1Week KC is back to connect, educate entrepreneurs

Lead organizer Adam Coomes speaks to the next generation of entrpreneurs at last year's Intern Fest, which will take place next Wednesday evening. | Courtesy of Kauffman Labs
Adam Coomes (left) speaks to a group at the inaugural 1Week KC in 2012. | Courtesy of Kauffman Labs/Flickr

1Week KC, a week full of events that aim to educate and connect entrepreneurs in the Kansas City area, is back for its fourth year.

The annual function, which this year is being coordinated by organizations including KCSourceLink and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, kicked off May 29 and runs through Friday.

On the eve of this year’s event, Missouri Business Alert caught up with one of 1Week’s coordinators, Kate Hodel of KCSourceLink, to get the scoop on what’s new and different this year, and to get perspectives on the larger significance of the entrepreneur-focused week.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Kate Hodel, KCSourceLink special projects and 1Week KC coordinator | Courtesy of Kate Hodel
Kate Hodel | Courtesy of Hodel

MBA: For those who aren’t familiar with 1Week KC, what are the goals of the event?

KH: I think the real reason for doing 1Week KC is to celebrate entrepreneurship, and educate and connect entrepreneurs. If you look at the week of events … you really start to see that it really is about connecting people to other entrepreneurs and to resources that can help them either start or grow their businesses.

In looking at the week’s schedule, what stands out to you?

Oh, that’s hard to say. But I think my favorites would be EDay at the K, and I think this year adding the education component with the entrepreneurial experts talking at the event right before the game will be really great. I think the Crowdfunding Live event Wednesday at Hallmark is unique and different. … Because (crowdfunding) is a fairly new and yet very interesting way of startup and early-stage companies getting some of that initial seed funding, we thought it would be worthwhile to highlight it.

With 1Week now in its fourth year, what sort of lasting impact have you seen from past years’ events?

It’s that kind of connectivity, I think. I don’t know how you measure that, but just the people being able to talk to somebody else who’s kind of going through what they’re going through, get a little bit of advice, maybe connect into one of (SourceLink’s) 240 resource partners who can provide some kind of counseling or mentoring or class or service. It’s that kind of thing.

As far as closing the gap between companies that need capital and potential funders is concerned, what role does 1Week play?

Again, I just think it’s about connectivity and education. What we’ve discovered, specifically in the finance area, is that there’s a lot of mismatching – people asking for the wrong kind of money at the wrong time. So we know we need to do a better job of educating both the entrepreneurs and the investors about how to make the right connections. … And they’re very serendipitous in many ways. Sometimes it’s just an idea. Sometimes it’s just knocking into somebody that you wouldn’t have met normally, and maybe they’re your next customer, maybe they’re your next vendor, maybe they’re your next partner, maybe they’re your next investor.

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