Why these KC founders say the right time for entrepreneurship is now — even if mistakes are inevitable

eDuring John Thomson’s entrepreneurial journey, the co-founder of PayIt realized that no one has all the answers, he shared; And anyone who waits until they feel comfortable enough to start a business will wait forever.

John Thomson, PayIt, speaks during a fireside chat as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City Kickoff

“We are all imperfect, certainly fallible. You should continue without worrying about perfection. Perfect is the enemy of progress. … There’s no right time — it’s time to go, and go with confidence knowing you don’t have the right answers,” shared Thomson, who also serves as CEO of Kansas City-based GovTech Scaleup. Pay itIn celebration of the 2022 kickoff for Global Entrepreneurship Week – Kansas City.

Serial entrepreneurs, supporters and future business leaders gathered Monday at Chicken ‘n Pickle in North Kansas City to officially kick off the annual, weeklong festivities. GEW KC Event series.

India Wells-Carter, founder and owner Fresh factory KCand Toby Rush, co-founder and CEO Redeem, joined Thomson for a fireside chat during the kickoff event. The trio discussed their unique experiences in building a business from the ground up, as well as the tenacity that unites entrepreneurs.

“Some of you may have heard me say this [before]But I believe it to be my core: Be afraid, but do it anyway,” Wells-Carter said. “If you’re shaking in your boots and your heart is pumping and you’re sweating bullets, I take that as a sign that it’s the right thing to do because it’s very uncomfortable.”

Toby Rush, Redeem, speaks during a fireside chat as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City Kickoff

Support systems provide reality checks

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Entrepreneurs are destined to make a lot of mistakes, but it’s important to separate the company’s ups and downs from the entrepreneur’s successes and failures as an individual, says Rush, who has been part of five startups — three of which he founded.

“Some of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn over and over again,” Rush said. “One of the hardest things for me is being able to separate where I get my identity from my purpose.”

Global Entrepreneurship Week

Global Entrepreneurship Week is an international celebration of makers, innovators and job creators who launch startups, bring ideas to life and develop entrepreneurship. Founded in 2008 by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, GEW has since expanded to more than 180 countries.

Click Here To learn more about Global Entrepreneurship Week.

If entrepreneurs only attach their identity to the company, it’s easy to detach from reality, Rush continued.

“Then when the company starts to take off, you worry more about the facade of what people think of the company, [rather] than the day-to-day progress of the company or who I am as a person,” says Rush. “There have been many times when my spouse or friends have said, ‘You’re so worried about the world. He thinks about the company and how it reflects you as a person; Of course, you and the company are two different things.

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Building a trusted support system of other people — both inside and outside the entrepreneurial ecosystem — is critical to success, the three entrepreneurs said.

“I’ve always believed you need a really strong board of directors,” Rush said. “Because you want people who will tell the truth and hold you accountable.”

Strangers can become one’s biggest supporters, Wells-Carter added, noting that she can tap into a variety of resources and groups in Kansas City.

“I have a lot of strangers in my support system,” Wells-Carter added. “They’re no longer strangers … They believe in my vision. They’ve been my backbone and champions and cheerleaders this whole time. I’ve definitely had support at home, but also here in what we now call our entrepreneurial ecosystem — so shout out to Kansas City!”

India Wells-Carter, Fresh Factory KC, speaks during a fireside chat as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City Kickoff

Solve problems first, innovation will come

Entrepreneurs don’t innovate for innovation’s sake; Instead, they create comprehensive solutions to problems that have yet to be solved, Thomson said.

John Thomson, PayIt, speaks during a fireside chat as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City Kickoff

“[At PayIt], we are a mission-driven business to make government access easier for people,” Thomson said. “… we only think about building a great company with good products that add extraordinary value to the market. Then it manifests itself in the form of some innovative, technological solutions.

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For Wells-Carter and her selfie studio, she sees innovation as a way to keep the customer experience fresh and novel, she shares.

“How do we let them know the world is theirs when they walk in here and experience something they can’t get anywhere else,” Wells-Carter said. “Innovation takes the form of, how do people feel? Do they feel inclusive and valued and remembered in our space?”

Including as many team members as possible in conversations also leads to more diverse, creative solutions, Rush added.

“If you just include the executives or the leadership team, you lose a lot,” Rush notes. “I’m often surprised by people throwing out ideas I’d never thought of. So where possible, including everyone on the journey really pushes that innovation.”

Pursuing entrepreneurship is a tough road, all three founders shared. It takes tenacity and ambition, but it’s worth it, Thomson said.

“If you are thinking [starting a business], do. Stop thinking about it and start doing it. This community is so welcoming and supportive and there are so many people on the front lines screaming for you,” cheered Thomson attendees. “Literally and figuratively!”

Click Here To see the Global Entrepreneurship Week schedule.

Check out the gallery from the GEWKC kickoff event below.

This story is possible only because of their support Ewing Marion Kauffman FoundationA private, nonpartisan foundation that works with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create extraordinary solutions and empower people to shape their futures and succeed.

For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect here www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn



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