Kansas City entrepreneurs share startup experience at alumni networking event

Posted on Oct 20, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Kansas City Skyline from Kansas City entrepreneurs event
Kansas City-area alumni and current KU students gathered Oct. 18 at the WeWork shared-office space in downtown Kansas City for a networking event and panel discussion with three of the city’s top entrepreneurs.

The panelists included Chase McAnulty, assoc., founder and CEO of vintage T-shirt company Charlie Hustle; Paul Francis, a’80, founder and CEO of OYO Fitness; and Hillary Philgreen, g’97, chief operating officer of Hantover Inc. and ARY Brands Inc and founder and creator of StinkBOSS. The discussion was moderated by Tyler Enders, b’11, owner of Made in KC and partner in five other retail concepts in the Kansas City area.

Prioritizing industry connections

Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, welcomed the crowd of 65 Jayhawks and thanked Jessica Nelson Palm, j’11, managing director of the Kansas City Area Development Council and president of the Association’s Greater Kansas City Alumni Network, for the network’s assistance in hosting events for local alumni.

“These sorts of panel discussions and industry connections are a big focus for the Alumni Association right now,” Peterson said, explaining that the Association plans to launch a new career initiative, the Jayhawk Career Network, in 2018. “Programs like this in major metro markets across the country are part of that plan.”

What worked and what didn’t

Throughout the evening, the panelists answered a series of questions from Enders, as well as from several participants in the crowd, about their processes for product development and marketing, including how they secured funding, who they enlisted for help, how their prototypes were built and, ultimately, what worked for them and what didn’t.

Philgreen, a mother of two teenage boys who inspired the creation of StinkBOSS, a machine designed to dry, sanitize and deodorize shoes and athletic gear, relied on her extensive business background and made connections with other industry professionals, which proved invaluable to launching her product. She reminded participants that Kansas City offers a wealth of resources and networking opportunities for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

“You need help, there are people in this city that will help you,” she said. “You just need the concept and you just need to step forward and try.”

“Reverse engineer” what’s already been done

Francis and McAnulty used the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to help fund their concepts, and they stressed the importance of having a captivating, informative video for product campaigns. Both entrepreneurs recruited local business-savvy professionals to help create their videos.

“You don’t have to do anything new,” said Francis, who patented SpiraFlex, the exercise technology that powered strength-training equipment for NASA, and also developed the Bowflex Revolution. He watched several other campaign videos before creating one for his latest product, the DoubleFlex portable gym. “You just have to reverse engineer what’s already been done, then just improve upon it.”

Keep trying

McAnulty, whose passion for vintage tees and textile design inspired him to launch Charlie Hustle in 2012, reminded participants that the most important lesson in starting a new business or launching a new product is to keep trying. His brand’s most popular tee and signature piece, the KC Heart design, wasn’t even on the initial roster of T-shirts when Charlie Hustle first launched.

“You learn from everything,” he said. “You learn from your mistakes, you learn from your little successes. Try to expand and grow on those. We failed on a lot of different products. Just keep going, do it.”

—Heather Biele

Watch our video below to hear from the panelists. Pictures from the event are available on our Flickr page and may be downloaded for personal use.

 

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Kansas City network president to receive leadership award

Posted on Sep 28, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Jessica NelsonJessica (Nelson) Palm will be honored with the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award from the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce on September 28.

The award honors emerging leaders who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their business; contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community; and serve as role models for young women personally and professionally.

Palm, j’11, serves as president of the Greater Kansas City Alumni Network board for the Alumni Association, where events such as an upcoming KC Entrepreneurship panel provide area Jayhawks with opportunities to engage with their peers in various industries.

“Jessica has set the bar high for young professionals in Kansas City,” said Kelsey Hill, assistant director of Kansas City alumni programs. “She is engaged in a way that inspires alumni to be present and proud of their University. We could not be more proud of Jessica and are honored that she is serving as president of the Kansas City board.”

As managing director of the Kansas City Area Development Council, Palm manages the organization’s talent recruitment initiative, TeamKC: Life+Talent. The nationally-recognized program strengthens the region’s competitive advantages through programs such as InternKC by engaging interns to encourage setting in the KC region. She’s also publisher of KC Options magazine, which answers the question “Why KC?” to candidates, new hires and interns from around the world.

“Supporting young professional women in the Kansas City business community is a great way to engage and leave a lasting legacy no matter what your age,” Palm said. “The camaraderie of women leaders in Kansas City is powerful, and as a young professional in our community having access to these individuals for collaboration and mentorship has propelled my personal and professional aspirations greatly. It is truly an honor to be recognized among such successful and incredible women in our region as an ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award honoree.”

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Jayhawks in the News | August 11

Posted on Aug 11, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

KU campus graphics | www.kualumni.org

Find out what fellow Jayhawks are up to in our biweekly edition of “In the News.” It’s like an online version of Class Notes. If you’ve seen Jayhawks in the news who should be featured, email us at share@kualumni.org.

 

Grey’s Houston Promoted To Worldwide CEO, Succeeds Heekin | MediaPost

Grey Group promoted Michael Houston to Worldwide Chief Executive Officer. A 10-year veteran of Grey, Houston, c’15, has served since 2016 as Global President and becomes only the fifth person to hold the CEO position since Grey’s founding in 1917.
Read full article.

After several venue changes, Lawrence’s little-known but beloved Solidarity Library is moving again this weekend | LJWorld.com

If you attended the University of Kansas or lived in Lawrence during the early 2000s, you might remember the radical politics of Solidarity. The ECM has housed the Solidarity Library for about 10 years now, according to Ailecia Ruscin, a local photographer who helped found Solidarity as a KU graduate student around the dawn of the millennium.
Read full article.

Aaron Miles officially introduced as new G League coach | KUSports.com

Former Kansas point guard Aaron Miles, who got a crack at the NBA and spent eight years playing overseas and later coaching on KU coach Bill Self’s staff, officially was named the head coach of the NBA G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors on Wednesday.
Read full article.

Lt. Gov. Colyer adds Kansas GOP official to personal staff | CJOnline.com

Clay Barker, the executive director of the Kansas Republican Party, on Monday joined the staff of Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer in anticipation of Gov. Sam Brownback’s resignation. Barker graduated from the KU School of Law in 1997.
Read full article.

KC Chamber honors two exemplary Kansas City women | KC Chamber News Room

Jessica Nelson has been selected for the KC Chamber’s ATHENA Young Professionals Leadership Award. Nelson, j’11, is the current president of the Greater Kansas City Network of the KU Alumni Association and is the managing director for TeamKC:Life+Talent with the Kansas City Area Development Council.
Read full article.

Woman nominated for Kansas federal judgeship | KAKE.com

Holly Teeter, l’06, has been nominated by President Trump to be a federal judge in Kansas. Teeter currently works in Kansas City, Missouri, and her background includes work at the Shook, Hardy & Bacon law firm’s Kansas City office.
Read full article.

KU announces new interim vice chancellor for public affairs | LJWorld.com

The University of Kansas will soon have a new interim vice chancellor for public affairs. Reggie Robinson, director of KU’s School of Public Affairs and Administration, will assume his new role effective Aug. 14, KU announced earlier this week. Robinson, a KU alumnus, has led the School of Public Affairs and Administration since 2014.
Read full article.

Emily Fekete joins AAG as Communications, Education, and Media Specialist | American Association of Geographers

In her new position at the AAG office, Emily Fekete will lend her expertise in communications and media geographies to the communications team through new content curation, social media and program development. Fekete holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Kansas.
Read full article.

Prosecutor who lives in Prairie Village named new Johnson County magistrate judge | Shawnee Mission Post

Jenifer Ashford, a Prairie Village resident who current serves as prosecutor for the cities of Shawnee and Lake Quivira, has been named to fill a 10th judicial district magistrate judge opening. Ashford, who graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law, will be sworn in later this month.
Read full article.

Kansas fan couple travel abroad with team spirit | LJWorld.com

Russ and Linda Sims, e’79, have sort of made it their signature move to take a bright blue flag that reads “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” to all of the historic and scenic places they’ve traveled to both capture the moment and represent the Jayhawks.
Read full article.

FDA Sets Inaugural Meeting of First-Ever Patient Engagement Advisory Committee | FDA

Suzanne Schrandt, l’05, is one of nine core members appointed to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s first-ever Patient Engagement Advisory Committee.
Read full article.

John Bowman Honored With Institute for Energy Law’s Lifetime Achievement in Energy Litigation Award | King & Spalding

The Institute for Energy Law is honoring Houston partner John Bowman, l’80, with its Lifetime Achievement in Energy Litigation Award, which is given to one energy litigator each year whose achievements “have won the admiration of his or her peers,” according to the organization.
Read full article.

Have you heard news about a fellow Jayhawk, or maybe you have news of your own to share? Email us at share@kualumni.org, or fill out our Class Notes form to be included in a future issue of Kansas Alumni magazine. Read more about newsworthy Jayhawks.

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Kansas City watchmaker creates wrist-sized tribute to Naismith’s rules

Posted on May 8, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

If Michael Wilson has his way, Kansas City will become known for luxury watches as well as tasty barbecue. Wilson, b’05, has dedicated his hometown company, Niall, to manufacturing luxury watches with meticulous craftsmanship. Niall was the presenting sponsor for the April 29 Rock Chalk Ball, hosted by the Alumni Association’s Greater Kansas City Network. Watch our video to hear more about Wilson’s business philosophy and Niall’s creative and intricate tribute to KU’s distinctive basketball tradition.

 

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KU Builds KC: Smart Cities Engineering Panel

Posted on Apr 18, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Panelists at the KU Builds KC: Smart Cities Engineering Panel, April 11, 2017

Five distinguished Jayhawks working in the world of engineering in Kansas City recently discussed the many challenges and questions facing the metro area now and in the very near future.

The event was hosted by Black & Veatch and held Tuesday, April 11. Clint Robinson, e’85, g’91, associate vice president of Black & Veatch, served as moderator.

The panelists included Kevin McGinnis, c’93, vice president at Pinsight Media; Angie Grant, e’04, vice president at Henderson Engineers, Inc.; Stephen Hardy, c’00, chief executive officer at mySidewalk; Herb Sih, ’89, managing partner at Think Big Partners; and Scott Stallard, e’81, b’81, vice president at Black & Veatch.

The Kansas City Network’s career networking committee helped organize the Smart Cities panel. The committee plans to host quarterly industry-specific events for KU students and alumni.

Watch the video below:

 

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Alumni Profile: Jocilyn Hansen

Posted on Apr 7, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Jocilyn Hansen, e’15, earned a degree in architectural engineering and currently works as an assistant project manager for Burns & McDonnell. Originally from Dell Rapids, South Dakota, she now resides in Overland Park. Jocilyn is a Life Member of the KU Alumni Association.

Jocilyn HansenI became a Jayhawk because…

I got chills doing the Rock Chalk Chant during my first visit to KU. Being a Jayhawk is just as magical and mystical a feeling as the mascot itself. I have felt that magic from that first visit and I still feel it today.

How has KU propelled you into your current career?

I got my first internship offer from a former Jayhawk who had been an adviser during my first years at KU. Today, he and I continue to work for the same company; our network of Jayhawks has only grown. The Jayhawk network can take you anywhere, from Lawrence to St. Petersburg, to Sydney and back!

What’s the best KU tradition?

The KU tradition I love the most is being somewhere and making connections with someone based on our Jayhawk. I’ve made Jayhawk connections in the middle of nowhere Montana just because of my Jayhawk pin, worn every game day with pride! Or just shouting ‘Rock Chalk’ across an airport terminal, it’s really the best feeling!

What spot do you return to whenever you’re back on the Hill?

I love to grab Sylas and Maddy’s and head up to the Campanile. It’s especially great when a carillonneur is playing an evening concert. The lights of Lawrence beyond the Hill, “I’m a Jayhawk” playing on the bells, it can really be a sureal experience.

Describe a moment, during or after your time as a KU student, when you felt the greatest sense of Jayhawk pride.

I can remember walking home from the engineering school, down Jayhawk Boulevard on a particularly sunny day and thinking to myself, “Wow. I am weeks from graduating from THE University of Kansas. I made it as a Jayhawk.” This was my paradigm moment. I was proud of myself, proud of my school, proud of everything around me.

Reveal a “best kept” secret about the KU campus or Lawrence.

Allen Fieldhouse. Sure, during basketball games it’s the greatest place on Earth, but there are two other times you should go. During the weekday when no one is around–the lights are out and it’s beautiful. And after a game, after all the rushing to get out of the bleachers stops, it’s just you and the newspaper and the scoreboard. Try them both, you won’t be disappointed!

Check out more profiles of outstanding Jayhawks to find out where a degree from the University of Kansas can take you.

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Alumni Profile: John Holt

Posted on Apr 3, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

John Holt, j’81, l’84, is originally from Great Bend, Kansas. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the KU School of Journalism and a juris doctor from the KU School of Law and works as an anchor and special projects reporter for Fox4 News in Kansas City. He currently resides in Leawood, Kansas, and is a Life Member of the KU Alumni Association.

John Holt I became a Jayhawk because…

I was raised a Jayhawk! The five Holt kids are third generation Jayhawks and all of us found our way to Mount Oread.

How has KU propelled you into your current career?

In addition to my William Allen White School of Journalism degree, I remained at KU to obtain my law degree. Both helped pave the way to my current broadcast journalism career and prepared me for the challenges of a constantly evolving and challenging business.

How did KU push you to try harder or to try something new?

My professors constantly challenged me to push the envelope, whether in my broadcast classes, political science, or law school. They taught me the value of hard work and critical thinking that has stood the test of time in the “real world.”

My best advice for college students is…

Study hard, but find the fun too. Get involved in campus activities, your housing experience, and yes, the social life that is Lawrence, one of the best college towns in America (yes, I’m biased).

What’s your favorite spot on campus?

While most Jayhawks take great pride in our nationally ranked basketball program (as do I), my favorite spot on campus is Memorial Stadium. There’s nothing like “game day on the Hill,” and I return to take in football games as often as I can!

What’s the best KU tradition?

No matter where you are in the world, if you see someone in Jayhawk gear, even a complete stranger, there is an immediate connection when you smile and say “Rock Chalk!”

My favorite KU memory is…

I have so many, but I have to say perhaps the most vivid is the day I arrived on campus. I was a fresh-faced, small-town Kansas lad with much to learn not only in college, but about life in general. I had few friends in Lawrence and was starting fresh. But like so many, KU embraced me and it became not just a college, but a home.

Describe a moment, during or after your time as a KU student, when you felt the greatest sense of Jayhawk pride.

I couldn’t have been prouder to be a Jayhawk when in 2008, our football team won an Orange Bowl, followed a few months later by the basketball team winning a national championship. I was there for both, and in San Antonio, I provided basketball coverage for Fox 4 in Kansas City. It was the thrill of a lifetime to be a part of that joy!

What was the greatest gift you took with you after graduation?

The great network of fellow Jayhawk alumni all over the world!

Check out more profiles of outstanding Jayhawks to find out where a degree from the University of Kansas can take you.

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Kansas City-based watchmaker Niall proud sponsor of Rock Chalk Ball

Posted on Mar 9, 2017 in Alumni News, Career/Life, and News

Rock Chalk Ball

Kansas City-based luxury watchmaker Niall is a top-tier sponsor of the 2017 Rock Chalk Ball, the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s largest annual fundraising event, April 29 at the Overland Park Convention Center. Hosted by the Greater Kansas City Alumni Network, the event raises funds for Association programs to advocate for KU, communicate to alumni and friends in all media, recruit students and volunteers, serve alumni and KU, and unite all Jayhawks.

As a presenting sponsor of the event, Niall will donate two of its limited-edition Fieldhouse Blue watches to the Association, one of which will be auctioned at the Rock Chalk Ball. The exclusive watch is officially licensed by KU and features basketball founder James Naismith’s original 13 rules of basketball micro-inscribed on the dial of the timepiece. Only 126 pieces of this watch have been produced—emblematic of the number of years since the inception of the game in 1891. A portion of the watch’s ongoing sales will be donated to Kansas Athletics and the Williams Education Fund.

Niall’s partnership with the Alumni Association also includes other opportunities for alumni engagement.

“We are immensely grateful to Niall for its generous sponsorship of the Alumni Association’s Rock Chalk Ball and other events,” said Heath Peterson, Association president. “Kansas City is the nation’s largest community of Jayhawks, and our programs, especially in recruiting legacy students, are vital to strengthening KU.”

“Niall is thrilled to sponsor this year’s Rock Chalk Ball,” said Association Life Member and Presidents Club Member Michael Wilson, b’05, founder and CEO of Niall. “This is a great way for us to support the Alumni Association and its mission to connect Jayhawks to the University of Kansas.”

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