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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
This week, Association President Heath Peterson shared plans to modernize the Kansas Honors Program (KHP) in a letter to longtime alumni volunteers. Since 1971, the KHP has recognized 135,000 Kansas Honor Scholars from all Kansas counties.
In February, the KU Alumni Association’s national Board of Directors convened a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of the program in the context of two important trends: attendance at the 36 annual KHP events has declined among students and families, and significant funding cuts to higher education have made it more difficult for the University of Kansas and the Alumni Association to fund the program.
In a survey of former Kansas Honor Scholars, volunteers and school administrators, the task force found that the dictionary award traditionally given to all Kansas Honor Scholars had become less meaningful to students in the digital era and that investing in scholarships would be more valuable.
Peterson said the new KHP format, beginning with the 2017-18 school year, will provide flexibility for scholars, their families and local high schools while reducing program expenses.
“Most important,” he noted, “the cost savings will enable the Association and the University to create more scholarship opportunities for Kansas Honor Scholars.”
The Association plans to continue working with high schools to designate top students as Kansas Honor Scholars, providing recognition certificates to all schools, where administrators can determine the best ways to recognize their scholars. In addition, the Association and the University will host revamped Kansas Honor Scholar Ceremonies throughout the state.
Peterson explained that the Association will consolidate the 36 KHP events, many of which were costly dinners, into 12 regional receptions, which begin in Lawrence in conjunction with Crimson & Blue Day–a new visit day–at KU on October 13. Scholars and their families can choose to attend the free events that are most convenient in terms of date and location.
The Kansas Honors Program is believed to be the first program of its kind in the country. No other university or alumni association in the state honors the state’s top scholars in this way.
“With your help,” Peterson concluded in his letter to alumni, “we can continue the proud tradition of honoring outstanding young Kansans and encouraging them to continue their education—ideally at the University of Kansas.”
More than 40 alumni and 15 current students met July 18 on Michigan Avenue to learn from some of the best and brightest Jayhawk alumni based in the Windy City.
The event, Chicago Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel, featured a panel of business leaders who shared the stories of their journey with Chicago area alumni. A select number of KU Student-Alumni Network members also attended.
Bryce McMichael, d’08, Chicago Network leader, said “One of the main goals we have in Chicago is diversifying our event offering beyond watch parties for KU games and expand into the careers and lifelong learning space. This event definitely fit the bill in that regard.”
David Hoese, e’86, vice president at Goldman Sachs served as panel moderator, with Todd Holmes c’89, CEO at Liquidus Marketing and co-founder of Goose Island Beer Co., Sherry Scott j’91, president at Gagen MacDonald, and David Grossman j’89, president at Freshii comprising the panel.
“The panelists stemmed from a Presidents Club reception we had last year in which Todd Holmes suggested an event like this,” McMichael said. “David Grossman and Sherry Scott were also added due to their specific entrepreneurial experience, local ties, and fascinating life stories.”
The event was the first of a series highlighting business leaders and entrepreneurs in Chicago. The panel offered advice to students and young alumni on topics such as how to start a business and risk tolerance.
“With 15 current KU students who hail from the Chicago area in attendance, I believe they came away with inspiration and pointers on how to create your own destiny and do the work you truly love,” McMichael said. “I also hope that those who went also came away knowing that their Alumni Association can provide much, much more value than they had originally thought going into the event!”
Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the KU Alumni Association, echoed McMichael’s sentiments for the Alumni Association as a whole.
“We want to do more to directly connect students to industry leaders and showcase the power and reach of the KU degree,” Peterson said. “We must leverage the story of successful alumni to ensure current students have direct and constant access to a powerful network.”
Peterson’s goals were realized for Rebecca Hans, j’18, a Student-Alumni Network member who made an unexpected connection.
“I didn’t expect to know anyone [at the event] but I saw a family friend,” Hans said. “He introduced me to someone who has a connection to the military at KU. My dream job is a military psychologist where I could work with soldiers or their families and help them with mental health issues.”
“This event helped me realize that I can be successful in Chicago. Knowing that I am graduating in the spring, it is comforting to see that KU stays with you forever.”
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.”
Students came out in droves Wednesday night to show off their Homecoming spirit for the annual Jayhawk Jingles competition and Food Fest. As the crowd filled the parking lot at the Adams Alumni Center, lines formed to sample free food provided by Paisano’s Ristorante, Pita Pit, the Mad Greek, HyVee Market Grille and Hot Box Cookies, and six sorority-fraternity teams huddled up for last-minute preparations before taking the stage.
Participants didn’t disappoint as they displayed their talents in musical performances that honored this year’s Homecoming theme, “Rock Chalk Super Hawk.” More than one team altered the lyrics to the popular song, “I Need a Hero,” and another team performed a comedy skit that depicted Jayhawks overpowering the Oklahoma State Cowboys to win Saturday’s football game. The crowd cheered as one student landed a perfect forward flip after missing the mark on his first attempt. The evening also provided the perfect opportunity for students to dress up as their favorite superheroes, including Batman, Spiderman and Superman.
Judging the event were Catherine Carmichael, c’14; LaRisa Chambers, c’95; and Linda Ellis Sims, e’79, who received the Rich and Judy Billings Spirit of 1912 Award. The award honors Jayhawks who consistently display school spirit, pride and tradition throughout their lives. A stalwart KU volunteer, Sims received the 2011 Fred Ellsworth Medallion for her years of service.
“There’s a reason KU is special,” Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the Alumni Association, told the crowd as he introduced Sims. “You’re having this experience because of Jayhawks like Linda.”
The winners of this year’s competition were:
First place: Delta Delta Delta, Theta Chi, Alpha Kappa Lambda
Second place: Alpha Delta Pi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Delta Lambda Phi
Third place: Sigma Kappa, Pi Kappa Alpha, Multicultural Greek Council
Watch a slideshow of pictures below, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. Photos may be downloaded for personal use.
KU’s 104th Homecoming celebration, Rock Chalk Super Hawk, takes place Oct. 16-22. For a full list of activities and events during Homecoming week, fun facts and historical information, visit www.kualumni.org/homecoming. Share your photos with us by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #kuhomecoming, and follow the hashtag to see more pictures of the celebration. Click here to read more stories about Homecoming.
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia on Friday was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at ending a civil war that has ravaged his country for more than 50 years. Although the peace accord Santos, a 1973 KU graduate with degrees in business and economics, negotiated with Colombian rebels was unexpectedly rejected by voters, the Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed hope that the award would encourage Colombians to continue their efforts at ending a civil war that killed more than 220,000 and displaced nearly 6 million.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee emphasizes the importance of the fact that President Santos is now inviting all parties to participate in a broad-based national dialogue aimed at advancing the peace process,” the Nobel Committee stated in a press release issued Oct. 7 from its Oslo, Norway, headquarters. “Even those who opposed the peace accord have welcomed such a dialogue. The Nobel Committee hopes that all parties will take their share of responsibility and participate constructively in the upcoming peace talks.”
Santos followed an older brother, Luis Fernando Santos, a 1970 graduate of KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, to KU, arriving on Mount Oread in 1969. As detailed in a cover story of Kansas Alumni magazine’s issue No. 3, 2011, Santos first lived in McCollum Hall, then joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity as a sophomore.
A motivated scholar—as well as a friendly fraternity brother who enjoyed beers at The Wagon Wheel Café, serenading sororities and participating in all-night nickel-dime-quarter poker games—Santos earned his KU degree in seven semesters, returned to Colombia, then left for London where he began his career as Colombia’s delegate to the International Coffee Organization. The KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences named Santos a distinguished alumnus in 2012.
“This great honor only adds to the immense pride KU alumni around the world have felt for their fellow Jayhawk since President Santos devoted himself to the cause of peace in Colombia,” said KU Alumni Association President Heath Peterson. “This Nobel Peace Prize also brings honor to the long-established mission of University of Kansas faculty, administrators, students, staff and alumni to make our heartland campus a welcome home to students from around the world. Our international missions, as educators and alumni advocates, will continue with an energized pace thanks to President Santos, whom we are proud to call one of our own.”
Olav Njølstad, secretary of the Nobel Committee, on Friday said, “I just had a chance to talk with President Santos on the phone, and he was overwhelmed. He said immediately that this is ‘very, very, very important for my country and for the continuing peace process.’”
For continuing updates, follow KU Alumni Association social media outlets, and Alumni Association members will find complete coverage in issue No. 6 of Kansas Alumni magazine.
The threat of stormy weather didn’t deter nearly 4,000 Jayhawks from packing Corinth Square in Prairie Village Aug. 26 for the 11th-annual KU Kickoff, hosted by the Alumni Association and Kansas Athletics. The evening began with DJ Carl spinning tunes while the crowd enjoyed food and drink tents, a fun zone for children, a sesquicentennial display by KU Libraries, Jayhawk merchandise giveaways, and Big Jay and Baby Jay, who kept the atmosphere lively with the help of the KU spirit squad and marching band.
Jayhawk Radio Network broadcaster David Lawrence, d’83, introduced Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09, president of the Alumni Association, who thanked Kansas City area alumni and volunteers for their support and detailed several of the University’s recent accomplishments, including the Far Above campaign, which raised more than $1.6 billion for KU. “I don’t know about you,” he said, “but I’m fired up to be a Jayhawk right now.”
Sheahon Zenger, PhD’96, KU athletics director, spoke of the new construction on campus, including McCarthy Hall, the DeBruce Center and Capitol Federal Hall, and encouraged alumni to visit KU’s ever-changing landscape. After giving a shout-out to the No. 5-ranked KU women’s volleyball team, which opened the season with a win against Mississippi State that evening, Zenger turned his attention to head football coach David Beaty and said, “If there’s anything fun at KU right now, it’s being around coach Beaty and his team.”
Joined by football players LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Daylon Charlot and Fish Smithson, Beaty summoned fans to fill the Hill and Memorial Stadium Sept. 3 for the opening game against Rhode Island. “It’s going to take a great fan base like all of you Jayhawks to get it done,” he said. “We thank you for your unwavering support and staying with us through all the rough times. You’ll have something to be proud of real soon.”
Watch the slideshow below to see pictures from KU Kickoff, or click here to view the photos on Flickr. Photos are available to be downloaded for personal use. All photos by Dan Storey.
Kansas City alumni and fans of KU will gather again at the KU Kickoff at Corinth Square this Friday, August 26, from 6-9 p.m.
The KU Alumni Association, in partnership with Kansas Athletics, will welcome our largest annual gathering of alumni in Kansas City. Jayhawks will hear from David Beaty, head football coach; Heath Peterson, president of the KU Alumni Association; and other KU speakers who will provide updates and pep talks to get the crowd pumped for another great year at KU. Like last year, there will be inflatable games for the kids, food, drinks, KU giveaways and entertainment from the KU Band, Spirit Squad and Big Jay and Baby Jay. Association members are encouraged to stop by the KU Alumni Association table to receive a free member appreciation gift (so don’t forget your membership card!). The KU Kickoff is sponsored by Shawnee Mission Health. Learn more here.
Speaking of pep talks
We’ve found a sure-fire way to get you fired up for fall. Coach Bill Self was a special guest at KU Football Training Camp this week where he addressed the team. Coach Self’s talk will get you ready to head to Memorial Stadium to support the Jayhawks this fall. It might even make you want to suit up and hit the field! See what we mean in the video below, shared on Twitter by our friends at Time Warner Cable Sports Channel in Kansas City, @TWCsportsKC.
What was your favorite class, instructor or professor as a KU student?
I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Bob Frederick’s courses in the Health, Sport, and Exercise Science Department. I had the opportunity to take multiple courses from him. He was many, many things—he genuinely cared for his students, possessed a tremendous amount of industry experience and wisdom that he applied to course content, he had the best stories from his time as KU’s Athletics Director. Most of all, he was a true gentleman and one of the finest Jayhawks to ever live.
What advice do you have for today’s KU students?
1. Start building your network now – as we say through the Student Alumni Association, one Jayhawk connection can change your world.
2. Understand the experience you are having today was built on the backs of generations of alumni.
3. When you leave the Hill, join the Alumni Association, get involved in your local alumni network, advocate for the university, and when you have the ability, give back to an area of KU that you are passionate about to ensure future generations continue to receive the same quality education and experience you are receiving now.
That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed this six-part series about our new president. Still have questions? Email us at email@example.com.
I have two. I will never forget when we unleashed years of frustration on the gridiron against Nebraska at home in 2007. We won 76-39. After winning on the road at KSU, at CU, and at Texas AM, we knew we had something special in the making. The other event was easily the 2008 Final Four. Beating Carolina, winning the title in dramatic fashion, and then taking over Rita’s on the River Walk is about as good as it gets. The only thing better would have been to be able to walk out of the arena onto Mass Street!
Last week, we found out Heath’s hidden talent. Next week, find out who Heath’s favorite professor at KU was, and read the advice he has for today’s students. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.