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Planned serendipity: Endeavor Heartland’s launch aims to put founders in the right place at the right time

DATE POSTED:February 28, 2024

A global nonprofit that supports high-impact entrepreneurs is gearing up for its March 6 regional selection panel in Kansas City — the organization’s next big step in establishing a KC footprint, said Shawn Morris.

Shawn Morris, Endeavor Heartland, speaks with attendees at a recent Endeavor event; photo courtesy of Endeavor Heartland

“This will double as our launch into the Kansas City market and our commitment to our office expanding there,” said Morris, manager of entrepreneur selection and growth for the Heartland division of Endeavor

“The hope is to hire a ‘boots on the ground’ person there at some point to be supporting high growth entrepreneurs across Kansas and Missouri.”

Endeavor Heartland’s regional selection panel at WeWork Lightwell is a part of its four-step application process for participating founders to become an Endeavor Entrepreneur. Three not-yet-publicly announced companies — two from Kansas City and one from Tulsa — are in the mix. 

Morris emphasized that Endeavor is focused on supporting later-stage companies that have crossed the $1 million to $2 million mark in annual recurring revenue (ARR), achieved product-market fit, and are positioned for rapid growth.

“We also want founders with the mentality of, ‘Hey, I’m trying to grow a big company, but I also want to help support the next wave of entrepreneurs behind me,’” Morris said.

From the archives: Endeavor could bring its global capital network to KC startups; leaders weigh its local need

Endeavor already operates U.S. offices in Atlanta; Bentonville, Arkansas; Buffalo, New York; Denver; Detroit; Louisville, Kentucky; Miami; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Becoming an Endeavor Entrepreneur

The panelists — a mix of Endeavor entrepreneurs, mentors, and board members — receive memos about each company in advance. They then conduct three, one-hour interview sessions where candidates pitch their businesses. Afterward, they enter deliberations.

“The criteria is: ‘Is this an entrepreneur that can have a big impact on Kansas City or Tulsa?’ ‘Is this business viable and has the potential to scale?’ and ‘Is the right time for Endeavor to step in?’” said Morris.

Selected founders gain access to Endeavor’s global network of more than 2,000 advisors for one-on-one mentorship, unlocking additional resources to scale their businesses.

“The benefit of Endeavor is we can plug you into an entrepreneur in Colorado, Egypt or Japan. It doesn’t really matter where they’re based out of, it’s more about whether they have the experience to be helpful and accelerate the company’s growth,” Morris said.

Event observers have access to most of the day’s events, including breakfast, panelist expectations, lunch, deliberations, and happy hour. During the interviews, they can choose one session to attend.

Click here to purchase Standard Observer tickets.

Helping KC reach the next level

Along with the March event, Ron LeMay — the first employee and CEO of Sprint PCS who now is a serial entrepreneur and early-stage investor through his OpenAir Equity Partners — joins Endeavor’s board of advisors to assist with the KC expansion.

Ron LeMay, Main Street Data, Open Air Equity Partners

Ron LeMay, Main Street Data, Open Air Equity Partners

“He’s a Kansas City staple in the entrepreneurship world. He’s a great fit for our collaborative region approach, so it’s a great way to officially help us launch,” said Canem Arkan, managing director of Endeavor Heartland.

In Kansas City, Endeavor not only wants to connect high-growth entrepreneurs to mentors and peers, but also to provide the resources they potentially are missing at that level of experience.

“People think that by the time you’re at a couple of million in revenue, you’ve gotten everything figured out, but there aren’t a lot of programming and resources available for those kinds of founders,” said Arkan.

Endeavor curates a personalized plan for each entrepreneur and their company, providing customized resources based on what industry they are in and whatever the founder is needing at the time.

Partnering with Startup Hustle to celebrate Endeavor’s launch at the end of the panel, Morris and Arkan hope entrepreneurs attending can grow their network with other like-minded investors and founders.

“We want to plan serendipity,” said Arkan. “Where you get people who care about the same things into the room together, and then something magical always happens.”

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