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Pulling $250K in annual sales and ready to scale? This KC cohort could take your small biz to the next level

DATE POSTED:July 8, 2024

As many as 20 local entrepreneurs and business owners could be selected for the latest game-changing program from ScaleUP! Kansas City. The key to getting in: proven revenue and a market ready for their supercharged ventures.

ScaleUP! Kansas City — built within the UMKC Innovation Center — is now accepting applications for its no-cost cohort, which runs Aug. 8 to Nov. 21. Applications are expected to be accepted through July 25.

The initiative helps Kansas City business owners prepare their businesses for scalable growth with a 16-week program that blends comprehensive training with expert speakers, peer mentoring and one-on-one business coaching. Business owners who complete the program will receive the tools to help them scale.

Click here to apply for Cohort 14.

“For nearly 10 years, ScaleUP! Kansas City has helped hundreds of KC business owners build a foundation of connections and insight to do amazing things with their businesses, no matter if that’s expanding to a new facility, employing more workers in our communities, becoming a multi-million-dollar business or being leaders who receive accolades,” said Jill Hathaway, senior director for entrepreneurial education at the UMKC Innovation Center’s ELEVATIONLAB. “ScaleUP! KC builds an economy of hope in those who have the passion and drive to be the pioneers who fuel our communities.” 

To be eligible for ScaleUP! Kansas City, applicants need to have:

  •       led a company that’s been in business for at least two years and has at least two employees,
  •       generated annual sales in excess of $250,000,
  •       a strong market than can generate well beyond $1 million+ in sales and
  •       the drive to lead part of the next generation of business leaders in Kansas City.

Lessons come from a mix of expert coaches, consultants and their fellow business owners who hail from the tech sector, manufacturing, service industries and many other areas of business.

“ScaleUP! Kansas City is a really intense program, but it covers everything you need to know about growing your business,” said Brittany Fugate of Cenetric, an IT company that completed Cohort 12 of ScaleUP! Kansas City. “It’s like an accelerated MBA. You learn everything you need to know to really scale your business: leadership, financial, sales/marketing — it covers all the bases.” 

During ScaleUP! KC, Cenetric’s revenue doubled, she said. In the year since Fugate completed the program, it’s doubled again. And her team has grown from about 10 employees to almost 30. In 2023, she won an Enterprising Women of the Year Award.

“I grew so much as a leader and felt like I had more direction,” Fugate said. “My struggle is that everything sounds like a good idea. You don’t know when you’re innovating or when you’re sidelined with a distraction. What contributed to our profitability was getting everyone in my company rowing our boat the same direction. ScaleUP! KC taught me to minimize distractions and make deliberate decisions.”

And she isn’t the only alum to see the benefits of the program’s peer mentoring and expert coaching.

“ScaleUP! KC taught me to think bigger about my business,” said Tom Assel of Assel Grant Services who completed Cohort 6. “Don’t just think about hiring the next person; think about hiring the next 50 people. Can your current business operation model support that kind of growth? Since ScaleUP! KC, we’ve made sure our systems and processes can support as much growth as we want.”

Assel went through ScaleUP in 2017, he said, noting his revenue that year was $448,000 and that he employed fewer than 10 workers. Revenue over the past 12 months has been nearly $1.8 million and said the company anticipates exceeding $2 million in revenue in 2024, Assel added. He now employes 26 people and said the company has added service lines for training and for grant management.

A common theme with many Scalers (ScaleUP! KC alums) is that they go on to expand facilities, increase revenues and create jobs.

“I still credit the ScaleUP! KC program for being instrumental in the scaling of Sage Restoration,” said Stephanie Sage, a member of Cohort 1. “Since being in the program, we have been successful in expanding our contents cleaning division and adding on a textiles cleaning division, building a reconstruction division and increasing our work/revenues in the commercial sector. We have proudly become a complete turnkey full-service restoration contractor. These add-ons have enabled us to not only expand into a 25,000-square-foot facility but also primed us to scale our revenues and employ a larger number of people in the Kansas City area.”

For some, their time in ScaleUP! KC was a pivotal moment for their business.

“ScaleUP! KC was a seminal moment in my life,” said Joe Speicher of Easton Roofing and a member of Cohort 9. “I wouldn’t be where I am without it. We tripled revenue in under three years and started multiple new divisions. I can’t speak highly enough about ScaleUP! KC. It has been so vital to my success.”

Other experiences in ScaleUP! KC primed alums to be acquired.

“I went through ScaleUP about nine years ago,” said Cohort 2’s Chris Rosburg. “About 12 months later, my company, CR Promotions, was acquired by Grapevine Designs; I am still with Grapevine. I learned a great deal through ScaleUP! KC, met some awesome people and was left in an awesome position to be acquired.”

The initiative provides direct support for growth-oriented entrepreneurs and firms that already have a strong foothold, with special emphasis on recruiting under-resourced communities and populations, organizers said.

ScaleUP! KC is funded by the Missouri Small Business Development Center at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Administrative support and coaching are facilitated by ELEVATIONLAB Entrepreneurial Education through the Missouri Small Business Development Center at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, a program of the UMKC Innovation Center.

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