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Voice of the Chiefs offers advice for startups: Stay hungry, humble and pointed toward your goal post

DATE POSTED:April 2, 2024

WICHITA, Kansas — Don’t settle for one winning season, Mitch Holthus — the longtime voice of the Kansas City Chiefs — told a group of startup founders, encouraging entrepreneurs to keep pushing forward before they find themselves hitting a professional plateau.

Mitch Holthus, Kansas City Chiefs, speaks during a NXTSTAGE cohort graduation event in Wichita; photo by Taylor Wilmore, Startland News

“You celebrate milestones, but you don’t stay there,” said Holthus, comparing the average lifespan of a startup to the average career of an NFL player, before bringing it back to the hometown team. “If anybody in this room thinks that we are satisfied with what we’ve done, you’re wrong.”

As Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Chris Jones pledged after Kansas City’s second consecutive Super Bowl win in February, the team is going for a three-peat, Holthus explained to a crowd gathered in Wichita for the celebration honoring the most recent graduating class of the NXTSTAGE Customer Traction Cohort.

Entrepreneurs also shouldn’t get sidelined by a few lost games, the six-time Emmy winner emphasized, pulling again from the Chiefs’ playbook.

Despite facing such setbacks as losing six out of seven games in 2017, Holthus recalled, Coach Andy Reid turned things around for the Chiefs, leading them to the playoffs that same year. He encouraged new entrepreneurs to approach their challenges with that same passion, knowing that difficult times don’t have to define them.

“Just remember, stay hungry and stay humble, always pointed in the direction of your dreams and goals,” he said.

2024 NXTSTAGE Customer Traction Cohort; photo courtesy of NXTUS

‘Lifeblood of our innovation culture’

Holthus’ remarks came during the NXTSTAGE Gamechangers and Champions rally, celebrating entrepreneurs pushing toward the end zone of innovation. The pep rally and send-off honored the cohort’s graduates who pitched their businesses one final time to a crowd of 200 community and business leaders, entrepreneurs, NXTUS program alumni, partners, and Accelerate Venture Partners at Niche.

“At NXTUS, we believe in the transformative power of entrepreneurship, and today’s celebration marks another milestone in our commitment to nurturing startups and strengthening the community of support around them,” said Amber Dunn, program manager for NXTUS.

Five startups out of the 20 graduating from the cohort are based in in the Kansas City region, ranging from functional and sustainable apparel (Cardio Bra, GG’s Alpaca Fleece), customized online sports lessons (Mpruv Sports), grief support (Sharing Solace), and gift boxes for stress relief (Hustle & Ground).

ICYMI: Siblings spin family pet into family business, capitalizing on alpaca’s plush potential

The startups joined the 10-week Customer Traction Cohort in January. Through pitch coaching, workshops, and peer rounds, they honed in on market and pricing strategies to learn how to drive up their revenue.

Click here to check out the full list of startups in the 2024 cohort.

NXTUS finds that for every 1 percent increase in entrepreneurship, states see the poverty rate drop by 2 perecent. The Wichita-based organization positions startups in Kansas for this economic growth by providing three main things: connecting more than 1,300 startups to new customer opportunities, mentorship networks, and access to capital through their programs.

“All the net new jobs in this country are created by young and small businesses,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, president and CEO of NXTUS. “They’re the backbone of economic growth, and the lifeblood of our innovation culture that we want to build here in Kansas.”

Mitch Holthus, Kansas City Chiefs, speaks during a NXTSTAGE cohort graduation event in Wichita; photo by Taylor Wilmore, Startland News

Listen from the top down

The longest-serving play-by-play announcer for the Kansas City Chiefs, Holthus gave tips to the entrepreneurs on how to sustain longevity in the startup world — just like the Chiefs’ approach plans for a Super Bowl run.

Success begins with open ears and an open mind, he said.

Wichita Mayor Lily Wu listens as Mitch Holthus, Kansas City Chiefs, delivers remarks during a NXTSTAGE cohort graduation event in Wichita; photo by Taylor Wilmore, Startland News

“It’s important to know for new entrepreneurs and those who are right now involved in grinding away to try to make it happen, is that we have been an outstanding organization when it comes to listening,” said Holthus.

Actively listening to people in your organization and showing respect from the top down is the key, Holthus said, giving the example of Coach Reid regularly telling the two members of the overnight cleaning crew for the practice facility that what they do helps win championships.

“If you don’t think they have that thing on full throttle when they’re working on the tile floor, you’re kidding yourself, because they feel like they’re a part of our team just as much as Mahomes and Kelce,” he said.

Holthus also pointed out that it’s not only important to listen internally, but also outside an organization: to competition, the marketplace, and the advice of established partners who oftentimes can more clearly see areas of growth.

“Listen to absorb, ascertain and act, It’s a linear progression,” he said.

The post Voice of the Chiefs offers advice for startups: Stay hungry, humble and pointed toward your goal post appeared first on Startland News.