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Back in October, I had the privilege of attending opening night of Startup Weekend as part of Mid-Missouri’s Innovation Week. The energy in the room was absolutely infectious — entrepreneurs, investors, developers, and even non-techies such as myself all joined together to explore opportunities and find Columbia’s next big ideas.
Fifty-three pitches were whittled down to 16 ideas. Those final 16 teams spent the weekend researching, building, and presenting their respective masterpieces. By Sunday night, “House Collars,” a concept for in-home pet health services conceived by two MU vet students, was crowned the winner.
It’s a little too early to gauge whether these businesses will be long-term successes, but it wouldn’t be a surprise. CBT has covered past winners like EquipmentShare and Huntclub, and we are featuring 2015’s winner, StaffedUp, in this month’s issue (page 25).
As editor of CBT, I hear a lot of stories about how companies get their start. Victories, struggles, opportunities, rejections — every success story comes with its own saga and has often left a long path of failures scattered in its wake.
Entrepreneurs know this. Calculating risk and reward and ultimately taking a leap is what makes these mavericks so respected. Having the resources of incubators, investors, mentors, and pitch competitions here at our disposal is something we should never take for granted as a community. The added level of support and camaraderie is invaluable as we encourage and nurture a climate of innovation here at home.
And it doesn’t just benefit the businesses that take flight from these fostered launching pads. Establishing our community as an innovation hub means attracting and retaining high-tech talent to work, stay, and compete in Columbia — and we’re already making a name for ourselves. We can be proud that our area has gained more than a far-fetched mention as prospect for a hyperloop thoroughfare or an Amazon base.
Now, I’m not suggesting any smokestack-chasing or corporate welfare campaigns with sweetheart deals. But I am for providing a climate that encourages growth and innovation by keeping low barriers to entry and a startup-friendly culture. Embracing business-friendly policy means giving a leg up to anyone who seeks to take bold steps for the betterment of our community — whether it be a one-woman shop or the next MidwayUSA (page 30).
In this issue dedicated to innovation, we glimpse into the future and explore topics ranging from remote work (page 61) to electric cars (page 68), unconventional partnerships and office spaces (pages 52). We also highlight young entrepreneurs who have a lot to be proud of, and we raise a juice box to the kids in our community running their own businesses (page 21). Keep up the good work, Columbia — we never tire of telling the Cinderella stories.