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  • Wednesday, December 18, 2019 3:32 PM | Aaron Neely (Administrator)

    The Power of Networks

    Firestarters: Emmanuel (Manny) Herron, Monique McDowell, Diana Brauer

    Takeaways from Monique:

    Monique shared her experience coming from West Palm Beach Job to Topeka. She achieved "winning" and networking through:

    • Social media
    • Communication with people who have a potential reciprocity by establishing connections

    Monique’s advice was to know who is in the room (the winners, influencers, leaders, civil servants in your ecosystem) and find people who share common vision, mission, goals with you.

    Takeaways from Manny

    Start with attention grabbing story

    Introspection -6 points   

    1. Collective Wisdom (explore, gifts, investigate)
    2. Push the limits as a team
    3. Support and believe divergent views have value
    4. There is positive power in community
    5. New Ideas – Motivation
    6. Inspiration

    Other takeaways:

    • Importance of Marketing & Communication
    • Find your “family” in the industry
    • Find solutions with other like-minded professionals in your industry to solve common problems through collaboration (and innovate)
    • Bring in diverse group of variable energies
    • Unify knowledge systems & skills
    • Economic Prosperity
    • Value in each person
    • Creating business that positively affects culture and community for the better
    • Be prepared to describe your best selling point
    • Distinguishing feature on your person

    What do you want to see?

    • Accountability
    • Professional, purposeful, personal relationships
    • Outside Circle
    • Vulnerability
    • Share
    • Trust
    • Purpose
    • Intimate connections
    • Connections that change lives
    • “Signal boost”
    • Be seen in the news (press, create exposure w/ media)
    • Results
    • Change
    • Civic engagement
    • Be the expert
    • Share info
    • Follow-up
    • New business
    • People as a reference

  • Wednesday, December 18, 2019 3:00 PM | Aaron Neely (Administrator)

    Power of Community

    Firestarters: Tara Dimick, Gary Satter, and Kristi Dunn

    • Tara, Owner & Editor of TK Business Magazine
    • Gary Satter, Shawnee Startups
    • Kristi Dunn, PTAC

    Takeaways from Tara

    • Tara shared some challenges that she experienced in the business field related to community.
    • Her magazine at one point faced criticism for not being inclusive enough with the content that was being published. She took that criticism and realized that she hadn’t built trust in all the right circles. She is and has been working that direction since.
    • In a previous role within the banking industry, she could see the need to add “guardrails” to better help under-served communities take advantage of the resources that were available.

    Takeaways from Gary

    • Gary shared the opportunities that are available through an organization like Shawnee Startups, which can provide gap funding for entrepreneurs within Shawnee County.
    • “Shawnee Startups E-Community is in place to provide gap financing to help entrepreneurs start or grow a business in Shawnee County. The loan program matches up to 60% of other public sources of capital and/or funds from a financial institution such as a bank. Up to $75,000 can be provided per project. Funds are flexible and can be used for a variety of business purposes, including equipment, inventory, and working capital.” –   
    • Gary’s advice was to be selective with your business network and make sure to get involved. Community is essential.

    Takeaways from Kristi

    • Kristi has the opportunity to serve as Subcenter Director for the newest Procurement Technical Assistance Center and helps clients navigate federal contracts. The government buys products & services and government contracting itself is a unique network. She pointed out that in fiscal year 2019, for every $ invested, it returned $150. Additionally, at a rate up to $10,000, many agencies can do a sole purchase without competition, and PTAC can assist clients with matchmaking.
    • Kristi’s advice to the group was to try resources and try new ventures. “The connections she made helped her secure the career she wanted.”

    Other takeaways from the group:

    Community is important, and that there are plenty of organizations out there that are able to assist small businesses.

    Trust is key!

    • How to build trust – Push to meet NEW people, get to have smaller groups/ really get to know each other, genuine connections
    • People want to know the person behind the business
    • Learn culture/resources

    For New Businesses

    • Get on the Topeka Positive Experience Facebook page

    Where do you (as entrepreneurs/service providers) see challenges or opportunities?

    • Gap in providing guidance to help steer people from the “big idea” to a clear plan
    • One participant shared that while he/she works with engineers to design product and primarily works with military now, he/she are also looking to build commercial client base.

    Ways to assist:

    • Use the library’s classes (technology trainings)
    • Use Washburn SBDC to get an advisor with business experience
    • Use SCORE to get an advisor with business experience and how to look good for a bank loan
    • Allow “collisions” with other entrepreneurs to access honest feedback and resources
    • Utilize a space like 712 Innovations (affordable lease w/o a long term commitment and provides business workshops)
    • Need to further education? Check out Washburn Tech (Tim Clothier)
    • Determine your strategic Plans – where are you going/what have you done?


  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 2:36 PM | Aaron Neely (Administrator)

    712 Innovations would like to congratulate all of the nominees and award winners from today's 39th Annual Small Business Awards. Additionally, we want to provide an extra round of praise to the individuals who have been members or partners of 712 Innovations! We are proud of you and the accomplishments that you have achieved. Thank you for your dedication to Topeka and for making small businesses in #topcity a success!

  • Friday, August 24, 2018 1:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Tell us a little more about yourself and your business.

    I am originally from Eudora, KS and moved to Topeka about 10 years ago. It was originally a temporary move for school, but I met some great friends, married my wife, and was very fortunate to work for two great organizations so now Topeka is my home. Growing up my brother James and I worked in construction. It was great money while we were in high school and gave us some skills to gain employment as adults. We have wanted to start our own company since I took my first business course in high school, but life happened, and we went down our separate paths. James stayed in the trades as a painter and I gravitated towards sales, getting some great experience with Laird Noller Dealerships as a Business Manager. I feel our business is nothing groundbreaking but is built on some very basic principles the have helped us be successful very quickly: be honest, do what you say you are going to do, and deliver a quality product. This may seem simple, but many contractors miss the mark, and this has created a lot of opportunity in the Topeka market. We have also brought some much-needed technology to an industry that hasn’t been known for it. Bajillion Agency did an awesome job on our website; you can request a quote from your smart phone any time, day or night. Our Instagram is linked up with our site, so you can view our work and get ideas for your project at the same time. Also, when you get an estimate from us it isn’t just a piece of paper with a total at the bottom. We have state-of-the-art estimating software that allows us to be much more accurate and detailed with our bids. Customers in today's market want information now and they want to be able to validate you from the comfort of their living room. If you have great online reviews, lots of pictures of previous work, and make communication easy, you can really separate yourself from the competition.

    Request a quote from Graystone today!

    How long have you been a member of 712 Innovations and what programs/resources do you utilize?

    We joined 712 Innovations back in January of 2018 when we were still working out the details of our business plan. Karl Klein with the Washburn Small Business Development Center recommended we check it out and after our first tour we knew it was the place for us to get this thing off the ground. Although they have a lot of awesome technology and resources available, I would have to say our greatest resource has been other members. There are so many different types of businesses in 712 that it really opens up a lot of doors. We have gained a lot of referrals from members and been able to get free advice on topics in which we didn’t have much knowledge. Sometimes it’s just great to be able to bounce ideas off someone that may have a different viewpoint because of their business or life experience.  

    How 712 Innovations has impacted your business?

    712 Innovations has really given us the gift of community. We have had opportunities and made introductions that would not have been possible without that kind of environment. It has also given us a great professional atmosphere for meetings and interviews that fits the budget of any start-up.

  • Thursday, May 31, 2018 2:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Topeka & Shawnee County Library’s Sounds Like Art! Exhibit allows visitors of all ages to examine the inner workings of various musical instruments to better understand the artistic beauty as well as the mechanics of melody. 


    If you have seen the exhibit, you might have noticed a section rather simply entitled "Science" which contains a few pieces from TEEN STEAM, a program of 712 Innovations and the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library.


    Their work includes a Theremin (featured above). Known for its eerie, science fiction-esque sound, the device works without the slightest touch. Audible sound is created by moving one's hand near the vertical antenna, disrupting the Theremin's surrounding electromagnetic field. Another contribution includes a Chladni Plate (below). Created with the purpose of studying acoustics and vibration, this instrument is capable of producing a high-pitched sound through the implementation of sand, a metal plate and a bow.


    TEEN STEAM is a local program designed for young innovators with an active interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics (or Applied Mathematics)). Facilitated by 712 Innovations and the Topeka & Shawnee Country Public Library, the club encourages leadership, collaboration, creativity and innovation.

    The TEEN STEAM crew is currently comprised of a small group of students who work closely with 712i and library facilitators to accomplish long-lasting projects. 

    Group facilitator and Public Services Specialist at TSCPL Meg Porteous explains that “This particular group of kids is very busy with school and band, so we’ve changed our original plans to work on larger, long-term projects with them, and are currently providing them opportunities to explore interesting stuff like modular synthesizers, sound frequency, lasers and prisms, etc.”


    Prisms and LasersTeens deconstructed two projectors to harvest the prisms, lenses, and filters inside to use in an experiment with lasers in June.


    Participants have already had the opportunity to advance their working knowledge of several advanced fields, including music production, robotics and coding, optics and food production.

    The group meets the second Wednesday of every month at 712i from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

    For more information on this TEEN STEAM or to learn how to join this group, contact either David Corr (712 Innovations) or Meg Porteous

  • Tuesday, May 01, 2018 2:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    First off, tell me a little more about yourself and your business.

    My business is The Brassy Explorer and most of my products are inspired by the places I have lived and traveled that have a piece of my heart. I grew up in Idaho, and I have lived in three additional states since then. I’ve also had opportunities to travel both domestically and internationally which has shaped me in many ways. I can’t imagine my life without those experiences, and I love having mementos of the places that I call “home.” I started out making customized wood state keyrings and seasonal holiday ornaments, and I am gradually expanding into home décor and other accessories. I currently have a display in 4 Girls’ Garage in the NOTO Arts District as well as an Etsy shop online. I offer wholesale pricing on some of my items including keyrings which are now featured in a handful of gift shops and coffee shops around the U.S. Most of my local items focus on the state of Kansas, while my items listed on Etsy cover a larger range of locations spanning from Washington state to Florida and beyond to many countries in Africa where my true obsession with travel began over a decade ago.

    How long have you been a member of 712 Innovations and what programs/resources do you utilize?

    I have been a member of 712 Innovations since September 2016.  I primarily use the Epilog laser, and I hope to begin using the ShopBot soon to expand my capabilities and test out a few new ideas. I work at a local printing company, GoModern, during the day, so I spend most of my time at 712i during the evenings and weekends. I love that members have 24/7 access to the facility and equipment. I wouldn’t be able to accomplish everything that I do without that flexibility. There are a number of great events that 712i hosts throughout each month. There is a little something for everyone, and I’m excited to see how 712i continues to grow!

    Tell me how 712 Innovations has impacted your business.

    712i has given me the ability to test out new ideas while keeping my overhead low. I don’t have to hire someone to create a prototype for me, because I can do it myself. I also take great pride in my work, so having the ability to control quality is key. My membership has also allowed me the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and be inspired by others’ passion for their various businesses and projects.

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