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Power of Community: Takeaways from the Startup Topeka Summit

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?


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