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September 16, 2019

As summer cools down, our fall lineup of entrepreneurs are warming up started. Satisfying consumers unique needs are what both of these organizations pride themselves on by offering their clients a high quality product that it sure to deliver. More information on these companies can be found below:

ProAthlete

ProAthlete is an online B2C retailer that sells baseball bats and gloves since 1987. They weren’t always an online retailer, they started with brick and mortar stores in Parkville, MO (just up north over the river) and switched to an online based company shortly after they realized that they can reach far more customers than their brick and mortar store could. ProAthlete has a single tiered organizational structure (everybody is a manger), reduced their employee count to no more than 48 employees, has been named a heathiest employer in KC for six straight years, and offers their employees flexible work arrangements and many amenities on site as well. Their focus is solely on baseball bats and gloves, however, their competitive advantage is their shipping and customization services. Find out more about ProAthlete here.

Swappa

Swappa is a B2C used technology online reseller that opened in 2010. The firm started when the owner had a bad experience with purchasing a used cell phone. Their policy is that no junk is allowed and all listings go through an in-depth review process before buyers are allowed to view the product. With having majority of their employees working from home, it has allowed them to expand their platform to include “local swap spots” that make selling products much faster than waiting for it to be shipped. Swappa is a platform for more than just cellphones; they also sell screen protectors, camera, laptops, and other small electronic devices too. Find out more about Swappa here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email kcevents@cbiz.com.




July 19, 2019

Not Just a Game: KC Sports Reduce Crime & Drive Economic Growth

On Thursday, June 27th CBIZ hosted its third quarter Executive Advantage Series, The Business of Sports: Innovations for Future Generations. The event took place in the historical 18th & Vine District at the Kansas City Urban Youth Academy.

The Academy project was announced in the summer of 2013 and opened its doors to local youths in 2017. The Academy promotes training, education, and character development through the practice of baseball and softball. Interestingly, Kansas City, Missouri leaders were eager to support the Academy for a reason that surprised the project’s manager, Kansas City Royals Senior Director of Baseball Operations, Kyle Vena.

“I did not envision reducing crime or the economic impact behind this,” Vena explained at the Q3 EAS event, “but what the City got behind immediately was having activity going on in the summer during the evening. When there is a city event going on, giving kids places to be productive and to enjoy themselves, crime drops 21%.”

This, according to Vena, was why the city invested so heavily in the Urban Youth Academy, and why the Academy is a Kansas City Parks & Recreation facility.

Kathy Nelson, President and CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission, spoke to the EAS audience about other ways that sports have been good to our city. Nelson successfully led the initiative to make Kansas City a host of the NFL Draft, which will be coming to our city in 2023. Next, she has set her sights on the World Cup for 2026.

“If we were to host matches,” Nelson told the crowd, “it could be the equivalent of $620M coming into the city, comparable to six Super Bowls in one month. It will change Kansas City.”

Jake Reid, CEO of Sporting KC, spoke about homegrown soccer. “In the academy system if you come up through the academy you don’t have to do a draft. You just get signed. The entire youth soccer program is based out of Swope Soccer Village. At some point in the next 5-7 years we would love six to eight players who are homegrown.”

Tyler Epp, VP of Business Development for the Kansas City Chiefs, was persuaded to talk just briefly about record-breaking quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who recently decided to buy a house and settle down in Kansas City permanently. “Before he bought the house I was with him and he said that he hoped the community would appreciate the fact that he loves living here. He said, ‘I love living here, I want to live here, this is my kind of place.’”

The ways in which Kansas City sports are improving the city are too many to cover in a single evening’s presentation. However, other topics covered were sports camps that foster STEM learning, sports betting, the evolution of sports technology, and major league sports’ continued effort to expand internationally.

Don't miss out on the next Executive Advantage Series event on October 10, 2019. More details to come for the topic, when, and where. Please email kcevents@CBIZ.com for any additional questions.




June 20, 2019

Summer is off to a great start. The entrepreneurs that came in both have roots in Kansas City and encouraged safety and support to our local communities. More information on these companies can be found below:

City Year

City Year is a national company that has been serving communities for over 31 years. They formed the local Kansas City branch a little over four years ago. The program provides extra support to struggling students and teachers. Mentors, ranging from ages 18 – 25, assist teachers with tutoring, attendance, behavior, and more to help supplement their existing academic plan. . In 2020, City Year plans on expanding to seven schools and adding 44 americorp members. Find out more about City Year here.

Zohr

Tires are not at the top of mind for everyone. Checking to see if they need to be replaced or if they are safe to drive on once you have popped one can be time consuming. Zohr makes tire changes easy. They bring their tire changing vans to you, wherever you are. When Zohr visited our KC office, they created a live demonstration to teach our employees tire safety and just how easy their services are to use. Find out more about Zohr here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.




May 7, 2019

A Road Map for Innovation: 3 Elements of Design Thinking

In the second quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series, Jon Cook, Global CEO of VMLY&R, shared a key element to the advertising agency’s record of success and innovation, design thinking. The concept of design thinking transcends the advertising world and has broader applications wherever there are people delivering products, services, and experiences. Jon distilled the complex philosophy down to a method that is both repeatable and unrestricting.

Jon distilled design thinking down to three basic elements: perspective, exploration and solution.

1. Perspective

There is no single correct perspective, but beware of limiting your focus to a single overriding principle. Jon used the example of efficiency, which can lead to a culture of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This kind of environment stifles innovation and is unlikely to produce products or experiences that exceed expectations.

2. Exploration

Exploration could also be called the research phase. Jon warns against getting caught up in competitor research, although it can be a necessary evil at times. Focusing on competitors limits your research to your own industry, full of people answering the same questions as you with the same basic tools and strategies. Instead, try looking to thought leaders, successful campaigns across all industries, and universal everyday experiences.

3. Solution

When design thinking is used successfully, the solution will do more than answer the immediate question. The solution will change the question. For example, design thinking led VMLY&R to stop asking how to influence their audience to engage with their ads and start asking if ads were the best way to reach their audience. This simple shift led to the social phenomenon that engaged Wendy’s core audience of 18-24 year old men by live streaming a Wendy’s character playing their favorite video game. Click here to learn more about Wendy’s Story.

Jon also cautioned that there is no step-by-step approach to design thinking. The path from perspective to solution is not a linear one, but circular and continuous. By focusing on reframing the question, we can begin to reshape how innovative solutions can effectively address the needs of consumers.

To register for the next CBIZ Executive Advantage Series event, please email kcevents@CBIZ.com.




May 6, 2019

This month’s showcase feature entrepreneurs that are all about making our lives easier with technology. The entrepreneurs that came in both offered resources through their software platforms to make back office tasks a thing of the past. More information on these companies can be found below:

Risk Genius

Risk Genius is a software platform that automatically reviews insurance policies. The problem most business owners face is that they have no idea what is in their policies or what to do during an emergency. This technology is working with AI to better find the policy clauses needed within the uploaded policy database system. Another cool feature of their software of the ability to go through policies with a side by side comparison and checklist of compliance requirements. Find out more about Risk Genius here.

Site 1001

Site 1001 is a software platform for building managers and owners to have a single source of data for  optimal building and operations performance. Many buildings have one system or process that handles work orders, heating, cooling, preventative maintenance, etc.. The Site 1001 software works with Carl, your virtual assistant, to determine building specs, increase the heat, and alert the user of any dated maintenance needs to keep the building in tip top shape for the tenants. In addition, Site 1001 works directly with the general contractor, owner, property manager, and third party services to house the information all in one place. Find out more about Site 1001 here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.




April 4, 2019

This month the entrepreneurial showcases featured services that offer just what businesses need to be successful. One of the entrepreneurs that came in was Bic Media. They offered insight into different media outlets that start-ups should be taking advantage of to gain new business and interact with followers. Another entrepreneur that came in was On Point. They offered opportunities to help manage backend business. More information on these companies can be found below:

Bic Media

Bic Media is a small marketing agency in the Crossroads that specializes in video production. They want their customers to see that making videos is easy. Bic Media offers customers a wide array of formats such as animation, 3-D, and virtual reality that can be paired with original music. Their videos can be displayed by streaming via television or social media. They help take an idea and create it into reality with video. Bic Media is there for every part of the experience from the initial idea to the final product. Find out more about Bic Media here.

On Point

On Point is an outsourced back office business. They are the modern back office and look at more than just typical back office tasks. On Point are the experts in outsourced operations. On point is for businesses needing to mitigate liability and have a cost effective solution to their back office. They help organize the daily stresses burdening employers and are proactive to help continue to mitigate those stresses. Find out more about On Point here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.




March 6, 2019

This month’s showcase has been tasty and techy. City Barrel Brewing came to visit the CBIZ office this month and brought along a tasty treat for the audience. RPI Creative also visited CBIZ this month and brought along someone to help him record the showcase. More information on these companies can be found below:

City Barrel Brewing

City Barrel Brewing is a new local KC brewery found in the Crossroad’s District. They specialize in sour, hoppy and wild beers with a twist, incorporating fruit and other adjunct flavors to differentiate their beers from their top competitors. City Barrel has a variety of foods that pair well with their craft beers from their full restaurant. Community and giving back is important to the brewery and its owners. To help give back to the community where they live and work, City Barrel partners with local charities to create a special beer where a portion of the proceeds are gifted to the charity.

Find out more about City Barrel Brewery here.

RPI Creative

RPI Creative is a marketing firm that specializes in social media platform management. They help build a personal brand for business and individuals to maximize their reach and bring a voice to their business. To do this RPI creates relatable content that people want to see and share. Likes, views, shares, and comments increases engagement and attract more potential customers or followers to the businesses social media pages. RPI Creative is not your average marketing firm, in addition to social media management, they offer a wide range of marketing services from podcasts to video creation. The more collaboration between them and the business or individual, the more authentic the content feels to the audience. Find out more about RPI Creative here.

Read about our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.




February 4, 2019

There were quite a few small start-ups that came through our office this windy and chilly January. Some of which were Idle Smart and Venture360. More information on each of these companies can be found below:

 

Idle Smart

Idle Smart is the ideal technology for trucks and soon to be other vehicles. They insert a wireless mechanism into the vehicle’s engine that can automatically turn on or off the idle vehicles once they reach their customized temperature or battery level. Idle Smart has been able to help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and was recognized as a recommended product by the EPA. This technology is saving firms thousands of dollars year after year. Within the next year, they plan on expanding to ambulances and school busses. Find out more about Idle Smart here.

 

Venture360

Venture360 is a software that helps manage major investments for private firms. The software creates a digital representation of company’s financial transactions for investors and owners to see easily. They help to connect investors with start-ups on a user-friendly and access controlled platform. Within the next year they hope to release Liquifi. The next instalment of investment management that allows individuals to trade their stocks in private firms. Find out more about Venture360 here.

 

Check out our other Entrepreneurial Showcases in our local office blogs. If you are an entrepreneur interested in sharing your story during one of our lunch-n-learns, please email Kaylee Christenson at kcevents@cbiz.com.

 




January 29, 2019

January 2019 | Michelle Kruse continues to do amazing work with our client, Center School District. See below or click here to check out the District's featured PBS segment about their innovative programming!

Keep up the good work!

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October 2018 | CBIZ Wellbeing Coordinator, Michelle Kruse, helped her client Center School District implement a ground-breaking program for students at Center Middle School. This program provides children with a protein-packed breakfast every morning before their first class, and is the only one of its kind in the United States.

Hear Michelle discuss this initiative and why Center Middle School was chosen to participate in this study here: Center Middle School Protein Breakfast Study




September 4, 2018

The third quarter CBIZ Executive Advantage Series featured the success stories of Neal Sharma, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at DEG and Tyler Nottberg, Chairman & CEO at U.S. Engineering. The two leaders spoke about their entrepreneurial journeys, and how they remain successful and competitive in a market that is constantly morphing to meet the demands of the consumer. If you missed their inspiring testimonials, here are four key points to motivate you for the rest of the week:

  1. Reduction of overall cost is extremely valuable to the consumer.

Tyler Nottberg admitted that being an entrepreneur in mechanical contracting is not a walk in the park. Like many industries, there are set ways of doing things that are extremely difficult to change or challenge. In his current role, Tyler has made it his mission to change the mindset of his associates, peers, and clients by finding ways to effectively reduce the total cost of a project, while maintaining the highest quality. He aims to accomplish this by providing education on the holistic value of investing in systems and products that may be more expensive initially but will save money in one year, five years, and beyond. This big picture approach can be applied to many industries and projects and helps prospective and current clients understand that the lowest bid is often synonymous with the lowest value. Thus making the strategic investment towards a larger bid, can provide a greater long-term value. 

  1. “The fish rots from the head down.”

While Neal admits this is an old saying and not his own, he used it to drive the importance of strong leadership in an organization. When people ask him how to create an engaging and positive company culture, he emphasizes the importance of an organizational commitment to create an environment where you bring your best self to work and encourage ongoing change. In order to make people feel valued and fulfilled at their job, personal investment is key; as he puts it, “The best way I can build a better company is to be a better man.”

  1. A company doesn’t exist without the community, and the community doesn’t survive without the company.

Tyler emphasized that there is always a partnership that exists between the community and its companies. One cannot exist without the other. A well-functioning society fosters this dynamic so that both are invested in the other for mutual growth and success. In order to keep moving forward, it is imperative that people see that relationship not as a burden, but as a life source to help foster the collective community.

  1. Our community sees Kansas City as a major league city.

Both Tyler and Neal spoke very highly of Kansas City and the strong community that has been cultivated here. When asked about the growth trajectory and what Kansas City needs in order to thrive, they said it began when Salvador Perez’s hit happened in the fifth game of the World Series. “We began to see ourselves as a major league city,” Neal said. Since then, growth has been exponential, but the ability to level off is coming. “We have not yet been asked by our leaders for an ounce of sacrifice for the sake of our communities.” They encouraged current community leaders and aspiring leaders to avoid the civic vacuum, wherein they participate in programs and then disappear for 20 years. Instead, they encourage these leaders to stay involved and encourage more participation and engagement and be personally connected to the communities they serve.




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