Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Wichita, KS

Wichita, KS

From the city’s earliest days as a trading post to an aircraft manufacturing boom in the 1920s and 30s that earned it the nickname “The Air Capital of the World,” Wichita has long been an economic hub for Kansas and the Midwest.

Wichita, KS, on the bank of the Arkansas River, is the state’s largest city. From the city’s earliest days as a trading post to an aircraft manufacturing boom in the 1920s and 30s that earned it the nickname “The Air Capital of the World,” Wichita has long been an economic hub for both the state and the Midwest as a whole. In 2019, WalletHub ranked the city 78th overall on its list of the best large cities to start a business, including rankings of 42nd in the “Access to Resources” category and 33rd in the “Business Costs” rank. The same site also listed Wichita 87th on its list of the best metropolitan areas for STEM professionals, while Business.org had the city 38th on its list of the best cities for women to start a business in 2018.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Wichita’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Every Tuesday morning, the professional women’s group holds meetings to create networks and help continue to grow their businesses.

The Inventors Association of South Central Kansas hosts monthly meetings to support inventors and help bring their products to market.

Originally established in 2009, the RiverCity Networking group is an opportunity for small business owners and entrepreneurs in Wichita to meet one another.

The meetup group hosts “Monthly Mastermind Sessions” in which its members can meet and discuss their development.

By hosting weekly events, the collective supports those in the Kansas area interested in investing or becoming an investor.

Those interested in real estate investing and entrepreneurship can join the Real Estate Investors Meetup, which meets regularly.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Wichita is home to one branch of Startup Grind, an organization with locations throughout the country that host conferences and workshops based around supporting entrepreneurship.

Women Entrepreneurs of Kansas is an organization dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurship that hosts regular events, including the annual EmpowerHer conference.

The Wichita Independent Business Association hosts a number of regular events designed to support and promote area small businesses.

The Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of business-oriented events, including networking opportunities, awards ceremonies for business owners and more.

 

Startup Competitions:

Technically hosted at Kansas State University, the Kansas Entrepreneurship Challenge is open to high school and college students from across the state and offers $75,000 in prizes.

Winners of the Koch Innovation Challenge, a competition for Wichita State University engineering students, will go on to compete at the national level.

Every year, students at WSU can compete in the school’s Shocker New Venture Challenge, which awards well over $15,000 worth of prizes to its winners.

 

Co-working Spaces:

With the goal of providing its members with a fun and professional work environment, Elevate Coworking offers a wide array of amenities and flexible membership plans.

In addition to simply providing co-working space, the organization provides its members access to its network of successful women and the resources they use to succeed.

The Labor Party is a co-working space that provides its members with 24/7 access to traditional open desk and private office options and hosts cultural entertainment events.

 

Makerspaces:

Located on WSU’s Innovation Campus, GoCreate is 18,000-square foot maker space open to the public that hosts regular classes.

MakeICT is an 8,700-square foot workshop with a variety of tools and equipment open to the public twice a month and with 24/7 access available to its members.

Across its many branches, the library offers 3D printing services, A/V production space, and some other small-scale opportunities for makers.

 

Incubators:

Part of the e2e Accelerator, CML Collective provides a number of services to help grow small businesses, from graphic design help to business development resources.

The Greater Wichita Partnership’s Entrepreneurship Task Force is dedicated to creating, supporting and managing entrepreneurial resources in the Wichita area.

Hosted at WSU, the Kansas Small Business Development Center offers training, workshops and other resources to help support area small business.

LaunchPrep, a joint effort of a local accelerator and WSU, is a three-month program that matches entrepreneurs with experienced mentors that will advise them.

 

Accelerators:

The goal of the e2e Accelerator program is to support local entrepreneurship and establish the city as a major hub of entrepreneurship and innovation.

A program of WSU but open to the public, E-Launch is dedicated to helping technology entrepreneurs succeed and bring their products to market.

Looking for an accelerator? Check out our Global Accelerator Register

 

Colleges/Universities:

While Newman University does not offer any degrees specifically focused on entrepreneurship, it does have eight distinct undergraduate programs in business and business administration.

WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship organizes many resources in and out of the classroom, including offering a major, minor and master’s degree in entrepreneurship.

In addition to offering a variety of degrees and certificates related to business, WSU Tech has the Shocker Pathway, an opportunity for students to continue their education at Wichita State.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

A program of the e2e Accelerator, Accelerate Venture Partners invests in promising early-stage companies in Kansas and the Midwest.

Based in Wichita, the Midwest Venture Alliance invests in high-growth seed- and early-stage technology companies across the state of Kansas.

This venture group is a venture capital fund managed by the Wichita Technology Corporation. They invest in early-stage technology startups in the area.

A program of the local university, WSU Ventures’ goal is to support the university’s faculty, staff, and students in commercializing products and launching startups.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

This journal offers several newsletters focusing on different aspects of the city’s entrepreneurial scene.

The Chamber of Commerce offers a quarterly newsletter in the Wichita Eagle. This, along with a weekly online newsletter, covers the area’s business scene.

This newspaper has a number of newsletter offerings, including the Midday Business Report, delivered every weekday.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Wichita not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Kansas City, MO, Little Rock, AR, Tulsa, OK


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.