Pipeline Fellowship Applications Due Today
Starting your own business is quite a task. You must build a financial base, select employees and develop a long-standing business platform.
Pipeline helps innovators complete all these objectives and more. It’s a year-long entrepreneurial fellowship program in Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.
“We’re looking for entrepreneurs that are already showing signs of the type of talent that could build significant companies right in their backyard,” said Joni Cobb, president and CEO of Pipeline. “We help them build the skills and networks for long-term sustainability.”
The class focuses on models, ventures, peer work and networking with business professionals throughout the country. Cobb said these national connections are important to help entrepreneurs expand into new markets and gain funding.
“They really need to understand to process of identifying a viable market, ensuring they have a sound business model, have a firm understanding of leadership in their company and very well honed skills in communicating,” Cobb said. “It’s a really quick infusion for resources for entrepreneurs. Besides that, we just have a lot of fun.”
Blake Lawrence, CEO of Hurrdat Social Media, said Pipeline helped him find a focal point to better develop his business.
“When I entered Pipeline, I had a lot of confusion as to where I should focus my time and energy because we had launched a software product as well,” Lawrence said. “Pipeline allowed me to take a step back and truly analyze both opportunities and move forward with pursuing the most valuable opportunity.”
Because Pipeline is a non-profit organization, it doesn’t ask for any form of payment from entrepreneurs. Cobb said it’s important that Pipeline focus on the entrepreneur, not the company as a whole. She said entrepreneurs drive the process and keep up with Pipeline after “graduating” from the program.
“It’s just a year long, but certainly the people who have gone through their first year continue to be involved,” said Ben Pankonin, co-founder of Social Assurance. “It’s a program that consists of mentorship of the other fellows who have been through the program, as well as a network of mentors that are nationwide.”
Pankonin is enrolled in the class now, along with 10 other entrepreneurs. Applications for next year’s class are due Oct. 29, and Pankonin said applicants should hurry if they haven’t already applied. He urges them to consider the lifelong impact of their business during the application process.
Lawrence said applying is valuable even if entrepreneurs are not accepted into the program.
“The process of applying to Pipeline forces entrepreneurs to write down the potential of their business and think of their business model and structure,” Lawrence said. “You learn a lot by just applying. If you get invited to an interview, you get the opportunity to sit among some very influential people from across the country. Even if you don’t get into the class, interviewing and applying are two very good things you can do for your career.”
While Pipeline only works with entrepreneurs for one year, Cobb said the impact stays with them for a lifetime.
“Pipeline is focused on long-term support of entrepreneurs, not just one year,” Cobb said. “It’s an initial fellowship and the skills stay with them for the rest of their careers.”