Melissa Roberts Chapman

3 Tips to Driving Growth and Innovation

This series, 60 Second Skinny, is a brief interview with select partners, speakers, and influencers in each FUND market! In this interview you’ll get the inside scoop from Melissa Roberts Chapman on the Kauffman Foundation’s programs, 2020 initiatives and entrepreneurial advice.

Meet Melissa

Melissa has made a significant impact in the Kansas City entrepreneurial ecosystem and continuing to drive innovation. She started her career as the founding organizer for 1 Million Cups, then Vice President of Strategy and Economic Development  at Enterprise Center in Johnson County, to a Senior Program Officer at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation where she manages a diverse grant portfolio. Throughout her career she always tries to find ways to give back to the community.

 “If you are generous with your time, that will come back to you. Nine out of ten people will forget what you did but that one person will remember your generosity and that will change your life. It just shows that a little goes a long way and it doesn’t matter where someone is right now in their business lifecycle, it’s the resources that really matter.”

Melissa’s Entrepreneurial Advice:

  1. Find people in who you can share the risk. Think about the risk that is hardest for you to stomach and find people to share that risk with you. Have the systemic mindset of ‘how can I find ways to show the reward of the risk?’ 
  2. Knowing your customer is so simple but so important! Don’t lose sight of your customer, they are the backbone to your business.
  3. Understand what success looks like for you and don’t let society change that vision and don’t be resistant to feedback.  

2020 Initiatives

Kauffman is continually implementing new programs and initiatives to better drive innovation within the ecosystem. In 2020, they are launching the Heartland Strategy; this engages the surrounding region (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, etc.) to think differently on the role of entrepreneurship and changing the face of economic development. To drive this initiative the Kauffman team is working with entrepreneurs to concentrate on the shared problem that keeps founders from success and targeting outside investors and industry experts to together build the startup community.

Involvement with FUND

FUND is excited to partner with the Kauffman Foundation for our first annual FUND KC event. Kauffman has such a strong relationship with the entrepreneurial ecosystem within Kansas City and continues to drive economic development forward. Check out what makes Melissa most excited about this partnership:

Anytime there is an event or effort to elevate the ‘best of the midwest’- Kauffman will be at the table. FUND is focused on bringing exposure to places they have conferences in and bring in top flight venture talent. This is a win-win because Kansas City benefits from the additional resources and exposure but investors benefit from the investments with this region.

Keep in Touch

If you’re looking for resources to help accelerate your company, reach out to the Kauffman team. They continue to work with entrepreneurs, empower them with tools and resources, and work to break down barriers that stand in the way of starting and growing their businesses.

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