Wichita was built by pioneering entrepreneurs with the guts to risk everything to build something new. Today, our city's entrepreneurial opportunities seem to be missing.
Watch this short video to learn more about the Entrepreneurship Challenge and what it means for Wichita.
MORE THAN A BUZZWORD
Wichita was built by entrepreneurs.
These were pioneers with the guts to risk everything in order to build something the world had never seen before. That spirit carried Wichita through decades of economic change. It created value from aviation, oil, agriculture and even franchising.
That spirit is still in Wichita. The ideas haven’t gone away, either. But Wichita native and business analyst James Chung finds that the entrepreneurial leaders and supporters this city once relied on to seize new opportunities seem to be missing.
Entrepreneurship no longer drives Wichita like it used to. ... Based on population size, Wichita should be seeing 10 to 20 million dollars in venture capital flow coming into Wichita. ... But it’s seeing, many years, zero.James Chung
Along with hardly a trace of venture capital, Wichita is seeing relatively few startups and almost no noticeable private equity investments. The last investment that made big waves in Wichita was in 2005, when Onex launched Spirit AeroSystems with around $105 million in funding. Chung says that kind of investment should be happening every year.
“Can you imagine if there’s a bet on something that could be Spirit that drops into Wichita every year?” he says. “Not all would succeed, but Wichita would be a really different place if it had stuff that capital flow could find.”
Can you imagine if there's a bet on something that could be Spirit [AeroSystems] that drops into Wichita every year?
Wichita still has a core built on entrepreneurship. And low living and labor costs could provide a much-needed catalyst for explosive growth, but the types of people that spurred job creation are no longer in Wichita in the high concentrations they once were.
Getting this population back will take more than a focus on entrepreneurial infrastructure like incubators and work spaces. It takes creating a culture that encourages investment and inspires innovation in the entrepreneurs already here and the ones to come.