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Profile: John Coler of Techstars

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Kyle Geary  — The Hale Center for Journalism

John Coler is a young Kansas City–based entrepreneur who has worked in different areas throughout the local entrepreneur community. Recently, he joined the Techstars team and is now based out of the Sprint Accelerator in the Crossroads District.

Who is John Coler?

“A 22-year-old KC Native who is an alumni at two of Kansas’ fine institutions of higher learning, the KU’s School of Business and Johnson County Community College.

I am a health conscious pescaterian and knowledge junkie, who enjoys coffee or beer as a beverage (especially at a social event) and one who seeks out great songs before they become mainstream on Spotify. I am a recurring attendee to local events such as the Athena League, Lean KC Meetup, Lean Startup Machine, 1 Million Cups, Silicon Prairie News Meetup and Twenty30CEO. If you have not checked any of those out, you should.”

You have worked in different parts of the entrepreneurial community, what were some of the roles you filled?

“I have been fortunate to work with Brandon Schatz and the great team at SportsPhotos.com, out of the Startup Village, as a Marketing and Business Development Associate. On the side, I assisted with coordination of guests for Entrepreneur KC Radio Show with Jason Grill. Now, I most recently joined over here at the Sprint Accelerator working with the world-class program, powered by Techstars, as an associate in the Crossroads District right before the program began in early March.”

What do you do at Techstars, and what does that entail?

“First and foremost, I am part of a powerful team at Techstars. The particular role is as a Techstars Associate which I share with some of Kansas City’s up-and-coming talent and leaders which includes: Brian Kitahara, Jordan Siebenmorgen, Jon Stevens, Chris Thomas and Shawna Westphal; our Hackstar Nick Schulte, and certainly the two that make this ship sail our experienced leaders, Program Manager Alisha Templeton and the Managing Director John Fein.

Even more, as a team we began with a lot of logistical framework of how best to host over 120 mentors as they arrived within a few weeks and managed to do so like a well-oiled machine. This was followed by more business-intensive, project-based jobs for the 10 teams in the program. As associates, we are able to find and execute projects that fit our interest and specialities. The learnings thus far have to be a near equivalent to receiving a MBA. Keep an eye out for what these 10 companies do for the future of mobile health, I know I will and will be able to happily say I was a part of that.”

What brought you to work in this field?

“A supreme interest in wanting to think and act outside the status quo and make as big of a positive impact in people’s lives. Additionally, timing always helps in making a decision. Also, not without mention, the growing startup community in KC has been tremendously supportive and draws some of the most intelligent people I have met. Each person I kept meeting gave off good vibes and advice to live by.”

What is the biggest obstacle that you have dealt with in your field?

“It is a personal one of figuring when and what I should take the ‘entrepreneurial plunge’  on and start my own venture. I have been warming up in the batter’s box, and I feel loose.”

What is the most exciting part of your work?

“Working on life-changing and innovative ideas with enthused, hard-working, genuine, passionate people. Honestly, you will catch my drift if you truly become aware of what is going on in our local economy and meet these people.”

What should we expect to see from you in the near future?

“Changing lives through advocating for healthier lifestyle choices. Whether that be through an organization that is connecting the entrepreneurial and business community via scheduled running/athletic activities in and around KC (StartupShoes) or through researching, producing and testing a concept geared toward teams building in the modern world in hopes of raising interaction between people relationships and gathering data to back it up. If you know anyone who these are areas of interest to, I am looking for similarly driven individuals.”

What do you think the future has in store for the local entrepreneur community?

“Do know this, there will be rough patches from time-to-time for any individual that is part of this ecosystem. But nothing that perseverance and smart, fast reiteration cannot solve. I am optimistic for the future of KC, the tracks have been laid, and there is too much going for this community to simply not capitalize it. We have the resources to make way for future generations, build up the thought of economic interdependence, spread more vastly our support networks and continue to deliver on a reasonable cost of living, Midwestern values, work ethic and continue to aim through hardship to the stars.”

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