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Entrepreneurs Achieve Success With a Little Help from MSBF

February 2018

Eric Jurgeson (foreground), Mycroft vice president of business development, explained how the company offers an open source, voice-activated artificial intelligence system during the Midwest Small Business Finance Annual Meeting Feb. 14. Watching the presentation was David Palmstein, directing partner of the Northland Angel Investor Network, which provided funding for Mycroft.

Hard work, access to capital and entrepreneurial vision were celebrated during the Midwest Small Business Financing (MSBF) annual meeting Feb. 14.

Two dramatic businesses were also recognized in connection with the Northland Angel Investor Network. One of these, Mycroft AI, is launching an artificial intelligence voice system similar to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Echo. However, Mycroft’s open source system could be used in everything from automobiles to health care systems.

“It’s customizable,” explained Eric Jurgeson, Mycroft vice president of business development. “You can even customize the voice in order to select the best one for a car or another environment. That’s something that some of the biggest companies in the world can’t do.”

The other recognized businesses were equally important for their owners and dozens of new employees hired as part of their expansion. “Being able to complete a loan and grow a business, to create jobs and help families – that’s just an unbelievable feeling,” explained Jim Hampton, director of MSBF. “These companies deserve our recognition.”

Hampton noted that over the past year, MSBF has completed eight loans totaling nearly $4 million. These helped leverage a total of approximately $8 million in business investment and created 50 new jobs.

Businesses recognized at the event included Dairy Queen at 8530 North Oak Trafficway represented by owner Jessica Edens; Kountry Kuts in Richmond represented by owner Marissa Orender; and The Dry Cleaner Of Kansas City, Inc. with owner Mary Weber.

All three businesses grew during 2017 with assistance of Small Business Administration or Revolving Fund loans administered by MSBF. Each recounted stories of dramatic expansion made possible by hard work and the availability of low-interest capital.

Sharing the spotlight was MSBF affiliate, the Northland Angel Investor Network (NAIN). Directing Partner David Palmstein recognized two companies, Mycroft AI and LendingStandard, which has developed a digital loan management system now being used by the federal government. LendingStandard was launched with a $2 million loan from NAIN and was recently valued at $24 million.

Business owners recognized at the Midwest Small Business Finance annual meeting included (from left) Marissa Orender, owner of Kountry Kuts in Richmond; Danielle Fraizer, representing owner Mary Weber of the Dry Cleaner of Kansas City; and Jessica Edens, co-owner of Dairy Queen, 8530 North Oak Trafficway.

“It is a lot of work,” Palmstein said, noting that five companies were selected for investment last year after more than 500 were reviewed. “But that effort increases their chances of success and dramatically improves our returns.”

Other businesses selected for NAIN investment in 2017 included the developers of a digital school bus tracking system. Another created a high-tech medication bottle that measures doses taken and phones the patient and doctor if medication is not taken as directed. Palmstein estimated that over the next two years, as many as 200 new jobs will be created through NAIN investments.

“And this is only the start,” he concluded.

The annual meeting was held at the Embassy Suites Kansas City - International Airport Hotel. Both MSBF and NAIN are affiliates of the Clay County Economic Development Council.

For more information contact the EDC at (816) 468-4989 or

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