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Kansas' Biggest Tech Event

Ad Astra Tech Summit

Startup Panel | Fueling Tech Dreams: Kansas’ Wealth of Resources for Emerging Innovators

About the Session

Get to know some of the ecosystem offerings that help establish, mentor, and accelerate tech entrepreneurs throughout Kansas.  Through a reverse pitch session, discover how these programs and supporters can provide you with resources and community as you validate your ideas, refine your business model, and accelerate your growth trajectory throughout every stage of your journey.

About the Moderator

Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Amber Dunn2

Amber Dunn

NXTUS, Program Manager
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Amber Dunn

NXTUS, Program Manager

Amber, a Kansas native and proud graduate of Wichita State University’s Barton School of Business, began her career at RSM Marketing — one of the state’s largest marketing and advertising firms. Her dynamic experience working alongside clients from startups to corporates eventually lead her to contribute her skills to a local startup in the personal wellness sector.

Driven by a desire to help entrepreneurs build companies of significance, Amber thrives on helping entrepreneurs gain traction with their vision. After joining NXTUS in 2022, she spearheaded the development of two new initiatives called the NXTSTAGE Customer Traction Cohort and the NXTSTAGE Enterprise Engagement Series, further supporting entrepreneurs throughout the state of Kansas along their journey.

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About the Panelists

Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Cabral Alejo

Alejo Cabral

Create Campaign, Inc., Spark Program Director
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Alejo Cabral

Create Campaign, Inc., Spark Program Director

Alejo Cabral a first-generation American, the son of two immigrant parents, the youngest sibling of three, husband to a wonderful wife, and now father to a baby girl. He was born and raised in Chula Vista, California but has called Wichita his home for the
last eleven years.

Alejo works at Create Campaign, Inc. as the Spark Program Director and oversees the Spark Community Business Academy; a 12-week program where entrepreneurs develop a blueprint for success. Alejo Cabral sees himself as a doorstop, ensuring opportunities remain open and available for underrepresented professionals, organizations, and communities.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Dave Cunningham

Dave Cunningham

Flint Hills Group, CEO
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Dave Cunningham

Flint Hills Group, CEO

Dave Cunningham is the founder and CEO of the Flint Hills Group, a software consultancy which combines exceptional engineering with Midwestern work ethics.

As a seasoned technical leader with over 35 years of experience in software engineering, Dave has assembled a highly skilled pool of US software engineering talent who stand ready to support you in growing your business.

Dave is a graduate of Wichita State University, with a BS in Computer Science, Dave has been an engineering and IT leader at Boeing, Pizza Hut Corporate, Cargill, NetApp and Koch Industries. He has been an active member of the business community in Wichita and the State of Kansas.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Jaime Gassmann

Jaime Gassmann

1848 Ventures / Order Monster / Fluent, CEO
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Jaime Gassmann

1848 Ventures / Order Monster / Fluent, CEO

Jaime Gassmann is a serial entrepreneur who loves taking companies from zero to one. She has founded both ecommerce and B2B SaaS businesses. As co-founder at Fluent, she helped create a FICO score for startups and also coached in accelerators across the country. Currently, she works the corporate innovation studio 1848 Ventures as a venture developer, and within that studio has launched an app that automates backend processes for retailers called Order Monster. A native Kansan, Jaime earned her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas, and has now come back full circle as a volunteer mentor to student entrepreneurs at KU. She also created the Lawrence Tech Guild, an informal group of tech workers who meet monthly.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Zeeshan Khan

Zeeshan Khan

WSU Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Program Manager
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Zeeshan Khan

WSU Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Program Manager

Zeeshan Khan is often characterized by his passion for innovation, expertise in engineering, and entrepreneurial spirit. Born and raised in Wichita, Zeeshan’s roots in the city have played a significant role in shaping his illustrious career.

Education has always been a cornerstone of Zeeshan’s life. He graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Innovation Design. This unique combination of disciplines equipped him with the ability to merge scientific knowledge with creative ingenuity.

Zeeshan’s career matured as he ventured into the aerospace industry. Notably, he played an integral role in the B1-B Digital Twin Program and Environmental Testing for The New Air Force One at the National Institute for Aviation Research. His innovative ideas and meticulous project management skills contributed significantly to the successful execution of these high-stakes ventures.

Eager to explore new horizons and driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, Zeeshan established his own business – JAZ LLC Management and Consulting firm. Under his leadership, the company thrives, offering expert insights and project management services to clients in various industries. This venture showcased Zeeshan’s ability to seamlessly blend his technical expertise with his strategic business acumen.

Continuing to embrace novel challenges, Zeeshan transitioned into academia and joined Wichita State University. As the Program Manager for the Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization, he is spearheading initiatives, facilitating the transformation of innovative research and ideas into real-world applications, and fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within the university community and the state of Kansas.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Troy Tabor

Troy Tabor

WSU Center for Entrepreneurship, Director
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Troy Tabor

WSU Center for Entrepreneurship, Director

Troy is a tech industry veteran with over 30 years of experience in web, software, and hardware spaces. His expertise lies in process refinement, technology integration, and working with C-level managers to optimize business flow. Concurrently serving on the Andover City council and as the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Wichita State University, Troy is deeply engaged in business and governance. With a vision to bring his experiences and technological know-how to a broader stage, he aims to inject fresh perspectives and tackle the technological challenges faced by the private and public sectors alike. As an entrepreneur at heart, Troy thrives on collaborating with diverse teams and solving complex problems, with a strong desire to give back and make a lasting impact.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Rachell Rowand

Rachèll Rowand

Kansas Department of Commerce - Office of Innovation, Program Manager
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Rachèll Rowand

Kansas Department of Commerce - Office of Innovation, Program Manager

Rachèll is a Program Manager in the Office of Innovation for the State of Kansas who specializes in startup funding opportunities. She has more than a decade of experience working for the state and is an invaluable resource for the Kansas Startup Ecosystem. With a background in human resources, public policy, and CPT, she utilizes economic policies and programs to foster grassroots enterprise growth. Personal adversities have fueled her passion for advocating barrier removal, promoting knowledge exchange, and encouraging ecosystem collaborations, all in the pursuit of improving the chances of success for Kansas entrepreneurs.

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