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Startup Panel | Accessing Growth Capital

About the Session

The Accessing Growth Capital panel is comprised of a wide array of funding experts: from more traditional sources such as commercial banks to angel syndicates and venture capital. This panel will discuss what they look for when evaluating funding startups, best practices for building a relationship with a capital provider, war stories, and how to distinguish if outside investment makes sense for your startup.

About the Moderator

Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Jacob Oconner

Jacob O’Connor

NXTUS, Accelerate Venture Partners Capital Program & Syndicate Manager
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Jacob O’Connor

NXTUS, Accelerate Venture Partners Capital Program & Syndicate Manager

Jacob O’Connor is the Syndicate & Capital Manager for Accelerate Venture Partners (AVP)– an angel investment syndicate based out of Wichita, KS. AVP is the investment arm of NXTUS, an entrepreneurial support organization. AVP has mobilized $7M+ in capital across the Heartland with a focus on tech-enabled startups.

Jacob gained exposure to entrepreneurship, private finance, and the regional innovation ecosystem during his time as a Fran Jabara Scholar at Wichita State University. He founded two companies; served as an analyst with the University Venture Crossroads venture capital program; and completed project management, advanced manufacturing, and investment internships with Spirit AeroSystems, NXTUS, UVFC, and other firms in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. He also hosts a podcast, where he interviews high performers such as the Co Founder of Netflix, CEOs, investors, pro athletes, and other interesting people.

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About the Panelists

Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Trish Brasted

Trish Brasted

EGV, President
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Trish Brasted

EGV, President

Trish Brasted, entrepreneur, and ecosystem builder serves as the leader of Entrepreneurial Growth Ventures (EGV), a newly created business unit of NetWork Kansas. EGV was created with the acquisition of Wichita Technology Corporation, and Wichita Technology Ventures, (WTV), where Trish served as CEO for the past 25 years.

EGV’s mission involves building and enhancing the network of resources to increase the capacity and support for innovative, high growth entrepreneurs in Kansas. EGV collaborates across the state with community leaders, economic development organizations, universities, government entities and other entrepreneur support organizations to provide the entrepreneurs of Kansas valuable access to education, mentorship and capital. The EGV team is also responsible for managing the $27M dollar GROWKS Equity Programs. Trish has a long history in finance and entrepreneurship and understands the risks entrepreneurs face, the courage it takes to start a new venture and the process of growing a successful organization. Under her leadership, her team has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs, and invested seed capital dollars in over 100 technology companies in Kansas. Trish is a CPA, earned her bachelor’s degree from Wichita State University, and her master’s from Baker University. She is a frequent speaker on accessing venture capital and angel investing and serves on the boards of several private technology companies.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Imagene Harris

Imagene Harris

NetWork Kansas, Vice President of Impact Investment Services
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Imagene Harris

NetWork Kansas, Vice President of Impact Investment Services

Imagene serves as the Vice President of Impact Investment Services and oversees NetWork Kansas’s statewide funding programs. Imagene joined NetWork Kansas in December 2013 after working in compliance for the Kansas Department of Health andEnvironment (KDHE). She is a lifelong Kansan, hailing from Ottawa and now callingLawrence home, where she also earned a BS in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas. In 2018 She completed her Masters of Business Administration from Fort HaysState University. Imagene appreciates the opportunity to work for an organization whose resources not only help Kansas businesses and entrepreneurs but also improve the quality of life in Kansas. When she’s not on a Zoom call, Imagene is doing her best to keep up with her old farmhouse and wrangling her 2 kids, dogs, and horses.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Josh Oeding

Josh Oeding

Tenzing Capital Ventures, Founder & General Partner

Josh Oeding

Tenzing Capital Ventures, Founder & General Partner
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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Liam Reilly2

Liam Reilly

KCRise Fund, Principal
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Liam Reilly

KCRise Fund, Principal

Liam is a Principal at KCRise Fund, where he is primarily responsible for:

  • finding promising high-growth technologies startups as early as the idea and conception stage
  • guiding evaluation of investment opportunities from intro to investment memo
  • managing the various aspects of deal execution and closing
  • supporting existing portfolio companies through research, network exploration, board positions, and more
  • leading opportunities for investor engagement through fund-related content management and
    organizing reoccurring events

Liam is a connector at heart and is always eager to bring his networks to bear to create new opportunities for growth and expansion.

An experience as a small business owner in college instilled in Liam an early passion for entrepreneurship, and an internship with the university technology transfer office in law school drove home the importance of commercialization for effective, impactful innovation.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Debra Swearingen Lyles

Debra Swearingen Lyles

Emprise Bank, Market President of Kansas City
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Debra Swearingen Lyles

Emprise Bank, Market President of Kansas City

Swearingen joined Emprise Bank in August 2022 as SVP Commercial Banker and was promoted to Market President of Kansas City in May 2023.  She comes to Emprise with extensive experience stemming from more than 25 years in the banking industry in a variety of leadership roles. During that time, she has honed her expertise in the areas of commercial lending, business development, staff mentorship, and leadership development.

Swearingen is personally and professionally engaged in serving the KC community. She was recently named the Executive Committee Chair for the 2023 and 2024 FashionAbility Gala for Inclusion Connections, an organization that supports and celebrates the special needs community in Olathe and surrounding areas.

In May 2021, she was named to the Twenty to Know in Banking list by the Kansas City Business Journal. She is an active member of CREW KC and served as President in 2018. She is an advocate of women in commercial real estate and works to elevate the CREW KC presence in the Kansas City area.  

Her current involvement also includes membership on the Advisory Council Board for the Salvation Army of Olathe as well as nonprofit board positions for the Kansas City Kansas School Foundation and Newhouse Shelter. She is an active member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber, as well as several other Chambers throughout the KC Metro areas. She is a co-founder of South Johnson County 100 Women Who Care, which provides funds to local 501c3 organizations to improve our communities.

Additionally, Swearingen is a Graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy of Kansas City, a Graduate of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, a Graduate of the Citizen’s Academy of the Olathe Police Department, and a licensed Kansas Realtor.  

Swearingen is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in Business Communications.

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Flagship Ad Astra Technology Summit Speaker Shawn Whisenhant

Shawn Whisenhant

Fidelity Bank, Assistant Vice President - Business 360 Commercial Banking
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Shawn Whisenhant

Fidelity Bank, Assistant Vice President - Business 360 Commercial Banking

Shawn Whisenhant is a Wichita native, growing up in College Hill, attending East High School and later Wichita State University, starting his professional career in banking and living in Wichita until 2001.

Now, after chasing jobs all over the country for 21 years living in West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Denver and most recently Waterbury Connecticut, Shawn and his wife Vicki decided that coming back home to Wichita in 2021 was the right thing to do. It has proven to be a great move for Shawn & Vicki, personally and professionally.

Shawn started his professional career in Bank IV and later Commerce Bank, spending the majority of his time in business development roles. In 2001, Shawn and Vicki, together with their son moved to South Florida with Vicki’s career. Shawn continued in retail banking and later, commercial banking until 2010 when he struck out on his own and consulted for a startup social media and marketing company. In 2011, he started his own company that serviced the Higher Education Industry, later selling the company in 2016. Staying in Higher-Ed, Shawn led a national business development team for a private university in Connecticut until May 2021. After moving to Wichita, getting settled in to town with family and life-long friends, Shawn joined Fidelity Bank in January 2022 on the Commercial Lending Team.

Leadership in business and in non-profit organizations is not new to Shawn, he has been a member of many non-profit boards and has served in many capacities. These organizations have been focused primarily on industry specific business initiates, but also child advocacy and civic clubs. Shawn is a 18+ year member of Rotary International, serving in 3 clubs of various sizes over his tenure.

Personally, Shawn and Vicki have been together over 33 years and in December of 2023 they will celebrate their 30 th wedding anniversary. Vicki is a Human Resources Executive and is currently leading Chief Human Resources Officer for Wichita State University. Together they have one son, Chris that was adopted when he was 10. Now 37, he and his wife, Debbie live in Florida with their two girls, Amelia (7) and Layla (3). You can imagine that Florida is top of the travel destination list for Vicki & Shawn or as they are known, Nana & PopPop. Travel is a big passion for Shawn & Vicki, having extensively traveled abroad and domestically. In 2020 they started camping and have camped in numerous campgrounds and state parks in about 18 states. Shawn is an avid home-chef and BBQ enthusiast, even winning a couple of BBQ Cooking competitions over the years.

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS & MEMBERSHIPS
Shawn has served on and held leadership positions on numerous Civic and Community focused boards and advisory committees in many markets over the last 30 plus years.

Current Wichita Professional affiliations:

  • Create Campaign – Board of Directors
  • Wichita Urban E-Community – Banking Community Partner
  • Wichita Rotary Club Downtown – Treasurer
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