Insight into Greater Kansas City’s growing entrepreneurial environment and tips for small business owners drew nearly 150 people to the Sept. 23 Small Business Bootcamp at the Woodneath branch of Mid-Continent Public Library.
Sponsored by the Clay County Economic Development Council and the library, the event featured keynote speaker Rachel Hack Merlo, Google Fiber Community Impact Manager – Kansas City. Merlo wasted no time detailing how the giant Internet firm has impacted even the smallest businesses since the area was selected as the nation’s first gigabit region in 2011.
“Small businesses could get gigabit speed before, but it was very expensive,” Merlo said of the high-speed broadband available through Google fiber. “Small businesses are using more and more technology. That has dramatically increased in the last three years.” She noted businesses from across the country even bought homes in the region in order to access the original, residential-only system.
Even firms not directly involved in technology find that fiber’s 10- and 100-times-faster speeds allow for undreamed of application. “It’s more convenient for sharing big files like video or cloud backup,” Merlo said. “But often you don’t know what you’re capable of until you try it.” She noted one example where a restaurant began offering online video classes with their chef. In another case, an architectural firm developed virtual renderings that allow customers can “walk through” building designs online.
Following the keynote, the audience attended breakout sessions on Internet marketing, building brand for small businesses, working with local media, non-traditional advertising and creating a pitch for potential investors.
Those attending ranged from area high school students to veteran business owners. The bootcamps began as an annual event, but have continued to draw larger audiences even after they were expanded to the current, twice yearly schedule.
Article and photo courtesy Dale Garrison of DGInform.com.