Jacob Wayman Talks Entrepreneurship
Native Wichitan Jacob Wayman was born to a family of entrepreneurs.
"It’s always been in my blood to be an entrepreneur," he said.
Today, Wayman is involved with several local entrepreneurial groups, serving as the director of the e2e Accelerator, director of Wichita's Startup Grind and as a community organizer for 1 Million Cups.
Prior to his involvement in Wichita, Wayman was active in the Kansas City entrepreneurial community while he was studying for his Master's Degree at the University of Kansas. He was involved with 1 Million Cups and even had the opportunity to launch a similar program called Startup Rewind.
Now a well-connected member of the Wichita entrepreneurial community as well, Wayman credits his success to one simple thing: showing up.
"I just started showing up [to e2e Accelerator meetings]," Wayman said. "I showed up and everybody was kind of like ‘Who’s this kid? Why is her here?’ and I just kept showing up. As I kept showing up and showing up, people started taking note of it and they asked me to get involved."
Upon his return to Wichita, Wayman noticed that something was missing.
"When I moved back to Wichita, I noticed that 1 Million Cups wasn’t here," Wayman said. "I’d seen what it could do in Kansas City. It would bring in 100 people every single week to listen to entrepreneurs talk about their businesses, and I said ‘Why is that not here? Why are we not giving a stage to out entrepreneurs to talk about their businesses?"
Today, Wichita's chapter of 1 Million Cups has been up and running for over a year.
"We still get over 90 people weekly at those events, which is awesome," Wayman said.
"More to Offer than Aerospace, Oil and Gas"
According to Wayman, programs like 1 Million Cups are a great way for entrepreneurs to get connected
"What 1 Million Cups can offer the community is the ability to get educated and get engaged. Just get educated on what’s going on in our community. It will show you that our city’s made up of more than just aerospace, oil and gas; much more than that," Wayman said.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Wayman says there's a definite perception about Wichita.
"You'll hear people say it needs to be revived, revitalized. We need to try to create our own future instead of depending on what happened in the past." Wayman said. "We’re trying to figure out 'Who is Wichita going to be? Who do we want to be?' We’re in the process of figuring it out, and we're doing it a lot faster than a lot of other communities have."
According to Wayman, part of finding ourselves as a community deals largely with combating skepticism.
"One thing that has frustrated me about Wichita is that we are always the first to say, ‘Somebody else already did that. Why should we?’ We shouldn’t recreate the wheel, somebody else already created the wheel. Why don’t we just put rims on it? Why don’t we put our own spin on it? We can always take what they’ve done and reengineer it a different way," Wayman said.
Instead of writing off topics others have addressed, Wayman suggests examining them.
"What did they do wrong? What did they do well? This is our opportunity now to learn from their mistakes and from their successes," he said. "That’s what any entrepreneur should be doing. Look at what your competitors are doing and then do it your way."
"1 Million Cups: A Church for Entrepreneurs"
Though Wayman's exposure to the entrepreneurial community in Wichita came through the e2e Accelerator, he suggests that 1 Million Cups may be an even better place to get involved.
"1 Million Cups is probably the best starting point for people because it’s open to anyone, it's free and there’s no obligation for you to do anything." Wayman said. "One of the community organizers said it best, ‘1 Million Cups is like the church for entrepreneurs’ and it’s true. People come together and really celebrate entrepreneurship."
Where 1 Million Cups allows entrepreneurs to share their plans, goals and struggles right now, Startup Grind, an initiative that's new to Wichita this year, offers another perspective. Highlighting local entrepreneurs, this program allows aspiring entrepreneurs to see that there is success to be had right here in Wichita.
"Startup Grind is another great one because now you can learn from a successful entrepreneur in our community and you can tell yourself, ‘Hey, if they can do it, I can do it, too’," Wayman said.
Wichita is unique in that, because of its size, you can get very involved very quickly.
"I’ve been able to do all of these things just for the simple fact that I said 'Hey, I want to get involved'," Wayman said. For any entrepreneur, there are people here willing to help you.
"Show Up, Follow Up, Follow Through"
For Wichitans that are interested in entrepreneurship, Wayman says getting involved starts with simply showing up, just like he did.
"When I talk to anybody, really, what I talk about is show up, follow up, follow through. Show up to a meeting, follow up with a connection and follow through with a commitment. Then, I always ask the question, very much in the way that 1 Million Cups does, ‘What can we as a community do for you?’' Wayman said. "People want to see you become successful in this community."
The growth Wichita's community has seen in the past few years has Wayman optimistic for the future.
"If you’d have told me a year ago where we would be today, I’d have told you that you were crazy," Wayman said. "I’m optimistic for the future of entrepreneurship in our community. We rise to a challenge and we aren’t apologetic about it. We get things done. We’re a community that’s starting to learn to ask for forgiveness rather than permission."
Learn more about Wichita's entrepreneurial organizations.