Project United Knowledge was honored to host A Fireside Chat with Kiley Summers, Spendebt, and Bryan Shannon, TicketRX on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, during Techweek. Entrepreneurs, business leaders, and college students came together to learn about how to be more persistent, dating a potential business partner, the approach and more. Summers and Shannon provided a 30-minute session of stories and tactics that they used to raise their initial round of funds. Their stories are significant because minority founders struggle to raise funds for their businesses.

According to,Disparities in Access to Financial Capital Grow after First Year of Operations – Non-minority businesses invested an average of $45,000 annually into their firms, while minority-owned firms invested less than $30,000 on average after the first year of operation. The disparity in the financial capital between minority and non-minority firms was much larger in percentage terms for the next three years in operation than their first year. ”

Shannon and Summers have raised $100,000 combined through competitions and grants. Their story is unique because the disparity of raising funds as an African American male or female has challenges. Thankfully, they shared insight and tactics on how they broke past this barrier and are still growing for greater impact.

“I liked that we could interact in small groups. The breakouts, people had a potential perception about networking that it was hard and a weird process. So by interacting, they were better able to understand the basic principles of being intentional, deliberate, and present in your interactions” Bryan Shannon.

The CEO of Techweek dropped by UMKC’s Bloch Venture Hub and listen to a portion of the Fireside Chat.

Breakout sessions allowed visitors to speak with Summers, Shannon, and each other one-on-one. Project UK’s team separated the group on key highlights from the discussion: The Approach, Engagement, and Intention. Groups were encouraged to role-play, ask questions, and listen.


Some participants realized that listening was a skill that they needed to revisit. Overall a great success with over 80 in attendance. We were honored to have LightupBooth in attendance to capture our memories.

LightupBooth is a business that helps organizations capture moments and tell their visual story.

All in all, networking takes persistence and courage. We encourage you to network with intent and offer value to whomever you network with.