Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Honor Visionary Leaders in KC, Beyond

Honorees included tech giants and artists
Tom Bloch presents the Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year Award to David Steward

Six innovators were awarded during the Henry W. Bloch School of Management Regnier Institute’s annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Started in 1985, the event celebrates the contributions of entrepreneurs in Kansas City and beyond by recognizing the work of Kansas City entrepreneurs and leaders, global industry leaders and students.

The 2022 awardees:

Henry W. Bloch International Entrepreneur of the Year Award: David Steward, founder and chairman of World Wide Technology.

David Steward began WWT in 1990 with a handful of employees and a 4,000-square-foot office. WWT now employs more than 9,000 people at more than 20 facilities around the world. It generates more than $16 billion in annual revenue. Steward is a civic leader and philanthropist committed to expanding opportunities for Black people and others from historically under-represented and underserved communities.

Kansas City Entrepreneur of the Year: Justin Davis, co-founder and CEO, BacklotCars.

Justin Davis has never taken no for an answer. When he launched BacklotCars in 2015, Davis said he was criticized by those who did not see his vision to create a new model for wholesale automotive auctions, replacing scheduled events with a 24/7 online marketplace for dealers. However, he persisted.

“Entrepreneurship is about being bold,” said Davis. “It’s about brining an unlikely group together and building something special.”

Just five years after it launched, BacklotCars sold for $425 million. Davis stayed on as CEO.

Marion and John Kreamer Award for Social Entrepreneurship: Bart Houlahan, Jay Coen Gilbert and Andrew Kassoy, co-founders of B Lab

Founded in 2006, B Lab provides a corporate certification program to companies that meet rigorous standards in addressing social and environmental problems through their businesses. It has now grown to include nearly 6,000 companies around the world who have committed to using business for good.

Student Entrepreneur of the Year: Tate Berry

Tate Berry receives his award from Jeff HornsbyTate Berry is a double major in jazz studies and business administration. He previously won the Honorable Mention Creative Venture prize in the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge with his concept for a big band and is also working on launching an online music entrepreneurship studio that also serves as a more affordable alternative to music school. As part of his honor, Berry will receive a $2,500 scholarship.

Prior to the event, attendees learned about business ventures by students from Bloch and the Kansas City Art Institute at the Student Venture Showcase.

“Kansas City has a long history of creating and supporting entrepreneurs, and UMKC is committed to bolstering that culture by both providing resources for entrepreneurs and providing our students with hands-on learning experiences - on campus and in the community,” said Chancellor Mauli Agrawal.

All proceeds from this event directly benefit the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s student and community programs. The Regnier Institute at the Bloch School focuses on connecting students and community members with a comprehensive combination of world-class research, renowned faculty, cutting-edge curriculum and experimental programs driven to deliver results and nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Top Stories