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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


UCM Introduces The 'UCM Big Idea Program' for Student Entrepreneurs

Contact: Mike Greife
WARRENSBURG, MO (Aug. 18, 2016) – Danny O’Neill, Kansas City regional Entrepreneur of the Year  and founder and owner of The Roasterie, the Kansas City home of air-roasted coffees and coffee cafes, will be the honorary host and keynote speaker for the UCM Big Idea Conference Aug. 24 at the University of Central Missouri.

Danny ONeill
Danny O'Neill

O’Neill will share his own story of entrepreneurial achievement while encouraging students to pursue their own dreams of business success. O’Neill launched the quality coffee production company in 1993, and he opened the first Roasterie Café in the Brookside area of Kansas City in 2005. The company has grown to include three cafes and a roasting factory with event space.

 The UCM Big Idea Conference will bring area entrepreneurs to UCM for a day of mentoring with UCM students. Following O’Neill’s keynote address, more than 90 selected UCM students will be matched in teams with 32 mentors—regional entrepreneurs, local business owners and UCM alumni—in a “speed networking” process. The young entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to develop their innovative business plans in collaboration with their mentors, presenting them at the end of the day in competition for first, second and third place recognition.

The Big Idea Conference is the kickoff of a series of events planned for the UCM Big Idea Program during the 2016-17 academic year. Beginning fall 2016, The UCM Big Idea College Entrepreneurs Organization will be a new student organization that will provide ongoing support for the creation of mentoring relationships between students, business leaders and UCM alumni. The team will compete in local, regional and national entrepreneurship competitions, conduct fundraising activities and provide community service.

In addition, The Big Idea CEOs also will assist in coordinating the entrepreneurial speaker series sponsored by the Blaine Whitworth Memorial Foundation. The series offers public presentations by seasoned entrepreneurs who share their experiences and “lessons learned,” increasing interest in entrepreneurship and social enterprise as career options.

Bringing the academic year of activities to a close in April 2017, the UCM Big Idea Program will sponsor the UCM Big Idea Pitch Competition, recognizing innovative business ideas and encouraging young entrepreneurs from the UCM campus and surrounding community. Invited entrepreneurs and UCM alumni will serve as judges and/or investors, evaluating presentations and business plans presented by participants. Prizes of $3,000, $1,500 and $500 will be awarded to first, second and third place winners.

“The primary goal of The Big Idea Program is to create a deeper connection between UCM students and the business community through ‘step-ahead’ mentoring where more experienced entrepreneurs are supporting the next generation of business innovators,” said Dan Jensen, assistant professor of management and coordinator of the Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise undergraduate program. “With the support of the university, the Warrensburg Chamber, the Blaine Whitworth Memorial Foundation, the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program, and many others, we will generate successful start-ups, new jobs, and a stronger entrepreneurial environment.”

For more information about the UCM Big Idea Conference, as well as other UCM Big Idea Program events, contact Jensen at