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September 21, 2006

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

If you are an NPR listener, you might recognize the name Ewing Marion Kauffman.  If you are a sports fan, you might know that Mr. Kauffman brought major league baseball back to Kansas City by buying the Royals in 1968.  You might also know that he was a great entrepreneur, starting Marion Labs in his basement.  The company began with $36,000 in revenue the first year, and was doing almost a billion a year in revenue when it was acquired by Merrell Dow thirty-nine years later.  Mr. Kauffman believed that the best way to improve the world was to educate people and create jobs, and he felt an obligation to do just that.  I imagine he would rather I mention that the company employed over 3,400 people and touched the lives of countless others, than to reduce it to stock-market terms of revenue and return on investment.  Long before his death in 1993, Mr. Kauffman planned for the foundation that would survive him and continue the work of educating people and encouraging enterprise (to create jobs) through entrepreneurship.  Today that foundation is the 26th largest foundation in the U.S. with an asset base of approximately $2 billion dollars.

Every entrepreneur should read this article that Mr. Kauffman wrote about his inspiration for starting his company, and the beliefs he held that made it great.  I first became aware of the Kauffman Foundation as a struggling entrepreneur when I met Katherine Catlin, Jana Matthews and Bill Payne.  Katherine was the first person to talk to me about culture and values and how they fit in a business, Jana helped me understand growth and leadership, and Bill has helped me in so many ways that I can't describe.  They are all great supporters of entrepreneurs, especially struggling entrepreneurs, and they are all connected to the Kauffman Foundation.

And now I get the chance to pass on some of the support that I've received directly and indirectly from the Kauffman Foundation.  I've been asked to contribute on a regular basis to the Kauffman eVenturing website.  I'll be giving the "working entrepreneur" perspective on a variety of topics, and I have to say that it is an honor, it is exciting, but it is also very scary.  I expect to do my first post within the next week or two and I'm already nervous about it.  Maybe I'll start just by telling some of the great stories I've heard about Mr. Kauffman and about how his foundation is carrying on the good work to help make the world a better place.  I expect to be cross-posting most articles here, so stay tuned and wish me luck.

September 21, 2006 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink


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Thank you for this post. I read his article and was moved by it and said "Uh-huh, yep" a lot as I read. I think it's wonderful that you will be contributing to the website. What an honor. And I'm sure it's scary, so I'm going to tell you a couple of things I've learned about you in our short acquaintance:

--You're a good writer.
--You write with heart because you live with heart.
--At Gold Systems, you practice what Kauffman shares in his article.

I really look forward to reading what you have to say on Mr. Kauffman's website as much as I look forward to reading your blogs. I'm no techie, as you well know, but I read your blog posts with pleasure because your style is so engaging.

How wise of Mr. Kauffman to invite you. How lucky we will be to read you.

Posted by: Verna Wilder | Sep 21, 2006 2:36:05 PM