Previous Report 2023 Annual Report

2023 Annual Report
We help entrep​reneurs grow com​panies of signifi​cance.


1,039 startups

connected with community assets.


1.48M capital

mobilized to help early-stage ventures succeed.


361 entrep​reneurs

engaged with business and community customer prospects.

We served over 250 startups from Kansas, as well as connected startups from 22 states and 4 countries to resources and growth opportunities in Kansas.

Our work expands our eco­nomy and builds the innovation momentum and prob­lem-solving muscles needed to tackle challenges as a region." Mary Beth Jarvis, President and CEO, NXTUS

The NXTUS team wrapped up 2023 brimming with gratitude for a year of smart growth and powerful collaboration to accomplish our mission of helping entrepreneurs build companies of significance.

To be alongside so many fantastic partners doing this satisfying and important work with excellence, serving more entrepreneurs than ever, is both humbling and invigorating.

Browse below to see how we worked alongside diverse partners to build a stronger community of innovators, mobilize growth capital, and build bridges from startups to their prospective customers.

Why does this matter? Helping entrepreneurs grow tomorrow’s great businesses not only expands ur economy, it builds the innovation momentum and problem-solving muscles needed to tackle industry and community challenges and thrive as a region. That’s the superpower of great entrepreneurs and the rally cry for expanding what we do.

Entrepreneurs come from all walks of life and every corner of a community. They put it all on the line to build companies and improve their own lives, but that benefits us all. NXTUS works to embolden more of them and support them better to help foster heir growth. We’re an inclusion organization in every sense of the word: we act with intention to reach diverse entrepreneurs and we meet them where they are with customized services and programs.

Our fearless partners and generous donors made all this possible in 2023 and are continuing to propel us to our ‘NEXT US’ as a game-changing organization for entrepreneurs and our region. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts and hope more will join them in supporting entrepreneurs and innovators through us.

Mary Beth Jarvis, President and CEO, NXTUS
”NXTUS helped me think bigger. As an entrepreneur, I came in with this idea that had grown, and NXTUS programs helped me take it to the next level. It was one of the first times my mind was expanded to what 10x-ing my business would look like.”
Audra Dinell
The Thread: A Women's Leadership Collective

Entrepreneurial Spotlight

Based in Wichita, KS, The Thread is a community that provides tools, training and a safe space for female leaders to grow in their lives both personally and professionally.

Audra Dinell, a trailblazing founder in the Wichita entrepreneurial ecosystem, was supported through the NXTSTAGE Enterprise Engagement Series and the NXTSTAGE Customer Traction Cohort. NXTUS continues to empower her growth strategies through mentorship and community support. Not only has Audra created a strong community of up and coming female leaders, The Thread has created jobs and recently launched into the Kansas City market.


NXTUS’ priority is the entrepreneur.
We know each needs three things.

01 Comm

NXTUS strengthens the support systems around growth-minded entrepreneurs and innovators, connecting them with mentors and resources to fuel their success.

Working one on one and through organized programs, we assist founders in connecting with peer support and tapping into mentorship opportunities, all while providing a diverse array of resources tailored to their needs.

We do this work alongside regional partners, such as NetWork Kansas, Create Campaign, Groover Labs, The US Small Business Administration, Wichita State University, and Flagship Kansas among many others. Our efforts are integrated with volunteer-led ecosystem efforts, such as Wichita Startup Week and Startup Grind.

”When we come together as a community to support the entre­preneurs we serve, we drive economic growth. Collab­o­rating with supporters, NXTUS guides entre­preneurs to the resources they require at the right moment, fueling their journey to success.”
Amber Dunn, Program Manager, NXTUS

From NXTUS Partners

“Our partnership with NXTUS allows us to build a strong support network that empowers entrepreneurs. We draw on the academic expertise of our marketing faculty at the Barton School of Business, utilize WSU’s resources, and combine these strengths with the practical insights and experiences provided by NXTUS.”

“Together, we strive to amplify the success stories of local businesses, encourage job creation, and enhance the eco­nomic resilience of our community.”
Alexander H. Ziegler, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Marketing, W. Frank Barton School of Business, Wichita State University

NetWork Kansas

NetWork Kansas is growing an entrepreneurial environment in Kansas by cultivating resources to start and grow small businesses. A catalyst for partnership, NetWork Kansas collaborated with NXTUS in 2023 to expand programs to every corner of the state, involving entrepreneurs from NetWork Kansas E-communities in multiple regions.

“At NXTUS, we roll up our sleeves and unite with collaborators around the state to provide tailored programs that serve the needs of diverse entrepreneurs.”

“We customize support for innovators and ambitious companies, so they can not only survive but flourish in the vibrant landscape of Kansas. This focused technical assistance is vital to the growth of entrepreneurship-led economic development in our state.”

Erik Pedersen, CHAIR, President and Chief Operating Officer, NetWork Kansas

DEI Award

In 2023, NXTUS accepted the Wichita Business Journal’s Diversity & Inclusion Honoree Award.

We aim to empower and support all innovators and entrepreneurs, including women, people of color, rural entrepreneurs, and others historically underserved by startup programs and capital markets. Through our programs, we reach diverse, high-potential founders, providing the support they need to compete and flourish.

Building Community Around Entrepreneurs

One of the early-stage companies connected to community resources by NXTUS in 2023 was Forge Podcast Co. Forge is a full-service podcast production and distribution company that provides expert outsourced podcast production.

Dedicated to the Heartland values of trust and integrity, Forge offers corporate partners a unique and impactful experience for internal or external storytelling. Bryan Steele, founder of Forge Podcast Co., experienced first-hand NXTUS’ dedication to supporting growth-minded entrepreneurs through his participation in two of the four NXTSTAGE programs.

“NXTUS has been so valuable to me by providing resources, training, and a community of like-minded entre­preneurs. Their guidance and support has given me incredible oppor­tunities in my business.”
Bryan Steele, Founder, Forge Podcast Co.

02 Cap

NXTUS mobilizes risk capital in high-growth startups, while educating investors and entrepreneurs about investment opportunities through our capital programs, Accelerate Venture Partners and Accessing Growth Capital Series.

Risk capital is the lifeblood for launching and growing high-impact companies.

We aim to enhance the mobilization of risk capital for entrepreneurs by cultivating and educating a diverse group of capital providers. Through our angel investment syndicate, Accelerate Venture Partners, we offer resources and facilitate interactions to help entrepreneurs fund their businesses.

AVP By the Numbers

64 AVP Members

42 investor members, and 22 observer members

94% of AVP members

chose to engage with and invest in early-stage innovative companies in Wichita and the Heartland region

1.48M capital

in 19 deals, including 9 in Kansas and 4 in Wichita


of mobilized capital going to traditionally underrepresented founders

300+ members and program participants

had the chance during 14 educational sessions to increase their preparation for, and knowledge of, growth capital to support early-stage ventures

400+ opportunities evaluated

25 companies pitched AVP

“AVP opened doors for me to engage with innovative companies, make direct investments to diversify my portfolio, and network with a community of individuals.”
Alex Mariotti, AVP Member

In 2023, the group surpassed $7M+ in capital mobilized since its inception in late 2018.

2023 saw our largest single investment to date around $1 million, which was a follow-on investment in an existing portfolio company to support their continued growth.

Portfolio Highlight

“Through pivotal moments, AVP stood by us, investing in our vision even during challenging times like the pandemic and the loss of our CEO. Their support has been instrumental, not just financially, but also in guiding us through business transitions.”

“Transportant is grateful for AVP's ongoing partnership as we strive for further success.”
Martin Staples, CEO, Transportant
“An organization like AVP brings investing in early-stage companies to a grassroots level in a way that makes a difference.”
Robert Miller, AVP member

Being a part of AVP makes it possible for Kansas investors like Robert to create an impact and make a meaningful difference for entrepreneurs and innovators in the region.

Accelerate Venture Partners

“The partnership between AVP and Hinkle Law has introduced us to AVP’s network, expanding our client base and allowing us to showcase our abilities to a new audience. All of this has given us an opportunity to support a mission that we believe in.”
Melissa Moodie, Hinkle Law, AVP Sponsor

New in 2023

Accessing Growth Capital Series

In 2023, NXTUS partnered with Entrepreneurial Growth Ventures to launch the inaugural Accessing Growth Capital Series.

The program aims to educate early-stage entrepreneurs on how investors will evaluate their business and the mechanics of raising outside capital. Local and regional founders in the community and across Kansas are provided access to capital providers, such as Accelerate Venture Partners or GrowKS, with the goal to teach the cohort what investors search for in startups when considering investment.

2023 AGCS Cohort Graduate

Through her participation in the program, Deborah was able to receive:

  1. Weekly workshops featuring "How to address key risks", fundraising preparation, and more
  2. 1:1 coaching with GrowKS and AVP team members
  3. The opportunity to pitch to regional investors at the end of the program
“The Cohort has helped me expand my market and truly understand the potential that my company has.”
Deborah North, Founder, Yes! Athletics

03 Custo

Through strategic connections with Kansas businesses and communities, NXTUS empowers startups to achieve rapid growth by securing ideal early customers, propelling their business development.

In 2023, our impact on the entrepreneurial landscape continued to evolve. We successfully supported a growing community of entrepreneurs, growing the number of startups we assisted through our NXTSTAGE Startup Programs. Together, we're driving innovation, accelerating growth, and transforming the business landscape in Kansas.

Expanding our horizons, NXTSTAGE pilot competitions made significant strides into rural Kansas, fostering innovation where it's needed most. Simultaneously, our two other programs were instrumental in helping Kansas entrepreneurs break into the world of customer acquisition and enterprise partnerships, helping navigate the complexities of gaining traction with new customers.

NXTSTAGE by the numbers

330 competitors

for NXTSTAGE Startup Programs

113 startups

connected with customer prospects

58 cohort members

across 4 programs

Pilot Compet​itions

NXTSTAGE Pilot Competitions invite innovative startups from across the nation and around the globe, showcasing groundbreaking technologies poised to revolutionize Kansas businesses and communities.

These initiatives transform Kansas into a proving ground for new technologies, working towards the title of 'the Air Capital turned Pilot Capital,' where innovative ideas take flight and shape the future of the region.

92% of pilot competition applicants had minority and/or female founders

88% of the finalists had ethnic minority and/or female founders or co-founders

Comm​unity Health & Vibr​ancy

The NXTSTAGE Community Health & Vibrancy Pilot Competition, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, matched leading startups with Kansas communities looking for innovative solutions to their toughest community health and growth challenges.

After evaluating 131 competitors from 28 states and 11 countries, NXTUS chose 9 promising startups to bring to Kansas. Forward-thinking partners from around the state began work on 6 pilot projects and 22 additional project ideas aimed at increasing access to mental health care, helping people make better food choices, modernizing Type 1 diabetes management, better equipping community health workers, and improving care for new moms and seniors.

Partner Highlight

“Scott City, as a rural western Kansas town of 4,100 people, has access to innovative technologies created by these amazing founders that we would never otherwise even know existed!”

“The work NXTUS does to foster Entrepreneurship is making a difference for Kansas!”
Katie Eisenhour, Executive Director, Scott County Development Committee


2023 Community Health and Vibrancy Pilot Competition Finalists, Dr. Steven Moyo, Dr. Pinkey Patel, Colby Takeda, and Jordan Green were able to connect with pilot partners, collaborate with other founders, and understand how their business can make an impact on Kansas and rural communities.

“It’s been an opportunity for me as well as our company to really learn and get deeper customer discovery — to really find out what the key pain points are for difference organizations that we aim to serve.”
Dr. Steven Moyo, Founder, Welfie

Finan​cial Techno​logy

The Financial Technology Pilot Competition connected Kansas banks with technology solutions to help them thrive in this age of online competition and digital transformation.

From among 111 competitors from 22 states and 12 countries; 7 pilot project winners offering their next-generation solutions to help regional banks, credit unions and financial services businesses improve identity verification, offer new digital tools to customers, link in with their small-business clients’ financial information, and expand lending and services to rural and urban underserved community segments.

Partner Highlight

“INTRUST Bank is proud to continue our relationship with NXTUS and sponsor the NXSTAGE competition. I’ve personally found it rewarding to experience the excitement and drive of the entrepreneurs who participate, and NXTUS keeps taking the competition to new levels each year.”

“This region of the country needs to foster innovation, economic diversity, and opportunity and we’re grateful to have NXTUS leading that charge.”
Steve Castro-Miller, Managing Director, INTRUST Bank

Customer Traction Cohort

Presented by

In 2023, NXTUS introduced a dual cohort model, launching the NXTSTAGE Customer Traction Cohort for its second year.

Serving 21 Kansas companies from both Wichita and surrounding areas as well as a SouthWest Kansas cohort; this hyper-customized accelerator program continues to support Kansas founders with products in the market and scalable businesses, enabling them to concentrate on achieving product-market fit, testing sales strategies, and accelerating revenue growth.

21 early-stage Kansas companies

81% of the participating startups have ethnic minority and/or female founders

Cohort Member Highlight

Through her participation in the Customer Traction Cohort, Jordan was able to receive:

  1. 1:1 mentorship with coaches and NXTUS team members
  2. Share challenges and advice during workshop sessions
  3. The opportunity to make local connections and strategize
“The NXTSTAGE Customer Traction Cohort helped me transform the direction of my business, refine my processes, and maximize our efforts. It has been a breath of fresh air.”
Jordan Walker, Founder, Bondfire Strategy, Wichita, Kansas
“The program provided us information on how to market to our target audience, improve our pricing strategies, and navigate the processes to reach our customer base.”
Rashawnda Wright, Co-Founder, Grad Cap Remix
“There’s a wealth of knowledge to gain from this program from the team at NXTUS and others who are involved”
Ryan Wright, Co-Founder, Grad Cap Remix

Enter​prise Engage​ment Series

In 2023, NXTUS and NetWork Kansas partnered together to bring the NXTSTAGE Enterprise Engagement Series truly statewide. This program aims to bridge the knowledge and access gaps between early-stage companies located around the state of Kansas and established enterprises in the state.

The program drives innovation, accelerates startup growth, and promotes supplier diversity in the region. In year two, 11 Enterprise Partners collaborated successfully with 19 growth-minded cohort members representing NXTUS’ commitment to serving diverse entrepreneurs throughout the state of Kansas.

90% Minority or female founders participating

100 Net Promoter Score 

Cohort Member Highlight

Through his participation in the Enterprise Engagement Series, Jesse Marks, Founder of Nudge Compost, learned the importance of focusing on fundamentals such as using a consultative sales approach when speaking with prospects, participating in supplier profile listings, and customizing his pitch for each of the stakeholders.

“In many cases, these large companies started with entrepreneurs just like us, and they have continued to foster an entrepreneurial atmosphere as they’ve grown. The main takeaway for me was that these businesses often make decisions the same way I might make a decision in my business.”

“Even at this larger scale, it's always going to be important to get the basics right - provide value, solve a pain point, and be a good partner.”
Jesse Marks, Founder, Nudge Compost

Enterprise Partner Highlight

“This is our second year collaborating with the Enterprise Engagement Series. We have continued to experience new connections and relationships and see the incredible innovations that are happening in our state.”

“Witnessing these great innovations by startups that are happening organically in our state, driven by passionate entrepreneurs, has been inspiring. We try to support them however we can.”
Fabián Armendáriz, Operations Division Director for Wichita Public Schools

Enterprise Partners

Special thanks to our 2023 NXTSTAGE Enterprise Engagement Series Sponsors!


President and Chief Operating Officer, NetWork Kansas
President, Entrepreneurial Growth Ventures, a division of NetWork Kansas
Senior Vice President, Envision Inc.
Founder and General Partner, Tenzing Capital
V. Kaye
President and Chief Executive Officer, Kansas Leadership Center
Chairman & CEO, Occidental Management
Vice President of Community Impact, United Way of the Plains
Principal Partner, Messman Group LLC
Associate Vice President, Industry Engagement and Applied Learning, Wichita State University


In 2023, our valued NXTUS partners continue to play a pivotal role in propelling Kansas towards a future marked by growth and prosperity.

They remain dedicated to driving our initiatives, bolstering our support for entrepreneurs, and fortifying the startup ecosystem, all with the aim of enhancing the region's active engagement in the innovation economy.

Leading Supporters & Gold Partners

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
U.S. Economic Development Administration
Fidelity Bank
Intrust Bank
Emprise Bank
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
Greater Wichita Partnership
NetWork Kansas
Grumpy Old Men
Murfin Inc
Foreman Law
Sedgwick County
Gary Oborny
Jeff Turner

Silver Partners

Entrepreneurial Growth Ventures
Hinkle Law
Kent Audio-Visual
LANGE Companies

Bronze Partners

CK Communications
OneSource Technology

Community Partners

Abel Frederic
Berry Companies
City of Wichita
K.U. School of Medicine, Wichita Medical Practice Association
Koch Supplier Strategies
Meritrust Credit Union
Professional Engineering Consultants
Sedgwick County
Spirit Aerosystems
Star Lumber
Technology Group Solutions
U.S.D. 259 Wichita Public Schools
Vintage Bank KS
Wichita Shredding

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