ESHIP Summit
#home-section hero-section header large-hero-section row-start row-end



JUNE 21 - 23, 2017

Kansas City, Missouri

America's Heartland

#about-section about-section row-start row-mid col-sm-12


How do we empower the makers, the doers, the dreamers of our society? The ESHIP Summit is the Kauffman Foundation’s inaugural convening of leaders fighting to answer that question in their communities.

Our vision. We believe you have the fundamental right to turn your idea into an entrepreneurial reality, regardless of who you are or where you’re from, with zero barriers in the way.

Our mission. We seek to empower entrepreneurs everywhere as agents of progress. We aspire to build a new model of economic development where entrepreneurs are celebrated and accelerated. We aim to pioneer the principles, culture, tools and metrics of successful entrepreneurial communities. In short, we are entrepreneurial ecosystem builders.

Our gathering. This event will be like no other. Participants will work together – hands-on, creatively and boldly – to design their ecosystems using new approaches and best practices. No politics, no pretense, no ordinary presentations. We seek practical results. That means leveling the playing field. That means wider participation in our economy.


Who Should Attend?

  • Who are you? You believe that empowering entrepreneurs is the future of the world. You are a systems thinker. You seek to democratize opportunity. You fight to help others realize their potential. You connect people. You give before you get. You trust first. You create community and a culture of collaboration.
  • What drives you? Ecosystem builders share a passion and track record for driving long-term community change by supporting innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • What are you called? Few job titles fit perfectly. You might be an entrepreneur, investor or civic leader. Or you might run a coworking space, accelerator, government agency, university center, professional firm or media channel. You are often an unsung hero. You are a community builder.

Why Should I Attend?

  • Meet your tribe. We are creating a professional class of ecosystem builders to transform communities and reinvent economic development. You will be connected to a tribe that you didn’t know existed.
  • Discover fresh ideas. We will create and share lessons to build ecosystems, with attendees participating from all 50 states. We will collaboratively define, validate and professionalize new tools for doing our work better.
  • Create real action. After two-and-a-half days, you will craft a tangible action plan to bring back to your community. You will be able to apply practical solutions as soon as you return home.

parallax-section row-start row-end col-sm-12
#agenda-section agenda-section row-start row-end col-sm-12

The Plan at a Glance

Expect two-and-a-half days of diversity, collisions, collaboration, serendipity, openness, support, authenticity and a fair amount of play to keep our creativity at a fever pitch.

Wed, June 21 - Get To Know The City

  • Pre-conference Tours (1:30pm-3:30pm): See the local ecosystem in motion. Optional pre-conference tours of the Kansas City Ecosystem, including the nation's first Google Fiber neighborhood, The Kansas City Startup Village, Sprint, Techstars and more...
  • Evening (6pm-evening): The Summit kicks-off with a good ol’ KC BBQ & Rooftop Party! Mix and mingle and meet the small teams you’ll work with all week. We'll provide local eats and drinks, along with games of content and context—all with a stunning skyline view.

Thurs, June 22 – The Collaboration Begins

  • Morning: Warm up with a group run, yoga in the park or a cup of coffee, ending with a healthy breakfast.
  • Daytime (9am-5pm): Get ready for a different kind of gathering, co-created together as we go. We’re convening the top ecosystem builders from across the U.S. and beyond: grassroots entrepreneurial leaders, mayors, venture capitalists, economic developers, journalists, researchers and 35+ partners who serve ecosystem builders worldwide. We’ll invite you to connect and create as a community, but you won’t see panels and Powerpoint presentations on the agenda. We’ll spend the day working face-to-face to discover emerging models of ecosystem building, sketch a collective vision for our efforts and test our assumptions through iterative design.
  • Evening (6pm-evening): Hit the streets and explore the Crossroads—Kansas City’s urban art community. Alongside your fellow conference attendees you’ll navigate through the rich creative and entrepreneurial culture of KC through its galleries, music, food trucks, public spaces and restaurants.

Fri, June 23 – Diving Deep Into Tactics and Tools

  • Morning: Synthesize and recap our day one learnings and gain a new perspective from our morning plenary keynote speakers, whom you’ll be excited to meet!
  • Daytime (9am-4pm): We’ll build on day one, share what you’re working on and dig in to develop new tactics and tools that you can take home with you. To support that work you'll:
    • Create the conversation you want to have, and dig into the complex issues that we face in building ecosystems—from culture to capital, accelerators to mentor programs. Share your successes and challenges, get feedback, swarm solutions, and ship draft deliverables to share with your emerging ESHIP community!
    • Engage with the latest research on ecosystem building and deep dive into new tools for measuring ecosystem success.
    • We’ll wrap the main program for the day at 4pm, with a little bonus evening experience, for those who can stick around for an extra night.
  • Evening (6pm-evening): We hope you’ll stay around for some baseball with the World Champion KC Royals (Ok, maybe 2015 champs, but still champs) vs the Toronto Blue Jays at one of Kansas City’s biggest celebrations of entrepreneurship: a celebrity-studded, “E-Day at The K.” We’ve got free tickets for and a pre-game tailgate to warm you up for the big game.
parallax-section row-start row-end col-sm-12
#register-section register-section row-start col-sm-12


Thank you for your interest in the inaugural ESHIP Summit! We have been thrilled by the response to the call for attendees. The event has sold out and registration is now closed.

We will be sharing stories and the outcomes of the ESHIP Summit on We look forward to collaborating with you as we engage doers and thinkers, from across disciplines, to pioneer ways we can collectively foster more robust ecosystems to support entrepreneurs and innovators everywhere.

parallax-section row-start row-end col-sm-12
#partners-section partners-section row-start col-sm-12


The ESHIP Summit is being co-created in collaboration with the partners below. If your organization directly supports entrepreneurial ecosystem builders and wants more information on our partnership program, please contact us.

parallax-section row-start row-end col-sm-12
#kansascity-section kansascity-section row-start row-end col-sm-12

Why Kansas City?

Historically known for jazz and BBQ, Kansas City—like many of the communities represented at the ESHIP Summit—is reimagining what it can be. Major growth in the entrepreneurial ecosystem has been catalyzed by the Big 5 Initiative, coupled with the work of countless organizations and a mayor who boldly aims to make the community “America’s Most Entrepreneurial City.”

Signs of progress are everywhere. Drawing on the heritage of homegrown companies like Sprint, Garmin and Cerner, Kansas City recently saw one of the largest increases in tech startup density of any U.S. metro. Entrepreneur support organizations and programs like 1 Million Cups, the Angel Capital Association, FastTrac, Pipeline, U.S. Sourcelink and the Kauffman Foundation all call Kansas City home. Growth in new companies is being fueled by more than $1 billion invested in downtown over the last five years, 200+ entrepreneur support organizations and one of the nation’s lowest costs of living.
People are flocking to the region. KC was chosen as the first Google Fiber City in 2011. Techstars set up shop in 2014. Brad Feld, Steve Case and Softbank have made local investments. One can see signals of the future in the city’s brand new streetcar system, an ambitious Smart Cities initiative and the world’s greenest residential development, currently rising on the historic banks of the Missouri River.

The Creative Crossroads of America

Electric team. Stunning Venue.

Historic 18th and Vine and all that Jazz

(All photos and video courtesy of Visit KC)


Reserve Your Room for the 2017 Summit

Make sure to reserve your room for the 2017 ESHIP Summit by May 31! We have secured a block of rooms at an amazing price ($145/night+tax) at either the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center or The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center. 

Transportation to the Event

We will be providing more details via email as the event date approaches.

It is approximately 25 miles from Kansas City (MCI) Airport to Crown Center.
Choose UBER or from multiple ground transportation options found here.

To learn more about Kansas City or for additional travel information please click here.

#FAQ-section FAQ-section row-start row-end col-sm-12


Q: When and where is the ESHIP Summit being held?
A: The ESHIP Summit is June 21-23, 2017, at the Sheraton and Westin hotels at Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Q: Who should attend the ESHIP Summit?
A: See the ‘Who Should Attend’ section of the website.

Q: What will we be doing?
A: This event will not be a typical conference. There won’t be an endless lineup of speakers, but instead, participants will work together – hands-on, creatively and boldly – to design their ecosystems, share their work and connect with like-minded practitioners. No politics, no pretense, no ordinary presentations. We seek practical results. Check out the ESHIP Summit agenda here, and check back often as new content is added.

Q: What is the cost of ESHIP Summit registration?
A: $199. There will be limited scholarship funds available for those who may find the cost of registration and travel prohibitive to attending.

Q: How do I apply for a scholarship?
A: We know many emerging ecosystem builders have challenges to find ways to fund your work. We do not want the Summit registration fee and travel expenses to be a barrier for your participation. We are offering scholarships to cover the registration, and for some, travel and accommodations.
Please send us a note to receive more information on scholarships.

Q: How do I register?
A: We are extending personal invitations to attend the ESHIP Summit via email. If you received a formal email invitation, please register with the email address you received the invitation. If you have any questions about your registration, please email Kathryn Widrig.

Q: I did not receive an invitation. Can I still attend the ESHIP Summit?
A: This is an invitation-only event, but we also know we don’t know everyone who should attend. If you did not receive an email invitation, but are interested in attending, tell us your story.

Q: Can someone else from my organization attend?
A: With limited space, and to ensure diversity in attendees, we are kindly asking a maximum of two representatives to join us from any one organization. In future years, we hope to open this event to a larger audience. If you'd like to send someone in your place, please send us a note. If you'd like to bring an additional colleague from your organization please have them share his/her story with us.

Q: I know someone else who should be invited to this event; can I make a suggestion?
A: Yes. Please send people who might be interested this form and encourage them to share their story with us.

Q: What do I do once I have registered?
A: Once you have registered, please make your travel plans and be on the lookout for an email with more information about the event. We have arranged a block of rooms at the Westin and the Sheraton hotels at a discounted $145/night for ESHIP Summit attendees. These rooms are limited, so book today. More information regarding accommodations can be found here.

Q: What else will I have to pay for?
A: Accommodations and transportation costs are the responsibility of each attendee. However, once you arrive at the ESHIP Summit, all meals will be covered and activities will be within walking distance or accessible via public transportation.

Q: What is the refund policy?
A: We understand plans may change, but to receive a refund of your registration fee, you must cancel before June 1. If you have received a scholarship and can’t attend, we would appreciate notice before May 22 so that we can reallocate the scholarship to another person on the waiting list.

Q: I am having trouble registering or have additional questions. What should I do?
A: Please send an email to Kathryn Widrig.