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Kansas City has been selected as a primary location for ScaleUpU because of its strong culture of entrepreneurship and its support of startup and high-growth companies.  Also based in Kansas City is the world renowned Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, which supports and honors entrepreneur both domestic and international.   

Mary Leonida
Managing Partner
Verne Harnish


As CEO of Polaris Companies/Track Consulting, Mary Leonida manages closely-held corporations with direct ownership in a regional management consulting firm, commercial real estate and start-up ventures.  She previously owned and operated national franchise restaurants, earning awards for leadership and operations.  For over 22 years, Mary has generated business plans, evaluated asset allocation and developed marketing and expansion strategies for core businesses.  Her consulting work specializes in strategic planning, entrepreneurial management & leadership development.  Mary also serves in leadership positions for many non-profit organizations and as a director on various corporate boards.


Mary has served two terms as President of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Kansas City chapter and has been a board member for 12 years.  She currently serves as the Chairman of the US National Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) and is incoming President of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (YEA).


Mary is a graduate of the Wharton School – University of Pennsylvania, earning an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing.

Bob Grant

Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), with over 11,000 members worldwide, and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” held at MIT, a program in which he still teaches today.  Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 180 partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies grow.  Today, over 40,000 organizations, for-profit and non-profit, use his firm’s tools and techniques to scale.


The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for Fortune magazine. Verne is the author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. His latest book Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0) has won seven major international book awards including the prestigious 2015 International Book Award for Best General Business book. 


Verne also chairs, in partnership with Fortune, annual ScaleUp and Growth Summits and is an investor in over a dozen scaleups around the globe. He has his MBA and BS Mechanical Engineering degrees from Wichita State University. 


David Ricketts

 Innovator, Scholar, Harvard Innovation Fellow

For the past decade, Dr. Ricketts, together with his colleagues at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center (TECH) at Harvard, has taught the next generation of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerbergs how to create disruptive innovations. His keynotes share those insights and, through entertaining real world examples, he helps leaders and front line innovators understand how to develop disruptive innovation in their organizations.

Dr. Ricketts has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations, such as General Motors, Disney Research and the U.S. Military. His innovations have been featured in: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News as wells as ESPN, Smithsonian Innovation and Popular Science. With an engaging and down to earth style, David works easily with organizations and individuals on many aspects of business and technology. His driving passion is to understand how individuals create new value—and how to harness that understanding—for increased business growth.

Before joining academia, Dr. Ricketts was a former head of R&D in the semiconductor industry, where he lead front-line innovators in product development and research departments, from initial concept and intellectual property (IP) development through to testing and customer service. His work on identifying and developing high-value products in the corporate environment provides a real-world context for his research into innovation, and his process for discovering high-impact problems.

Seeking to innovate and solve difficult problems, Dr. Ricketts is an award-winning academic researcher. He has held appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and North Carolina State University. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the U.S. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Investigator Award. His work has appeared in the prestigious scientific journal Nature as well as many other leading engineering journals.

Bob Grant has an extensive background in diverse industries and organizations of various sizes. His career spans over 30 years of business experience in the financial, supply chain, marketing/PR and sales disciplines.  Focusing on innovation, Bob has been a change agent who has led teams to achieve outstanding results at firms including Coopers & Lybrand, CertainTeed, Bayer Corporation, The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Rockhurst University. Bob is currently a Partner in ScaleUpU Kansas City.


At Bayer, he was the first head of Supply Chain within the entire global organization and has spoken at national conferences and published articles in national publications on the subject of supply chain management. Throughout his professional career, Bob routinely led efforts to merge acquired companies due to his ability to understand and combine company cultures.  His capability to execute and implement corporate initiatives including complex SAP migration projects have contributed to his successes in the private sector. One of the early adopters of electronic commerce, Bob directed functions in customer service, distribution, advertising and sales analysis.  In addition, Bob augmented his career by forming an international supply chain consulting service company with clients throughout the country.


In his ongoing commitment to the community and while at The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Bob initiated GenKC, a program designed to help millennials integrate into the metropolitan Kansas City business culture. Among his considerable administrative and fundraising accomplishments during his tenure at Rockhurst University, he started the Prosperity Center which focused on breaking the circle of poverty in the community.  


Bob is currently the board president of Menorah Medical Center and has served on the boards of Minority Supplier Council of Greater Kansas City, Greater Kansas City Foreign Trade Zones, Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City (past board president), the Jewish Community Relations Committee/American Jewish Committee and the Menorah Legacy Foundation. He is an Eagle Scout.  


Bob holds a degree from Pennsylvania State University with a major in Accounting and is a trained CPA. He and his wife, Evie, live in Leawood, Kansas, and have two adult daughters.

David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed sales and marketing strategist whose high-energy presentations are a treat for the senses. That he’s spoken on all seven continents and in 40 countries to audiences of the most respected firms, organizations and associations underscores the value he brings to audiences.  


David serves as an advisor to select emerging companies who are working to transform their industries by delivering disruptive products and services. His advisory clients include HubSpot (NYSE: HUBS), where he also serves as Marketer in Residence. He began working with HubSpot in 2007 when the company had a handful of customers and fewer than 10 employees, helping the HubSpot team with rapid sales and marketing strategies that have grown the company to 15,000 customers in 90 countries. His current portfolio of advisory clients also includes Mynd, Expertfile, RISEcx, Set The Set, SlapFive, VisibleGains, Foxtrot Systems, and GutCheck as well as non-profits including the Grateful Dead Archive at University of California Santa Cruz and HeadCount.


In past advisory work, he contributed to successful companies as a member of the board of directors of NewsWatch KK (sale to Yahoo Japan) and Kadient (merged with Sant) and served on the board of advisors of Eloqua (IPO in mid-2012 and sale to Oracle in early 2013) and GrabCAD (sale to Stratasys in mid-2014).


David’s books and blog are must-reads for professionals seeking to generate attention in ways that grow their business. He is author or co-author of ten books - three are international bestsellers. The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now in its 5th edition, has been translated into 27 languages and is a modern business classic with over 350,000 copies sold so far. Scott also authored Real-Time Marketing & PR, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, Newsjacking, and his newest hit The New Rules of Sales & Service. He is co-author of Marketing the Moon (with Rich Jurek) and Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead (with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan).

Contact us

If you're a scaleup in need of support; a local leader wanting to improve the local economy; or have something to contribute to both -- please reach out to us.

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