William Jewell’s new business incubator is a place for students, entrepreneurs and investors to mingle.

Photography provided by William Jewel College.

More than just a business idea incubator, the new Mathes Innovation Center at Liberty’s William Jewell College aims to help graduate students not just get a job but found a company.

“Our goal with this Innovation Center is to not only teach business to our students but to create an environment where collaboration and innovation allow our students to live business as they learn,” says Mark Mathes. Mark, along with his wife Karen Mathes and son and daughter-in-law Jared and Mary Mathes, all William Jewell College alumni, donated much of the money to create the center and programming.

“There are many great ideas that never come to fruition due to the lack of infrastructure and assistance provided to the entrepreneur,” Jared says.

The Mathes Innovation Center is meant to serve as a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs, innovators, students and community members alike. Individuals can find the tools they need for all things business-related. Programming will include events for both students and the community, offering coaching and networking opportunities. The center will also have rentable co-working spaces, event spaces and long-term options for local business owners to house their enterprises. The full-service center aims to offer support to entrepreneurs through all stages of the investment process in order to foster success. 

Innovation Center donors, Mark, Karen, Mary and Jared Mathes. Photography provided by William Jewel College.

“We believe this approach will make us unique among the innovation centers throughout higher education nationwide,” Mark says.

For students, the Mathes Innovation Center will be more than just another classroom. It’s “an opportunity for students and business founders to test ideas and present them to all investor classes, pivoting from the more traditional investment style,” Jared says.

Conner Hazelrigg, assistant vice president of strategic innovation for the university, says, “As students have ideas, instead of just going through the traditional lines of education in terms of how to start a business, we are actually going to assist the student in doing that.”

Although the Mathes Innovation Center is newly opened, students and community business owners have already taken advantage of the amenities offered through the program. Freshman and entrepreneur Daniel Lynn actually chose to attend William Jewell College because of the Innovation Center. Lynn started his pressure washing business, KC Splash, when he was 15 years old, and it has grown into one of the largest pressure washing companies in the area. 

Lynn, who learned of the new center when he was doing a pressure washing job in high school for Mark, says, “It’s a good place to bounce ideas off and find ways I can actually grow my business.”

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