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THE PICTURE: Startup Week

December 5, 2021

min read

During the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses across the United States have worked to quickly transform and meet consumers’ changing needs.

Instead of facing the challenge on their own, Wichita entrepreneurs Chris Callen and James Williams collaborated with other local business owners. They recently organized the city’s first Startup Week at Groover Labs to help educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs with the idea of winning together as a community.

Wichita Startup Week

The concept of achieving mutual benefit between companies and customers is at the heart of Koch Industries’ Vision and approach to business. Koch, one of the largest private companies in America, sponsored the inaugural Wichita Startup Week in early October to help share its principles with small businesses aspiring to grow.

Attendees at Wichita Startup Week gained access to 40 free sessions filled with advice and conversations about turning ideas into successful products and services. “I want to see Wichita win. I want people to see they have a future here. I want people to believe they can start a technology company here,” says Williams.

Chris Callen shares the same optimism. “We have a chance to reopen what entrepreneurship means in Wichita.”

Jason Illian, a leader at Koch Disruptive Technologies, spoke to Startup Week participants about the importance of applying a principled approach to business.

Jason Illian

“Entrepreneur is just a fancy name for someone who wants to improve the world with a product or service,” says Illian. He notes that Koch has achieved its growth by creating opportunities to help others succeed and improve their lives. “There could be a thousand other companies in Wichita that do the exact same thing as Koch.”

Madeline Shonka, a presenter in the Wichita Startup Week pitch competition, is applying this technique with her Co-Immunity app to improve communication between chronically ill patients and their doctors.


“This allows doctors and patients to be on the same page, eliminate anxiety and give doctors the ability to make data-driven decisions,” says Shonka.

Understanding what customers value is a key theme of Charles Koch’s book “Good Profit,” which offers a closer look at the concept of Principled Entrepreneurship™.

See more about Wichita Startup Week in this episode of The Picture, A Koch Industries Spotlight Series. All episodes are available to watch at