Kansas City Ecosystem Builder Dan Smith

March 15, 2020 | By

Megan North Shuford

This interview is part of the “Ecosystem Builders” series. More information about the ESHIP Communities program can be found here.

Photo of Dan SmithQ: What is your deeper “why” behind your commitment and work to support inclusive entrepreneurship in Kansas City? 

A: My why stems from my upbringing. My family and community invested so much into me, I have always felt the need to repay the investment. Entrepreneurship is the means to serve my why. Seeing people who look like me have the drive to create positive change within themselves and their community drives my passion to create opportunities and canvases for them to thrive.

Q: What is a challenge you’ve faced in your life that has led you to this work? 

A: The lack of access and support for projects I’ve started in the past gave me reason to bust down barriers and provide quality support to the folks I serve.


Q: What is the choice that you’ve made or action that you’ve taken that came out of that challenge related to this work? 

A: We created the Porter House KC to address those barriers specifically.

"We have been blessed with the opportunity to connect/work with so many builders, doers, and makers in the ecosystem, we have definitely benefited from the network..."

Dan Smith, Ecosystem Builder
Q: What is the change you are seeing or hope to see as a result of your choice or action?

A: The urban community rallying around community-built small businesses, growth in urban economic development, and jobs and skills gains in the urban communities.


Q: What advice would you give for someone who is wanting to help build greater equity in the entrepreneurial ecosystem/community here in Kansas City?

A: Be strong, open, tenacious, curious, and consistent.


Q: Do you have an example of how you or someone you’ve worked with has benefited from ecosystem building?

A: The benefits of ecosystem building are not always prevalent, for individual organizations, rather the collective benefit from networking, pass-through opportunities, collective growth efforts, and so many more endeavors that create a positive trajectory for the ecosystem. We have been blessed with the opportunity to connect/work with so many builders, doers, and makers in the ecosystem, we have definitely benefited from the network.


Q: What do you consider to be your life’s work?

A: I’m not sure if I am at a point where my “life’s work” has been defined yet. It’s always a progression, but to this point, and maybe my future “life’s work” claim will be my children.


Q: What are you most proud of that’s come from the entrepreneurial community work in Kansas City that you’ve been a part of? How has that impacted the community?

A: For the last few years we have been working diligently to develop our platform, and we are excited about our progress to this point. Charon Thompson, Coley Williams, Ron Farmer and I are still working. We are still building what we set out to do, so I’d say check back with us in 12 months, short term, and 5 years longer term to see what impact we’ve made in the community.


Q: What is your ultimate goal or vision for this work?

A: To impact the family that has the hustle mentality. To help people see that their talents and passions can be turned into economic drivers for the community they live in. Jobs can be created, livelihoods can be maintained and grown. Our goal is to help create an economic ecosystem for the underserved populations we serve and create sustainability leading to a better way of life.


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Get in touch with Dan and the Porter House KC here