Leading Entrepreneur to LSEDC: Focus on Existing Resources

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EyeVerify Founder Toby Rush encourages Lee’s Summit leaders to identify density and concentration of existing business assets at March Speaker Series luncheon  

Lee’s Summit, MO—March 10, 2017– Toby Rush, founder of biometric security company EyeVerify Inc., headlined the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council’s March Speaker Series luncheon. Comparing the family farm he grew up on in rural Kansas to the most simple “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Rush shared how raising pigs in grade school and hiring friends to help him throw hay in high school helped lay the groundwork for his future career growing and selling tech companies.

“I didn’t see it as entrepreneurship at the time, but looking back, that’s exactly what it was. Understanding the resources and needs of the market in front of you, amassing those resources to solve a problem and then hoping everyone can make a little money out of that,” Rush said.

Rush founded biometric security company EyeVerify Inc. in 2012 and sold the company in 2016 for a reported $100 million to Ant Financial Group, the financial services arm of AliBaba Group. EyeVerify is headquartered in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District and plans to almost double its headcount from 50 to 90 employees by the end of the year.

Reflecting on the value of trusted mentors along his journey, Rush cited the success of his RFID technology company, Rush Tracking Systems. “We would go into companies like John Deere, Dairy Farmers of America, Smuckers and Chevron, and we kept winning deals. I kept being really surprised, and a trusted mentor said to me, ‘Toby, you’re going to realize you’re growing up when you quit being surprised that you’re winning.”

Rush also encouraged the group of successful and established Lee’s Summit business leaders to not be afraid to dream. “If we want to make a meaningful difference, sometimes we have to take a step back and dream like children. Invite more people into the conversation and not necessarily think about what resources do I have– or what background and collective knowledge do I have to solve this problem? So you can kind of literally become the victim of your own success.”

After his speech, LSEDC Board Member Todd Haynes asked Rush what it would take for EyeVerify to build a new headquarters in Lee’s Summit.

“The reason we are in the Crossroads is because that’s where the (tech and entrepreneurial) community is. Plain and simple, it’s easy for me to connect with lots of other entrepreneurs just by walking across the street or into a nearby business,” Rush said. “What makes the Crossroads successful is the density of entrepreneurs and resources, so I encourage Lee’s Summit to focus on where your resources (industry clusters and workforce) are concentrated.”