Employees of Local Fintech C2FO Discuss what Drew them to the Area
C2FO, a Kansas City financial technology company founded in 2008 by local entrepreneur Sandy Kemper, is breaking industry barriers. In 2013, after a mere five years in business – providing services that no company had provided before – this pioneer in the working capital market posted its first $1 billion quarter. C2FO continued that trajectory, reaching another milestone in September 2015 – transacting $1 billion in working capital per week on its platform. Today, C2FO is on a mission to free up $43 trillion in working capital and put it to work for businesses that need it most, many of whom may otherwise not be in existence without this capital influx. It’s a lofty goal but one that Kemper and his team of sophisticated finance technology professionals have proven they’re capable of.
C2FO company headquarters are located in Leawood, KS. The halls are filled with casually-dressed employees on any given day, but a quick survey reveals that many are not native to the Kansas
City area, having moved here to accept a position at C2FO. These employees, coming from cities like Chicago, Boston, and Brooklyn, NY, have found that Kansas City is far beyond the cowtown that many people still assume it is. Instead, it’s full of amenities and opportunities that make living here a better experience than the city from which they came.
Elizabeth Duty, Vice President of Partner Business Development, has been in Kansas City for three weeks, having moved recently from Brooklyn, NY. She’s been with C2FO for two years but moved here to further her career with the company. She’s still finding her way around but says it’s nice to have a car. “I was at Target this past weekend, and I can’t tell you how excited I was to think that I could just roll my cart out to my car, and put it all in my car, and then drive home and drop all my belongings at my door. That really made me smile.”
Duty lives in Prairie Village, where she has a house, a backyard, and a dog – none of which she had in Brooklyn. “I’ve moved a lot in my life…I like to explore new places, so it’s a win-win.”
Anne Steinhaus of Fairway, KS, has lived in the Kansas City area for three years. She moved here from Boston to take a position as Director of Product Management at C2FO. Steinhaus grew up in Massachusetts but says that once her daughter came along, Boston started to feel cramped. She and her husband craved more space, so when the position at C2FO presented itself, Steinhaus was willing to consider it. She noticed right away the difference in the cost of living. “What really convinced me to move here was looking at houses and seeing how much we could actually get for our money versus Boston,” she says.
While the moderate cost of living in Kansas City is a plus, it’s not the only draw to the area. Employment opportunity is also a factor. Employees moving into the area – especially at more advanced levels – are often uprooting their family for a specific employment opportunity. It’s important to know they have other options if that first position doesn’t work out. According to Sandy Kemper, recruiting for high-level positions at C2FO was more difficult five years ago because there weren’t a lot of other companies in the area that were similar to C2FO. That’s changing with the growth of so many fastgrowing start-ups in the area.
Tyler Kimmons, Director of Investments at C2FO, knows this first-hand. He and his wife moved here two years from downtown Chicago. Kimmons was working for another company at the time. He says that when they first made the move, he was a little concerned that if things didn’t work out, he wouldn’t have any other options. He was immediately impressed with the high-level talent of the team at C2FO. Says Kimmons, “Coming from Chicago, that was actually one of the things I was kind of concerned about…I’d look for jobs in Chicago and hundreds, thousands would pop up – in the finance industry, specifically. I was surprised – in a good way – about how talented a group they had put together in Kansas City.”
Kemper believes that the entrepreneurial environment in Kansas City is on the verge of a tipping point. “The sheer number of entrepreneurs that are taking risks in Kansas City greatly exceeds those that were 10 or 15 years ago,” he comments. It’s no longer uncommon for him to run into – and recognize – other business owners when he’s out in public. This provides an opportunity to strengthen the entrepreneurial network within the region.
Local resources also strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Organizations like the Kauffman Foundation, the Enterprise Center in Johnson County (ECJC), and KCSourceLink work to break
down barriers to entrepreneurship and provide the necessary education, funding, and support to those who are willing to take a chance on starting a business. Says Kemper, “You see a tremendous number of people taking risk in Kansas City and creating value. Risk and reward cause more people to think, ‘I can do the same thing.’ Role models are super-important.”
This strong entrepreneurial environment is good for Kansas City’s talent pool. Local companies are now able to attract and retain top talent more easily than ever before. At C2FO, Kemper says he doesn’t experience nearly the employee turnover his peers do on the East and West Coasts. While his peers consider it a success if they retain an employee for 18 months, Kemper says he can count on two hands the number of key associates who’ve left the company since it started 11 years ago.
Sandy Kemper could have started C2FO anywhere in the country. When asked why he chose Kansas City as the company headquarters rather than taking it to a financial hub such as New York City or Chicago, Kemper sums it up: “Kansas City is a great place to build a business. We have extraordinary human capital, stable and loyal teams accompanied by fantastic work ethic and unusually strong moral compasses. Plus, I live here. My network is here, and the few friends I do have are all here.”
It sounds like he wouldn’t have it any other way.