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UMKC Innovation Center
By Sarah Mote
August 13, 2015

Keep Your Focus on the Road Ahead

Springfield, MO Entrepreneur

Rachel Hankerson’s first entrepreneurial idea came in 1994 as a 20-year-old undergrad testing maximum speed limits.

Even though she had insurance, the proper documentation was not in her car in Springfield, MO, but in her parent’s care in St. Louis. As a result, she racked up several speeding tickets, aggravated by her lack of insurance proof.

Adversity met invention: ​Rachel came up with the idea for a computerized license plate that proved coverage and registration, but didn’t know how make her idea a reality.

Fast forward to 2008 when she was laid off from her job. Trained in computer information systems, Rachel applied for any job she could find, but faced hundreds of desperate applicants with more experience than her. After a year of few job opportunities and dwindling finances, Rachel resurrected her PROOF smart tags idea.

Rachel HankersonIn early 2010, Rachel contacted Jim Brasunas of ITEN and the Skandalaris Center. She entered the St. Louis University Entrepreneurial Program with Dr. Jerome Katz and became involved with Prosper Women and Accelerate St. Louis. Needing capital to fund her project and prototype, Rachel applied for the Billiken Angel fund but was declined.

Her big break came when the California Department of Motor Vehicles invited her to present her concept. All had been going well, but her team lacked the funding to create the needed prototype and all existing files were deleted.

“What was a very exciting opportunity quickly turned into our worst moment,” says Rachel. Despite these obstacles, Rachel still presented her PROOF tag concept but lost the opportunity.

“Lots of tears were shed, but the continued interest keeps us going. We need capital to make it happen, and we will keep working toward that goal.”

As Rachel continues her dream, she advises others to persevere.

“Believe in yourself and your product. Network with the right people and be willing to take a risk.”

Ready to Get Something Started?

MOSourceLink has a network of more than 400 Resource Partners--nonprofit organizations ready to help you start, grow and scale your business. Start with our Resource Navigator to find help near you. Still stumped? Give us a call and we'll connect you with the right resource, right now. 

Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.





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