Taking A Risk | KCUR

Taking A Risk

It's estimated there are more than 7,000 immigrant entrepreneurs in the Kansas City metro area. Our series “Taking a Risk” explores the backstory of some of these innovators and the challenges of creating something new.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Growing up in Uzbekistan, everything Bek Abdullayev knew about the United States he'd learned from pop culture and Hollywood movies.

"A lot of high rises, beautiful people," was what he imagined. "Michael Jordan, Madonna, whatever you see in the movies. You know, 'Home Alone,' so a big family home in a nice neighborhood."

As a teenager, Abdullayev got to experience the U.S. first-hand after he earned a spot in a competitive program called the Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX), funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Sometimes, spending time with family can change your life’s direction. That's what happened when one trip to Missouri rooted entrepreneur Faruk Capan, and his business, in the Midwest. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Vi Tran’s journey has taken him from Vietnam to refugee camps in southeast Asia to Garden City, Kansas, and finally to a burger joint in Kansas City, Missouri, where he began telling his story and created a space for others' stories in all types of formats.

Past a row of pinball machines, at the back of the Westport Flea Market Bar & Grill, is a large room with concrete floors, black tablecloths draped over round tables, the smell of burgers and a bare-bones stage.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

The co-working space in south Overland Park where Neelima Parasker has set up shop includes the amenities young, energetic and collaborative workers want: a coffee bar, stadium-like seating with oversized comfy chairs, offices next to windows and a ping-pong table where two 20-somethings are joking around. 

"Right now, this is my office and then my team starts here. The senior staff sits here," says Parasker, president and CEO of SnapIT Solutions. Parasker started the company in May 2016, and moved into this collaborative space in 2017.