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P.Y.S.K. – Quinten Messbarger

Quinten Messbarger

President & CEO at Missouri Innovation Center, Inc. (MIC)

Job description: I manage MIC, a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization, to maximize our ability to nurture entrepreneurs as they create high-growth ventures in mid-Missouri that improve lives and grow the economy. We provide business incubation services as well as operate and manage the MU Life Science Business Incubator.

Professional background: Before my work at MIC, I worked for larger corporations including PepsiCo, UPS, and Florsheim Shoe. When I left that world twenty-nine years ago, I wanted to pursue entrepreneurial ventures and started by working for a company that was a resident client of the Missouri Innovation Center. As I ended my time with that company, I was asked to join MIC and have not looked back. While I have always worn many hats, my focus has been entrepreneurial finance. I work with clients who seek funding primarily through SBIR/STTR grants, angel capital, and venture capital. 

Hometown: Tarkio, MO

Years lived in Columbia: 40

Favorite volunteer/community activity: Things that support our youth. It was Boy Scouts when my son was younger. Currently, I work with Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences through CPS.

Favorite recent project: Reuniting the Coaches Cohort group that was started by Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI). This group consists of mid-Missouri businesses and entrepreneurship mentors/coaches.

Quote you live by: “We teach people how we want to be treated.”

A Columbia business person you admire and why: Gene Gerke. I have known Gene for almost thirty years and, in that time, Gene has always been the kind of person I aspire to be. Gene is a successful, accomplished businessperson. He is a consensus-builder, arbitrator, organizer, supporter, giver, and doer. 

Why you are passionate about your job: I get to help people. And those people are making a difference, making our world a better place. In doing my work, I am challenged and get to learn new things every single day.

Why you are passionate about your company: In my twenty-nine years with the Missouri Innovation Center, we have been led by an amazing group of board members from our community and university. There has never been a time when we have compromised our integrity or not done what was in the best interests of our entrepreneurial clients. This organization does great work for the right reasons.

If you weren’t doing this for a living, you would: I wish I could say that I would be a professional golfer, but I am certain that no amount of practice is going to get me there.

What people should know about your profession: Business incubator managers are among the most sharing and giving groups of individuals I have ever met. We all realize that “knowledge is power and power is never diminished by sharing it — it is only increased.” We are guides, facilitators, connectors, sounding boards, and resources; it’s the entrepreneurs who run their companies and make the hard decisions.

Your next professional goal: To never again hear someone say, “Oh, MIC is the best-kept secret in Columbia!”

Biggest lesson learned in business: There is a great deal of money to be made by solving people’s problems. If you really love what you do for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life. Spend your time searching for the intersection of those two things.

Greatest strength: I genuinely care about helping others succeed.

Greatest weakness: I am very direct and simply call things the way I see them.

What you do for fun: I love to travel and experience new places. I enjoy riding my motorcycle with various groups, and I rarely pass up the opportunity to play golf.

Family: I am so fortunate to still have a very close-knit family. My son and daughter, who remain best friends, are enjoying their careers, even though they are both one or more states away. 

Favorite place in Columbia: If I’m headed outdoors, it would likely be Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. If I’m grabbing a beer or lunch, it would be Flat Branch Pub & Brewing.

Accomplishment you are most proud of: Setting an example for my high school children by completing my MBA degree shortly before turning 51, without missing a beat at work or home.

Most people don’t know that you: I’ve been chasing tornadoes since high school and relax by playing my Native American flute, especially outside when it’s raining.

Quinten Messbarger, President & CEO at Missouri Innovation Center
Quinten Messbarger, President & CEO at Missouri Innovation Center

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