LaunchKC to offer $100K grand prize; applications begin in 1 week

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, will begin accepting applications next Wednesday, March 1 for its third annual event – this year featuring a $100,000 grand prize grant.

LaunchKC has awarded $1 million to 20 entrepreneurs – from six states and three nations – via $50,000 grants in its first two years of competition. The 2017 competition will feature another $500,000 grant pool that will be awarded in September to the judges’ selection of the top nine applications – including one $100,000 grand prize grant recipient, along with eight $50,000 grant winners.

The introduction of a $100,000 grant prize was announced by Rachel Merlo, chair of the LaunchKC Steering Committee and community manager of Google Fiber in Kansas City. The announcement came at the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon on Jan. 27 before 1,000 business, civic and community leaders, as well as at a special LaunchKC Kickoff Celebration on Feb. 1 before 150 sponsors, former grant recipients and leaders in the KC tech space.

“The third LaunchKC competition provided us with the opportunity to introduce a grand prize in 2017,” said Drew Solomon, who chairs the competition for LaunchKC. “We believe the $100,000 grand prize will pique interest and applications from tech entrepreneurs throughout the nation.”

Entrepreneurs who enter the LaunchKC grants competition will be seeking one of eight $50,000 grants – of course, with an eye on the $100,000 grand prize grant – in addition to one year of free office space in Downtown KC; industry-specific mentor teams; and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders in Kansas City.

The application window opens at 8 a.m. (CDT) next Wednesday, March 1 and will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 7. The online application will be available on LaunchKC.org.

The application window closes, LaunchKC judges will begin work evaluating and scoring each application. They will work throughout July and August to review and cull the list of applicants until they settle on on 20 finalists by Thursday, Aug. 24.

The finalists will be invited to Techweek Kansas City, where they will pitch their business plans in front of a live panel of judges – along with the Techweek audience – before the final nine grant recipients are selected on Friday, Sept. 15.

For more information, visit LaunchKC.org. And, remember, the application window opens next Wednesday!