NASA leader to deliver keynote at LaunchKC Pitch Day

Kira Blackwell, NASA.

An executive from the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) will “launch” the annual LaunchKC Pitch Day with an opening keynote address on Friday, Oct. 12 at Union Station.

Kira Blackwell, Program Executive, Office of the Chief Technologist, NASA will speak to the audience at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 12, immediately before the start of the LaunchKC Pitch Day in the Extreme Screen Theatre at Union Station.

Blackwell will share insights into NASA iTech, a year-long effort to find innovative ideas that address challenges and fill gaps in five critical areas identified by NASA as having a potential impact on future exploration, including big data and data mining; artificial intelligence and autonomous robotic capabilities; revolutionary concepts for communications; medical breakthrough; and x-factor innovations.

The NASA-inspired keynote falls on the fifth and final day of the Techweek Kansas City conference. Friday is primarily focused on LaunchKC, the fourth annual grants competition for tech startups that has been a part of the Techweek KC experience, since its first local conference in 2015.

“We are delighted to welcome Kira Blackwell and NASA to ‘launch’ the Pitch Day events,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president of business and job development for the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, and competition chair for LaunchKC.

The LaunchKC Pitch Day marks the final day of the annual grants competition. Beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 12 the 20 LaunchKC finalists will make their  business plan presentations to a panel of LaunchKC judges AND the Techweek Kansas City audience. Solomon said Blackwell has agreed to join the panel of judges.

“NASA iTech and LaunchKC are cut from the same innovative cloth – both are showcases for entrepreneurs who are looking to change the trajectory of the world through their innovative thinking and business plans,” Solomon said.

NASA iTech is a program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and works in collaboration with The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) in support of the Agency’s Mission. This collaborative effort identifies and fosters innovative solutions that aim to solve challenges on Earth and also have the potential to solve some of NASA’s challenges agency-wide.

LaunchKC is a national grants competition designed to attract tech entrepreneurs to compete for non-dilutive grants and the opportunity to build their new and emerging tech businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.

“LaunchKC has attracted more than 2,100 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our four years of competitions,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “When we award the next round of grants on Oct. 12, we will reach the $2 million mark in awards.”

LaunchKC announced its list of 20 finalists on Tuesday of this week. Judges worked for six weeks to narrow the field from 586 applicants to the final 20, who will compete on the big stage at Union Station on Oct. 12.

The finalists for the LaunchKC grants competition include:

  •  AgVoice – Atlanta, Ga. – Ag Tech
  • Bluepoint2 – Leawood, Kan. – Health Tech
  • Boddle Learning – Kansas City, Mo. – Ed Tech
  • Bungii – Overland Park, Kan. – Mobile Technology
  • Case Helper – Kansas City, Mo. – Cloud Services
  • Digs – Chicago, Ill. – Fin Tech
  • Erkios Systems – Kansas City, Mo. – Network Security
  • Just Play Sports Solutions – Lawrence, Kan. – Cloud Services
  • Listing, LLC – Kansas City, Mo. – Real Estate Tech
  • MindSport – Overland Park, Kan. – Health Tech
  • Motega Health – Lawrence, Kan. – Health Tech
  • OpenCities – Kansas City, Mo. – Cloud Services
  • PlaBook – Kansas City, Mo. – Ed Tech
  • Project Ray – Yokneam, Israel – Mobile Technology
  • Realquantum – Overland Park, Kan. – Fin Tech
  • Ripe.io – San Francisco, Calif. – Ag Tech
  • SaRA Health – Kansas City, Mo. – Health Tech
  • SmartBridge – Bethesda, Md. – Health Tech
  • Strayos – St. Louis, Mo. – Data Analytics
  • Venture360 – Lee’s Summit, Mo. – Fin Tech

The LaunchKC / Techweek Kansas City schedule on Friday, Oct. 12 in the Extreme Screen Theatre at Union Station will look like this:

  • 9 a.m. Keynote address by Kira Blackwell, NASA
  • 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. LaunchKC Pitch Day of all 20 competition finalists
  • 12:30-2:30 p.m. Judges meet in private to score presentations and decide who will receive grant money
  • 3:00 p.m. LaunchKC to announce winners of 2018 grant competition

Tickets to the LaunchKC Pitch Day – including Blackwell’s keynote address – are part of the Techweek Kansas City ticket package. Techweek will run Oct. 8-12 at Union Station.

LaunchKC is fueled each year by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners. For 2018, the sponsor honor roll includes:

 Supporters

Missouri Technology Corporation; the City of Kansas City, Missouri

Visionaries

Husch Blackwell; Kansas City Power & Light District / The Cordish Companies; Downtown Council of Kansas City; Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City; KCP&L; William T. Kemper Foundation; Lead Bank; Missouri Department of Economic Development

Contributing

Dunn Family Foundation; Google Fiber; Lathrop Gage, Polsinelli; Spring Venture Group

Emerging

Adknowledge; American Century Investments; Balance Point; ITEN; LightEdge Solutions; Metropolitan Community College, Parson & Associates, RubinBrown

Supporters

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships; and the UMKC Bloch School of Business.

 

For more information, contact Mike Hurd at mike@downtownkc.org or visit www.launchkc.org and www.techweek.com.

LaunchKC announces 20 finalists for 2018 grants competition

Grant winners from the 2017 LaunchKC competition celebrated their selections at the close of the LaunchKC Pitch Day last September. This year’s competition marks the fourth annual entrepreneurial showdown in Downtown KC.

LaunchKC today revealed 20 finalists for its fourth annual grants competition for tech entrepreneurs.

LaunchKC attracts hundreds of tech entrepreneurs each year – including a 32 percent increase and a near-record 586 applicants this year – to compete for cash grants and an opportunity to build and grow their new businesses in Kansas City.

The 20 entrepreneurs will be in Kansas City in five weeks to compete for non-dilutive grants on Friday, Oct. 12, during LaunchKC Pitch Day on the final day of the Techweek Kansas City conference at Union Station.

This year’s finalists include 12 from the Kansas City metropolitan area; another seven from six different U.S. states; and one international business from Israel.

“It was a robust year for applications and strong applicants,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president of business and job development for the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, and competition chair for LaunchKC. “We put our panel of judges to the test as they thoroughly evaluated each application over the last five weeks.”

LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the Economic Development Corporation.

LaunchKC is a national grants competition designed to attract tech entrepreneurs to compete for non-dilutive grants and the opportunity to build their new and emerging tech businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.

“LaunchKC has attracted more than 2,100 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our four years of competitions,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “When we award the next round of grants on Oct. 12, we will reach the $2 million mark in awards.”

Today’s announcement marks the culmination of weeks of application reviews and scoring by a panel of more than 35 business and financial leaders, who volunteered their time to thoughtfully narrow the field from 586 applicants to the 20 finalists announced today.

The finalists (listed alphabetically by company name, current location and business type) for the LaunchKC grants competition include:

  • AgVoice – Atlanta, Ga. – Ag Tech
  • Bluepoint2 – Leawood, Kan. – Health Tech
  • Boddle Learning – Kansas City, Mo. – Ed Tech
  • Bungii – Overland Park, Kan. – Mobile Technology
  • Case Helper – Kansas City, Mo. – Cloud Services
  • Digs – Chicago, Ill. – Fin Tech
  • Erkios Systems – Kansas City, Mo. – Network Security
  • Just Play Sports Solutions – Lawrence, Kan. – Cloud Services
  • Listing, LLC – Kansas City, Mo. – Real Estate Tech
  • MindSport – Overland Park, Kan. – Health Tech
  • Motega Health – Lawrence, Kan. – Health Tech
  • OpenCities – Kansas City, Mo. – Cloud Services
  • PlaBook – Kansas City, Mo. – Ed Tech
  • Project Ray – Yokneam, Israel – Mobile Technology
  • Realquantum – Overland Park, Kan. – Fin Tech
  • Ripe.io – San Francisco, Calif. – Ag Tech
  • SaRA Health – Kansas City, Mo. – Health Tech
  • SmartBridge – Bethesda, Md. – Health Tech
  • Strayos – St. Louis, Mo. – Data Analytics
  • Venture360 – Lee’s Summit, Mo. – Fin Tech

In addition to cash grants, finalists are competing for a network of business startup support, including industry-specific mentor teams for each grant recipient and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders in and around Kansas City – all designed to elevate their efforts to build high-growth, tech sector businesses and jobs in Downtown Kansas City.

“LaunchKC is built to be an economic game-changer in Kansas City by supporting start-up businesses, creating jobs, attracting talent, unlocking value and engaging follow-on investors,” Hurd said.

LaunchKC is a civic engine in the Kansas City tech startup space. It is committed to elevating KC into one of the nation’s top 10 most livable, viable cities for entrepreneurs to be successful and to celebrate the community’s assets.

“We are continually searching for the best and brightest startups or early stage tech businesses,” Solomon said. “We want to help these entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true in Kansas City.

LaunchKC is fueled each year by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners. For 2018, the sponsor honor roll includes:

Supporters

Missouri Technology Corporation; the City of Kansas City, Missouri

Visionaries

Husch Blackwell; Kansas City Power & Light District / The Cordish Companies; Downtown Council of Kansas City; Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City; KCP&L; William T. Kemper Foundation; Lead Bank; Missouri Department of Economic Development

Contributing

Dunn Family Foundation; Google Fiber; Lathrop Gage, Polsinelli; Spring Venture Group

Emerging

Adknowledge; American Century Investments; Balance Point; ITEN; LightEdge Solutions; Metropolitan Community College, Parson & Associates, RubinBrown

Friends

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships; and the UMKC Bloch School of Business.

LaunchKC nets 32% gain in tech startup applications

Heather Spalding, CEO of Cambrian Tech, celebrates after learning that her startup company won the $100,000 grand prize at the 2017 LaunchKC competition. LaunchKC will award its next set of grants during its annual Pitch Day on Oct. 12 at Union Station.

LaunchKC is off to the races toward its fourth annual, national grants competition for tech entrepreneurs.

LaunchKC attracts hundreds of tech entrepreneurs each year – including a 32 percent increase and a near-record 586 applicants this year – to compete for up to $500,000 in grants and an opportunity to build and grow their new businesses in Kansas City.

“LaunchKC is an economic game-changer in Kansas City through its support of start-up businesses,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James, on of LaunchKC earliest champions. “It creates job, attracts talent, unlocks value and engages follow-on investors.”

In its first three competitions, LaunchKC awarded $1.5 million to 29 entrepreneurs. Another $500,000 is on the line this year, thanks to funding partners like the Missouri Technology Corporation and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.

“More than 1,100 entrepreneurs from around the world applied for grants in those first three competitions,” said Drew Solomon, the senior vice president at the Economic Development Corporation who chairs the grants competition. “The winners have parlayed their grants into 118 full-time jobs with an annual payroll of $7 million, while attracting more than $35 million in cumulative investment, as of year-end 2017.”

Solomon said LaunchKC’s team of expert, volunteer judges are currently assessing the 586 applications for the 2018. Panels of volunteer judges are reviewing all applications – multiple times – and winnowing down the number of contenders during the course of this month. LaunchKC expects to announce the field of 20 finalists in two weeks, or by Aug. 28.

Those 20 will advance to the final round of competition at the Techweek Kansas City conference, Oct. 8-12. The annual LaunchKC Pitch Day and awards ceremony is set for Friday, Oct. 12 at Union Station.

“The LaunchKC competition is proving to be a leading edge platform for attracting and developing the best and brightest tech entrepreneurs,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for the Downtown Council of Kansas City and LaunchKC. “The proof lies in the performance of each grant recipient, which is tracked quarterly by LaunchKC.”

As of year-end 2017 (following two years of experience with the first LaunchKC class, one year for class two, and one quarter for class three), the following performance metrics were reported:

  • Entrepreneurs: 26. ROI is growing, even though 3 of 29 grantees have exited.
  • Full-time employees: 118, up from 18, as of year-end 2015
  • Annual payroll: total $7 million, up from $800,000, as of year-end 2015
  • Cumulative investment: $35.4 million, up from $2 million at end of 2015
  • Cumulative sales: total $3.7 million, up from $199,232 at year-end 2015
  • Cumulative follow-on funding: total $21.8 million. All grant recipients have received follow-on funding, ranging from $60,000 to $13,650,000 … to date.

LaunchKC is a civic engine in the Kansas City tech startup space. It is committed to elevating KC into one of the nation’s top 10 most livable, viable cities for entrepreneurs to be successful and to celebrate the community’s assets.

“We are continually searching for the best and brightest startups or early stage tech businesses to compete for $500,000 in grants,” Solomon said. “We want to help these entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true in Kansas City.”

 

Application window closes today for LaunchKC competition

Grant winners from the 2017 LaunchKC competition celebrated their selections at the close of the LaunchKC Pitch Day last September at the historic Power and Light Apartment Building.

Tech entrepreneurs have one more day – or, until midnight tonight – to apply for a share of the $500,000 grant pool offered by LaunchKC, the grants competition for tech startups.

The deadline to file an online application is midnight, Wednesday, July 11.

“You can’t win, if you don’t enter. And, today is the deadline for entrepreneurs to enter the LaunchKC competition,” said Mike Hurd, chief marketing officer for LaunchKC, an initiative of the Downtown Council and the Economic Development Corporation.

This year marks the fourth annual LaunchKC competition for tech startup and early stage businesses. Entrepreneurs who apply by midnight today will enter a competition that could result in one of nine grants totaling $500,000.

“The 2018 LaunchKC grants application is available online now through midnight,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president for business and job development at the EDC and the leader of the grants competition. “This is your opportunity to compete for a share of the grant pool.”

Entrepreneurs can apply for a LaunchKC grant online via the www.LaunchKC.org website. And, with less than 24 hours before the application window closes, Hurd offered five reasons why a budding business leader should still apply:

  • Cash grants are at stake for the best startup and early stage businesses. LaunchKC will award eight $50,000 grants, plus one $100,000 grand prize.
  • Industry-specific mentoring support coordinated by the Small Business Technology Development Center at UMKC.
  • Educational programming and professional services for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.
  • Pitching in the big show
    • Following weeks of assessment, LaunchKC judges will select 20 finalists to advance to Techweek in Kansas City (Oct. 8-12), where they will make their pitches before a live judging panel and audience on Friday, Oct. 12 at Union Station.
  • You can’t win, if you don’t enter

To apply, go to the online application … right now.

LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri, working in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri.

LaunchKC Sponsors 

LaunchKC and its core group of sponsors – include the Missouri Technology Corporation, along with the City of Kansas City, The Cordish Companies, Downtown Council, Dunn Family Foundation, Economic Development Corporation, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, ITEN, Kansas City Power & Light, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lathrop Gage, Lead Bank, LightEdge Solutions, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, RubinBrown, Spring Venture Group, Techweek and UMB Bank.

LaunchKC Partners

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Fountain City Fintech, the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center, the Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships, and the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

 

Grant winners speak out about virtues of LaunchKC

Startland News editor Bobby Burch, left, leads a Facebook Live conversation last week with three LaunchKC grant winners, including Erika Klotz, PopBookings; Dominique Davison, PlanIT Impact; and Jeff Rohr, SquareOffs.

Courtesy of The Startland News

With a July 11 application deadline nearing, LaunchKC past winners emphasized the popular, high-profile grants contest is about much more than chasing a payday.

“There’s the community piece. There’s the exposure piece. But once you win — or even once you apply — you’re getting that support system behind you, the connections that you might need,” said Erika Klotz, whose firm PopBookings was among the first LaunchKC success stories in 2015. “It’s a startup essential. We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t have some sort of support system, if we were just lone wolfing it. That’s not a good path to take.”

LaunchKC applicants now are vying for eight awards of $50,000 and one $100,000 grand prize that will be doled out after a live pitch competition Oct. 12 at Techweek Kansas City. The program has already awarded $1.5 million to 29 startups over the past three years. Apply here.

Klotz, along with Jeff Rohr, CEO at SquareOffs, and Dominique Davison, CEO at PlanIT Impact, joined Startland’s Bobby Burch this week for a Facebook Live conversation about LaunchKC’s long-term impact on winning startups like theirs.

Most people in the entrepreneur community know about LaunchKC’s prize money and free office space for winners, said Rohr, but many don’t consider the quality of its programming.

“LaunchKC has done a great job of getting experts on various topics. These people really know what they’re talking about,” he said. “It’s good to just break out of the day-to-day and go to a two-hour lunch to pick up a tip or two on something you’re going to encounter.”

And it’s at such gatherings that startups come together, bonded by their early stage challenges and achievements, added Davison.

“Kansas City is really unique in how galvanized our community is around the technology and startup space, and LaunchKC is a critical part of that,” she said.

The program grew out of a recognition to support entrepreneurs, said Drew Solomon, senior vice president of business development at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. The City of Kansas City, Missouri, the area corporate community and the Missouri Technology Corporation all worked together to launch the initiative — not only to give startups a boost but also to flex Kansas City’s growing reputation as an innovative community.

Click here to watch the Facebook Live conversation.

And, remember, the LaunchKC application window for 2018 is open until midnight next Wednesday, July 11.

nbkc bank to launch FinTech accelerator with LaunchKC support

Leveraging an area aptitude for innovation in finance, nbkc bank is launching an accelerator program for early-stage financial technology startups from across the globe, Startland News reported on Wednesday.

The Kansas City-based community bank has partnered with the LaunchKC grants competition to offer the Fountain City Fintech Accelerator, which will soon welcome applications for its inaugural class. The 75-day program begins Oct. 1.

nbkc bank in Kansas City announced plans on Wednesday to launch the Fountain City Fintech Accelerator in partnership with LaunchKC this year.

“LaunchKC is thrilled to partner with nbkc bank to start Fountain City Fintech, adding another great resource for entrepreneurs and expanding the city’s efforts to become the most entrepreneurial city in America,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president, business and job development at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

“It’s a great expansion to the LaunchKC grants competition, and the team at nbkc has shown they’re willing to invest the time, effort and dollars in the community to make innovation happen. We are currently conducting grant making opportunities to increase the impact and reach of the accelerator.”

LaunchKC was founded in 2014 by the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the EDC. It is currently seeking applications for the fourth annual competition that will award $500,000 in grants to nine tech entrepreneurs on Friday, Oct. 12, the final day of the Techweek Kansas City conference.

nbkc bank and LaunchKC will select five companies from the pool of applicants, each of which will receive a minimum $50,000 investment in exchange for 2 to 4 percent equity in the firm. In addition to the funding, nbkc will provide the firms mentorship, connections and space at its headquarters located at 8320 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, The Startland News reported.

Zach Pettet

The program will be led by Kansas City startup champion Zach Anderson Pettet, who recently made the case that Kansas City is an underground tech hub. 

“Kansas City’s been a Fintech hub for longer than most people realize,” said Pettet. “The likes of H&R Block, BATS, and ZOLOZ have paved the way for an upcoming wave of financial technology innovation.

“With community Partners like LaunchKC, VC Partners like Plug and Play Ventures, and a stable of top-flight mentors from around the world, Fountain City Fintech is excited to play a pivotal role in that wave.

“We’re perfectly positioned to accelerate entrepreneurs’ efforts to solve real-world financial problems through technology.”

To learn more, or to apply to the Fountain City Fintech Accelerator, visit www.fountaincityfintech.com

LaunchKC reaches out for the best, brightest applicants

The clock is ticking for entrepreneurs to apply for the 2018 LaunchKC grants competition and a possible share of $500,000 in non-dilutive grants.

The fourth annual grant competition for tech startups began its call for applications on April 2 and is due to close the window at midnight on July 11 – just about four weeks away. To learn more, visit LaunchKC.org.

Off to a Great Start

“We are off to a great start with applications this year,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for the Downtown Council, parent organization for LaunchKC. “More than 400 applications are currently in process, which is ahead of the pace we’ve seen in the last three years.”

And, with a month left in the application period, Hurd said LaunchKC is launching a new application outreach campaign today via social media.

“We have created a series of video testimonials with past LaunchKC grant recipients, who encourage entrepreneurs to take a chance with the LaunchKC application,” Hurd said. “And, with $500,000 in grants at stake, the application process is a great investment in a business’ future.”

The video series features Heather Spalding, CEO of Cambrian, the 2017 grand prize winner, along with Chris Costello of Blooom, Erika Klotz of Pop Bookings, Jeff Rohr of SquareOffs and Tim Sylvester of Integrated Roadways.

LaunchKC is a platform for attracting tech entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses to establish and grow their new and emerging enterprises in Downtown Kansas City. In its first three competitions, LaunchKC awarded $1.5 million in grants to 29 entrepreneurs. More than 1,100 startup businesses from around the world applied for grants in those first three years.

Looking for the Best and the Brightest

“We are searching for the best and brightest to apply and compete for $500,000 in grants,” Hurd said. “Our goal is to attract them to Downtown Kansas City. We want to help these entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true in Kansas City.”

LaunchKC is sponsored by the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, The Cordish Companies, Husch Blackwell, Kansas City Power & Light, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lead Bank, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, Spring Venture Group, UMB Bank, American Century Investment, the J.E. Dunn Family Foundation, Google Fiber, Lathrop Gage and RubinBrown.

LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri, working in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri.

MTC recommends $200K investments in LaunchKC companies

The Missouri Technology Corporation’s investment committee voted Tuesday to recommend $500,000 in funding to four startups, including H3 Enterprises and PlanIT Impact, winners of $50,000 grants in the 2017 LaunchKC grants competition.

The MTC’s board of directors will make final decisions about the funding at the end of June, but Bill Anderson, executive director of the MTC, said it is fairly likely that the board will approve the committee’s recommendations as they are.

“Unless there is some kind of exigent circumstance … typically the investment committee makes a recommendation for funding and the board approves that,” Anderson said.

The investment committee recommended the following funding:

  • $250,000 to Babyation, a startup that develops discreet, quiet breast pumps
  • $100,000 to H3 Enterprises, a startup that combines music and technology into tools for children’s education and health
  • $100,000 to PlanIT Impact, a sustainable design tool
  • $50,000 to Jarvis, a mobile concierge technology (contingent on the Mid-Missouri Accelerator Fund investing at least $25,000)

Babyation is based in St. Louis. The other three startups are based in Kansas City.

The Innovation, Development, and Entrepreneurial Advancement Funds, or IDEA Funds, are used for “direct co-investments into high-tech startups headquartered in the state of Missouri,” accing to the MTC’s website. The MTC was created by the state legislature to support entrepreneurship by investing in startups.

In the current fiscal year, Anderson said, the MTC received 25 applications requesting a total of $5.8 million in co-investment. If the investment committee’s recommendations are approved by the board, the MTC will approve a total of $2.76 million in co-investment for 16 applications, Anderson said in an email.

Since the IDEA Funds were launched in 2011, the MTC has invested $42.8 million in 122 companies, Anderson said in an email.

In considering investments, Anderson said, the committee considers many of the same things private investors would look at, such as market opportunity, the startup’s team, the support they receive from entrepreneurial support organizations, and potential co-investments. He added that the MTC also looks at economic development and job opportunities.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the MTC also addressed the Missouri General Assembly’s decision to reduce its funding for the upcoming fiscal year by $250,000, down to $2.25 million. MTC is the leader funder of the LaunchKC competition, which has awarded $1.5 million in grants to 29 entrepreneurs in just three years.

LaunchKC is currently accepting applications (through July 11) for the 2018 competition. During July and August, a panel of LaunchKC judges will select 20 finalists from the pool of applicants to advance to the competition Pitch Day on Oct. 12 in Kansas City

Anderson told the investment committee, “there may be some programs that we can’t do in the coming fiscal year, given the current budget.”

“This is going to be really, really tough, in meeting the needs of the entrepreneurs,” said Jason Hall, chair of the MTC’s board of directors. “Re-engaging with the legislative leadership (and) the new governor will all be very, very critical.”

Techweek, LaunchKC prepare for robust 2018 KC conference

Tim O’Reilly

Tim O’Reilly, San Francisco, California, 2017.

Techweek 2018 in Kansas City is shaping up to be one of the best yet.

The fourth annual Techweek Kansas City conference – set for Oct. 8-12 – will return to a more traditional conference format with a heavy focus on sessions and speakers, a three-day Business Expo, opportunities for tech entrepreneurs to shine, along with the fourth annual $500,000 LaunchKC grants competition finals on Friday, Oct. 12 at Union Station.

Techweek announced today (May 31) that one of the top speakers in the country, Tim O’Reilly, will  address the audience in Kansas City. Tim is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., which delivers online learning, publishes books, runs conferences, urges companies to create more value than they capture, and tries to change the world by spreading and amplifying the knowledge of innovators.

O’Reilly has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed on, and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how “Web 2.0” represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot com bust, but a new model for the computer industry, based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his “Gov 2.0 Summit,” he framed a conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the Federal, State, and local level, and around the world.

He has now turned his attention to implications of AI, the on-demand economy, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the business world. This is the subject of his recently published book from Harper Business, “WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us”.

Techweek brings a great tech offering this year including the three-day Techweek KC EXPO, which will host 100 booths of exciting tech companies from startups to enterprise level companies.

Below is an overview of the schedule for the week including some of the content tracks, with more additions coming:

Monday, Oct. 8 thru Wednesday, Oct. 10

  • Big Data Summit
  • Techweek EXPO
  • Fintech Track
  • HealthTech Track
  • AR/VR Track
  • Crypto/Blockchain Track
  • Minority Inclusion in Technology Track
  • Public Policy in Tech Track
  • Venture Capital Track
  • Pure Pitch Rally
  • BetaBlox Demo Day

Thursday, Oct. 11

  • Digital Crossroads: Future Lens Track
  • Techstars Demo Day
  • VIP After Party powered by Lead Bank
  •  Techweek Founder’s House

Friday, Oct. 12

  • Day-long platform for the LaunchKC grants competition for tech entrepreneur; tentative schedule features:
    • 9 a.m. LaunchKC keynote speaker
    • 9:30 a.m. LaunchKC competition finalists will pitch the judges with their grant-worthy business plans
    • 3:30 p.m. LaunchKC to award $500,000 in grants to nine entrepreneurs

LaunchKC is currently accepting applications online – through July 11 – for the $500,000 grants competition. To apply, go to http://launchkc2018.startupcompete.co/. LaunchKC select nine grant recipients during the Techweek Kansas City conference. One entrepreneur will receive a $100,000 nondilutive grant, while either others will receive $50,000 each.

Techweek highlights for Oct. 8-12

Techweek is planning a busy week in Kansas City that will include dozens of panels, speakers and topics related to technology and entrepreneurship. Each day will include a featured keynote speaker. For  just a sampling of additional world class speakers slated to speak at Techweek in KC, Techweek will host:

  • Phil DeSimone – Co-founder of Carbon3D, a Silicon Valley-based digital 3D Manufacturing company recently valued at $1.7 Billion
  • Dr. Karen Kerr – Executive Managing Director at GE Ventures  and PhD in Physical Chemistry
  • Dr. Fred McKinney – Dartmouth University, Managing Director of Minority Business Programs
  • Kimberly Bryant – Black Girls Code Founder
  • Rodney Sampson – Founder of Opportunity Hub in Atlanta
  • Kira Blackwell – Program Executive at NASA Headquarters

“I am looking forward to Techweek as an opportunity to bring thought leaders from across the country to Kansas City helping to engage Midwest based executives and investors and creating a dialogue about the future.” Lesa Mitchell , Managing Director of Techstars KC.

Tickets for Techweek 2018 in Kansas City go on sale to the public tomorrow (Friday, June 1). For updates on the agenda and activities, go to Techweek Kansas City.

 

LaunchKC opens 2018 grants competition today

Heather Spalding, CEO of Cambrian Tech, celebrates after learning that her startup company won the $100,000 grand prize at the 2017 LaunchKC competition in September. The application window opens on April 2 for the 2018 grants competition.

Let the competition begin!

LaunchKC, the fourth annual grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, opened the application window at 8 a.m. today (Monday, April 2), as the 100-day online window opens to innovators around the country.

LaunchKC ignited its 2018 promotional campaign in mid-March at SxSW Interactive in Austin, Texas. Drew Solomon, who chairs the Kansas City-based grants competition, made the announcement at Startup Night SxSW 2018, an event presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Tech.Co.

“In its first three grants competitions, LaunchKC awarded $1.5 million in grants to 29 entrepreneurs,” Solomon said. “More than 1,100 entrepreneurs from around the world have applied for grants in those first three competitions.”

LaunchKC is a civic engine in the Kansas City tech startup space. It is committed to elevating KC into one of the nation’s top 10 most livable, viable cities for entrepreneurs to be successful and to celebrate the community’s assets.

Competition Countdown for 2018

  • April 2 – Application window opens at www.launchkc.org
  • July 11 – Application window closes at midnight
  • July to September – Panel of expert judges to review applications and narrow list of contenders to 20 finalists by early September
  • Week of October 8-12 – LaunchKC finalists will be featured throughout the fourth Techweek Kansas City conference
  • October 12 – Selection of 10 grant recipients on LaunchKC Day during the final day of Techweek!

“We are searching for the best and brightest startups or early stage tech businesses to apply and compete for $500,000 in grants,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for the Downtown Council and LaunchKC. “We want to help these entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true in Kansas City.”

Of the 29 startup or early stage businesses to receive LaunchKC grants over the last three years, 26 of them – 90 percent – are still in business.

Grant Recipients

The active 26 startups include Big Bang, BlitabBlooom, Cambrian, ConsultUS, FEWDM, Forest Devices, H3 Enterprises, HealthID, HerdDoggIntegrated Roadways, Intelag, iShare Medical, Labor Chart, Mobility+Designed, MusicSpoke, MyCroft, PerfectCube, PlanITImpact, PopBookings, Sickweather, SquareOffs, Super Dispatch, TradeLanes, VideoFizz and Zitches.

LaunchKC Partners

LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri, in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri.

LaunchKC Sponsors

LaunchKC and its core group of sponsors – who have supported the competition since day #1 – including the Missouri Technology Corporation, along with the City of Kansas City, The Cordish Companies, J.E. Dunn Construction, Husch Blackwell, Kansas City Power & Light, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lathrop Gage, Lead Bank, the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, Techweek and UMB Bank.

The competition is supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center, the Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships, and the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

For more information, contact Mike Hurd, marketing officer for the Downtown Council and LaunchKC at mike@downtownkc.org or 816-447-2136.