KC innovation district platform introduced to GEW audience

Kevin McGinnis, Keystone Community Corporation.

Courtesy of The Startland News, Nov. 13, 2018

Developing an innovation district takes a village, Kevin McGinnis told a packed room of Global Entrepreneurship Week attendees — a cross-section of Kansas Citians eager to learn more about how his proposed Keystone innovation district could re-shape diversity and inclusion efforts in the startup space.

“I’m not going to suggest that I’m bringing a bunch of Overland Park executives in to mentor the black community,” said McGinnis, CEO of the Keystone Community Corporation, attempting to clarify his plans during the GEW panel on emerging innovation districts.

Developers aren’t out to erase or diminish the heritage and history of the people who make their homes or businesses in the neighborhoods in and around 18th and Vine — the area the former Sprint executive and founder of the Sprint Accelerator intends to redevelop into an entrepreneurial hub, he said.

Click here to read more about the planned Keystone innovation district.

A series of diversity and community engagement programs are planned for the district, but have yet to be fleshed out, McGinnis added.

Speaking up during a question-and-answer period at the event, Nia Richardson, director of business development at DuBois Consultants, a Kansas City civil and structural engineering firm, challenged the generalities of McGinnis’ announced plans.

Ditching words like “diversity” and “inclusion” are a start, she said, encouraging the panel and attendees to directly address the reality than an innovation district would most impact the black community already living in the area proposed for redevelopment.

“It’s easy to be very specific [in what you’re doing],” said Richardson. “Be very intentional about making sure ‘I can grow black businesses and create more jobs’ to help combat the issues that you have [on the east side].”

The CEO and his partners are open to community-curated ideas and collaboration with local organizations as they navigate their role in diversifying the entrepreneurial ecosystem, he replied.

“We’re not there yet, and I’m not suggesting we have all the answers,” McGinnis said to Richardson, aiming to contrast the Keystone District proposal with fears of gentrification. “What I’m trying to create is a front door to the regional economy of innovation.”

All too often, diversity-led programming doesn’t know where to find a home in Kansas City, McGinnis argued. Establishing a centralized port of economic and entrepreneurial activity — like the Keystone District — could correct the course and provide a welcoming place for diverse and inclusive ideas and activities to flourish in Kansas City, he said.

“I’ve probably picked the most sensitive corridor in Kansas City,” McGinnis told the room, confident in his decision to redevelop in the area. “I’m willing to take [building the Keystone District] on and see what we can do with it.”

News of McGinnis plans for the Keystone District broke last month, shortly after his company secured its first parcel of land near 18th and Vine.

To stay abreast of the KC tech scene, stay tuned to the Startland News.

LaunchKC tops $2 million in grants to tech start-ups

2018 LaunchKC grant winners

LaunchKC judges awarded $500,000 in grants to nine tech start-up businesses on Friday, following a months-long competition designed to attract and retain tech entrepreneurs in Kansas City.

This year’s grants competition elevated LaunchKC to the $2 million mark in grants to 38 different entrepreneurs over four years.

“This is a tremendous milestone as we demonstrate our commitment to attracting, growing and retaining startup businesses in Downtown Kansas City,” said Mike Hurd, spokesman for LaunchKC, an initiative of the Downtown Council and the Economic Development Corporation.

The nine winners, including five from Greater Kansas City were selected Friday afternoon from a pool of 20 finalists. Each of the final 20 presented their business pitches that morning to LaunchKC judges and the Techweek Kansas City audience at Union Station.

Grant winners were announced Friday afternoon at a special LaunchKC / Techweek Kansas City awards ceremony at No Other Pub in the Power & Light District.

Ag Voice from Atlanta, GA, was only the second, $100,000 grand prize recipient in LaunchKC history. It is a mobile voice-interaction service designed for food and agriculture professionals to capture insights on the go. By using proprietary analytics and processing of raw voice files including captured time stamps and location data, users can improve productivity and workflow management, increase documentation accuracy, and gain valuable insights to optimize the use of resources in crop and animal production for a sustainability and environmental impact.

Another $400,000 was awarded on Friday in $50,000 parcels to eight entrepreneurs, including:

Drew Solomon, right, begins the LaunchKC awards ceremony on Friday afternoon at No Other Pub In the Power & Light District.

“Each of the 20 finalists were very strong contenders for LaunchKC’s grants, as well as for building strong, economically successful businesses,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president for business job development at the EDC and chair of the LaunchKC competition.

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 – up 32 percent from 2017 – to the 20 finalists who competed on Friday.

“LaunchKC attracted more than 2,000 applications from throughout the nation and the world in our four years of competition with tech entrepreneurs,” said Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “This year’s awards mean we have reached $2 million mark.

“We believe in entrepreneurship and we believe these start-ups have a better chance to success in Kansas City,” Hurd said.

In addition to cash grants, the nine winning applicants will receive a network of support, 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 KCMO.

“LaunchKC is an economic game-changer in Kansas City through its support of start-up businesses. It creates jobs, attracts talents, unlocks value, and engages follow-in investors,” Solomon said.

LaunchKC is a nonprofit, civic engine in the Kansas City entrepreneurial space. It is an initiative of the Downtown Council and the Economic Development Corporation. The program is fueled each year by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners. For 2018, the sponsor honor roll includes:

STRATEGIC SPONSORS

  • Missouri Technology Corporation and the City of Kansas City, Missouri

VISIONARY SPONSORS

  • The Cordish Companies / Power & Light District; Downtown Council of Kansas City; Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City; and the William T. Kemper Foundation

CONTRIBUTING SPONSORS

  • Husch Blackwell; KCP&L; and the State of Missouri, Department of Economic Development

EMERGING SPONSORS

  • Adknowledge; American Century Investments; BalancePoint; J.E. Dunn Construction; Google Fiber; ITEN; Lathrop Gage; LightEdge Solutions; Metropolitan Community College, Parson & Associates, RubinBrown; and Spring Venture Group

DOWNTOWN CIRCLE

  • Academy Bank; Country Club Bank; Generator Studio; Helix; Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Park University; and the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

www.launchkc.org * @Launch_KC

NASA leader & LaunchKC Pitch Day are on tap for Friday

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 8 a.m. Friday, 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 the final round of 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 9 a.m. on Friday, 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.

LaunchKC judges worked for six weeks to narrow the 2018 field of entrepreneurs from 586 applicants to the final 20, who will compete on the big stage this Friday, including:

  • 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 in the Extreme Screen Theatre at Union Station will look like this:

  • 8 a.m. Keynote address by Kira Blackwell, NASA
  • 9 a.m.-12 p.m. LaunchKC Pitch Day of all 20 competition finalists
  • Noon-3 p.m. Judges meet in private to score presentations and decide who will receive grant money
  • 3:30 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, and are available right here.

Also, make sure you download the Attendify app to view the entire week’s schedule and see the location of every session. We will have multiple sessions in multiple areas of Union Station. The Attendify app is the best way to confirm the location and time of the session you wish to attend. Link to App: https://attendify.com/app/nmy2xr/

See below for a summary of the complete Techweek 2018 schedule.

 

LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. It is fueled each year by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners. For 2018, that honor roll includes:

 STRATEGIC SPONSORS

  • Missouri Technology Corporation and the City of Kansas City, Missouri

VISIONARY SPONSORS

  • The Cordish Companies / Power & Light District; Downtown Council of Kansas City; Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City; William T. Kemper Foundation; and Techweek

CONTRIBUTING SPONSORS

  • Husch Blackwell; KCP&L; and the State of Missouri, Department of Economic Development

EMERGING SPONSORS

  • Adknowledge; American Century Investments; BalancePoint; J.E. Dunn Construction; Google Fiber; ITEN; Lathrop Gage; LightEdge Solutions; Metropolitan Community College, Parson & Associates, RubinBrown; and Spring Venture Group.

DOWNTOWN CIRCLE

  • Academy Bank; Country Club Bank; Generator Studio; Helix; Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Park University; and the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

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

5 reasons to attend Techweek KC this year

The fourth annual Techweek Kansas City conference continues today, at Union Station and other KC locations will be hubs of innovation, discussion and inspiration now through Friday.. If you haven’t already made plans to attend, it’s worth rearranging your schedule.

Our friends at the KC Digital Drive have 5 reasons why:

5. Learn something new: Smart City development, blockchain, FinTech, big data, diversity and inclusion in technology—there’s no shortage of topics discussed during panels, keynotes and presentations throughout the week. See the schedule.

4. Solve a problem: Are you struggling with a work-related problem that technology could solve? Techweek KC includes the Techweek KC EXPO, a mini tradeshow floor – from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today (Tuesday) and Wednesday – that showcases solutions and capabilities from companies ranging from start-ups to enterprise-level.

3. Cheer on local entrepreneurs: Both BetaBlox and Techstars will host demo days during Techweek, giving early-stage entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their companies. Who knows—you might very well see The Next Big Thing in Tech right here in Kansas City! Plus, the LaunchKC grants competition will award grants to start-up businesses (Friday), and you’ll get to see it all unfold at Techweek KC.

2. Expand your network: Just think—during Techweek KC, you’ll not only be able to mix and mingle with local leaders, entrepreneurs and stakeholders, but you’ll also have a chance to talk with national innovators who are leading the way at companies like Google and NASA. Keep those business cards handy!

1. Make lasting change: One of the best things about Techweek KC is that it sets the stage not only for learning, but also for action—and you can join in. On Wednesday, for example, a day-long track will be dedicated to diversity and inclusion in tech entrepreneurship, including how to build inclusive ecosystems. The tech industry is often slowed down by too much talk and too many buzzwords. Instead, at Techweek KC, you’ll have a rare opportunity to cut through the noise and make things happen.

There  you have it! Five great reasons to attend Techweek this week. See you there!

Buy Tickets (use code artechbbq for 50% off)

P.S. Students get in free (use code CollegeKC)

See you there!

Techweek to open week-long KC schedule on Monday

Courtesy of The Startland News

Candidates to be Kansas City’s next mayor will take the stage Monday at Union Station in one of Techweek KC’s first events of 2018 to talk tech and its importance in shaping the city’s future, said Ryan Weber.

Techweek returns to Kansas City on Monday for its fourth, annual week-long technology and entrepreneurial conference. Events runs through Friday, which will feature the LaunchKC Pitch Day and a keynote address by NASA’s Kira Blackwell. A snapshot of the complete Techweek program is featured below.

“We’re still a long way from the [April 2] primary election, but this forum will help voters be more educated about the various candidates, their experience, credentials, and vision for the future of KCMO as a whole,” said Weber, president of the KC Tech Council.

The forum does not include front-runner and former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who announced Tuesday in a Facebook that he was dropping out of the race because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. Announced candidates appearing Monday at Techweek KC include Alissia Canady, Jermaine Reed, Phil Glynn, Quinton Lucas, Steve Miller, Scott Taylor, and Scott Wagner.

With nearly 100,000 tech jobs across the metro, the tech-focused forum is a can’t-miss for curious citizens who have questions about the city’s digital evolution, Weber said.

“[The tech space] lifts an economy, employs workers, and accelerates development,” he said. “We hope every candidate has a strategy to enable this growth.”

The KC Tech Council hopes each candidate has a tech-focused strategy prepared for the city, if they are elected come the June 25, 2019, general election, Weber said.

Adding the mayoral forum to a full Techweek KC schedule — which was released Monday, and can be accessed using the Attendify app — is one of the dozens of ways the 2018 event is diverging from previous incarnations of Techweek KC.

Weber is expecting a conversation Monday that’s both lively and informative, he said.

Click here for tickets to Techweek KC.

Techweek to shine spotlight on KC’s entrepreneurial scene

Techweek – Kansas City’s biggest conference series for entrepreneurs – returns next week alongside some of KC’s most premier accelerator programs and content. Demo days for Techstars KC and BetaBlox will join LaunchKC as signature events during the Oct. 8-12 conference.

In addition to Big Data, Techweek’s 2018 tracks focus on healthcare technology, venture capital, IoT/smart cities, virtual reality and augmented reality, digital media/marketing, public policy in tech, minority entrepreneurship/inclusion, and cryptocurrency/blockchain.

Techweek brings a great tech offering this year including the 2018 Techweek KC EXPO, which will host 100 booths of exciting tech companies from startups to enterprise level companies, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 8-10.

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

MONDAY, OCT. 8 – WEDNESDAY, OCT. 10

  • Big Data Summit

  • Techweek EXPO

  • Smart City

  • Fintech Track

  • HealthTech Track

  • Crypto/Blockchain Track

  • Minority Inclusion in Technology Track

  • Tech & Public Policy Track

  • Venture Capital Track

  • Pure Pitch Rally

  • BetaBlox Demo Day

  • Boulevard Beer Hall presented by Spring Venture Group

  • NBKC Happy Hour at NBKC Corporate Headquarters

  • Techweek Founder’s House

THURSDAY, OCT. 11

  • Techstars KC present Digital Crossroads: Future Lens Track

  • Techstars Demo Day

  • VC Summit presesnted by Lead Bank

  • VIP After Party powered by Lead Bank

FRIDAY, OCT. 12

  • LaunchKC keynote address – Kira Blackwell, NASA

  • LaunchKC Grant Competition, $500,000 in grants made on the spot

The week 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

For more and information and tickets to Techweek in Kansas City, visit the conference Eventbite site.

 

One week to go for Techweek + LaunchKC competition

The fourth annual Techweek in Kansas City conference – featuring the LaunchKC grants competition for tech entrepreneurs – is right around the corner.

Amanda Signorelli, Techweek.

Techweek returns to KC on Monday, Oct. 8 and runs through Friday, Oct. 12. The fourth annual LaunchKC competition is the closing act of Techweek 2018 next Friday, as 20 finalists will pitch their business plans to a panel of judges and the Techweek audience.

“Techweek 2018 in Kansas City is shaping up to be one of the best yet,” said Amanda Signorelli, CEO of the Chicago-based conference + festival producers. “Techweek brings a great tech offering this year including the 2018 Techweek KC EXPO, which will host 100 booths of exciting tech companies from startups to enterprise level companies.”

Union Station will serve as home base for this year’s Techweek, including conference sessions and KC EXPO on Monday through Wednesday and the LaunchKC competition on Friday. The Midland Theater will be the focus of activities next Thursday, as the focus turns to the Techstars Demo Day and programming on the Digital Crossroads.

Friday will be dedicated to LaunchKC activities, including an opening keynote address now set for 8 a.m.  by Kira Blackwell, Program Executive, Office of the Chief Technologist, NASA.

Kira Blackwell, NASA.

The LaunchKC finalists will begin making their pitches to the judges at 9 a.m., and wrapping up around noon. The panel of judges will break for the next two hours to discuss the finalists, score all 20 of the presenters, and come to an agreement on the top nine entrepreneurs.  The nine grant winners will be announced at approximately 3:30 p.m. that day.

“We are thrilled with the quality of our 20 finalists,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “This year’s Pitch Day promises to be the best one yet!”

See below for a summary of the complete Techweek 2018 schedule. Tickets are available right here.

To discover more about Techweek and LaunchKC, watch this space for a daily blog post every weekday through Friday, Oct. 12.

 

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 8 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 9 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.

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:

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

 STRATEGIC SPONSORS

  • Missouri Technology Corporation and the City of Kansas City, Missouri

VISIONARY SPONSORS

  • The Cordish Companies / Power & Light District; Downtown Council of Kansas City; Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City; William T. Kemper Foundation; Lead Bank; and Techweek

CONTRIBUTING SPONSORS

  • Husch Blackwell; KCP&L; Lead Bank; and the State of Missouri, Department of Economic Development

EMERGING SPONSORS

  • Adknowledge; American Century Investments; BalancePoint; J.E. Dunn Construction; Google Fiber; ITEN; Lathrop Gage; LightEdge Solutions; Metropolitan Community College, Parson & Associates, RubinBrown; and Spring Venture Group.

DOWNTOWN CIRCLE

Academy Bank; Country Club Bank; Generator Studio; Helix; Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Park University; and the UMKC Bloch School of Management.

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.

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. Up to $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 up to $500,000 in grants,” Solomon said. “We want to help these entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true in Kansas City.”