LaunchKC takes flight today in KC’s thriving tech scene

LaunchKC, a business model competition for tech startup firms, will be introduced at noon Friday, Jan. 9, by the Downtown Council (DTC) before a record 1,000 stakeholders at its Annual Luncheon in the Kansas City Convention Center.

LaunchKC is designed to attract tech entrepreneurs locally, regionally and nationally to apply and compete for up to 10 (ten) $50,000 non-dilutive grants, mentorship, transitional work space and other incentives. LaunchKC will select the top-scoring entrepreneurs and then support and assist them with coaching, mentoring and funding to develop high growth, successful businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.

“We are delighted to announce LaunchKC,” said Bill Dietrich, president & CEO of the Downtown Council and chief administrative officer of LaunchKC. “It will serve as a nonprofit civic engine and accelerator in the Kansas City tech scene.”

Today’s milestone news is possible thanks to assistance from the Missouri Technology Corp. (MTC), the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Lead Bank, UMB Bank, Kansas City Power & Light, Polsinelli LLC, Sprint, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Think Big Partners and other local partners.

LaunchKC is an economic development initiative of the Downtown Council, working in partnership with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City. It stems from Mayor Sly James’ bi-state innovation initiative that was established two years ago.

The new effort is funded initially by a $250,000 grant from the MTC, and matched by another $250,000-plus from corporate, public and philanthropic supporters.

“Entrepreneurship is vital to growing Missouri’s economy. These are the folks that are changing and sculpting our world as well as creating jobs in our communities,” said Mike Downing, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development. “Our investment will assist in attracting talent and ideas to the state as well as add to the abundant resources and supportive infrastructure that fosters growth in the entrepreneurial community.”

“LaunchKC’s objective is to create a more robust startup culture and infrastructure in Kansas City, Missouri,” Dietrich said. “This will strengthen our growing Innovation District in Downtown, where investors, inventors and entrepreneurs collaborate within a livable, walkable and transit-connected urban center.

The concentration of more than 400 “brain-powered” businesses in greater Downtown today provides a fertile foundation for germinating new ideas and launching innovative businesses. The density of this tech district is an economic game-changer destined to create jobs, attract talent, unlock value and engage private investment in Downtown.

The application process for the first class of LaunchKC grantees is due to begin on March 31. A team of LaunchKC grant reviewers will narrow the list of qualified applications over two months this summer. The selection of the grant recipients will be managed by a local/national judging panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and announced in mid-September.

The website will serve as the gateway for the application process. Applicants will be able to apply online through I-Start and SharePoint software that has been donated and modified for LaunchKC by the Kauffman Foundation and Sprint.

Entrepreneurs will be drawn to the competition by:

  • Up to $50,000 non-dilutive cash grants
  • Free transitional work space for 12 months
  • Industry-specific mentor pools for each of the grant recipients
  • Personal and group interactions with entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, legal experts, venture capitalists and more.

LaunchKC will focus on business models in scalable, vertical sectors where Kansas City already has considerable expertise, such as Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture, Animal Health, Big Data, Cloud Services, Data Analytics, Financial Tech, Health Tech, Mobile and Real Estate.

—– * @godowntownkc

LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City

d/b/a Downtown Kansas City Civic Ventures, a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.

For more information on LaunchKC, visit or contact Mike Hurd, director of marketing for the Downtown Council and LaunchKC at

Tech Company is Looking For a Few ‘Great Nerds’ in KC

 Minneapolis-based technology company on Wednesday announced an expansion of its Downtown Kansas City operation that includes adding 100 jobs over the next five years, according to a report by The Kansas City StarThe Nerdery has 33 employees here. After outgrowing its initial Kansas City office after two years, the company moved last month to a larger location in the historic Western Union Building at 100 E. 7th St.The Star continued:

“We found Kansas City by hiring a couple of cool people here,” Tom O’Neill, the company’s president, said Wednesday.

Choosing Kansas City to house what was then Nerdery’s third corporate office was another story. O’Neill said support from the city was critical to seeing the tech community here as a place to land.

“I was a little skeptical we could get that much talent here,” O’Neill said.

Instead, O’Neill said he has found “great nerds” here. The company is looking for software developers and designers and quality assurance and project managers. Job postings are at the company’s website.

The Nerdery is hiring as Sprint, long a significant employer, is cutting its payroll, including more than 450 at its Overland Park headquarters.

“We’re hiring as fast as we can,” O’Neill said.

KC earns high marks from Travel + Leisure

Announced in the magazine’s November 2014 issue, the readers of Travel + Leisure have chosen Kansas City as America’s Most Affordable Getaway for the fourth consecutive year and the third best city overall.

More than 50,000 votes were cast this summer in the magazine’s eighth annual “America’s Favorite Cities” survey, which asked readers to compare 38 destinations in 67 categories, ranging in topics from arts and culture to quality of life.

Kansas City placed among the top five destinations in 20 different categories. In addition to grabbing the #1 spot in Affordability, Kansas City also placed first in categories dedicated to Barbecue, Christmas Lights, Good Drivers and Flea Market shopping. A full list of Kansas City’s 20 top-five finishes is below.

“Kansas City is not-so-quietly earning a name for itself as an exciting destination worth talking about—whether it’s for arts, dining, budget-friendly attractions or sports,” said Visit KC President & CEO Ronnie Burt. “These rankings prove what we’ve known all along: visit KC and you’ll walk away impressed.”

For the full list of rankings, see the November issue of Travel + Leisure on newsstands next Friday, Oct. 17 or visit

Kansas City Rankings in “America’s Favorite Cities”
A Record 20 Top-5 Rankings for KC; #3 Top City Overall


  • #1 Christmas Lights
  • #1 Flea Markets
  • #3 Free Attractions
  • #4 Art Scene
  • #4 Antique Stores
  • #4 Home Décor/Design Stores
  • #5 Galleries
  • #5 Boutiques

Quality of Life

  • #1 Affordability
  • #1 Good Drivers
  • #2 Peace and Quiet
  • #3 Cleanliness

  • #2 Passionate Sports Fans
  • #4 Friendly
  • #5 Geeky

Nightlife, Food & Drink

  • #1 Barbecue
  • #2 Craft Beer
  • #4 Dive Bars
  • #5 Notable Restaurants

Type of Trip

  • #3 G

Huffington Post ranks KC as its #1 Cool City

Too cool. That is (in essence) what The Huffington Post thinks about Kansas City.

“Whether it’s a revamped corner of New York or an up-and-coming Midwest town, it seems like there’s always a new “hip” neighborhood or “it” city to visit,” according to a recent report by Carly Ledbetter of The Huffington Post. “Which had us thinking about the coolest cities to visit right now.”

And, that brainstorm led The Huffington Post to select Kansas City as its top pick for the coolest city in America.

Ledbetter wrote:

“Get to the Green Lady Lounge (1809 Grand) for some jazz, eat awesome BBQ at Q39 (Westport), and don’t forget to check out the historic City Market.

“The food is amazing, nearly everything is affordable, and the people are nice.”

KC was followed by Richmond, VA., Charlotte, San Diego and Minneapolis.

To read more, click here.