LaunchKC advances 20 businesses to competition finals

LaunchKC has selected 20 businesses to compete for nine grants totaling $500,000 at the LaunchKC grant competition at Techweek on Sept. 15. Steering Committee chair Rachel Merlo of Google Fiber is pictured during an address to Downtown Council members and stakeholders earlier this year.

 

LaunchKC announced today its selection of 20 tech entrepreneurs who will be in Kansas City in three weeks to compete for $500,000 in grants, and an opportunity to build their business enterprises here. The finalists were selected from a pool of 400 grant applicants.

The 20 contenders include 14 from the Kansas City metropolitan area; five from four U.S. states; and one international business from the Ukraine. Each will be in Kansas City in mid-September to compete for nine startup grants, during the Techweek Kansas City conference + festival from Sept. 11-15.

“It has been another strong year for applications to LaunchKC,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president of business development at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, and competition chairman for LaunchKC. “We are very fortunate to have the immense support of our judges, sponsors and the Kansas City community in securing the final 20 who will compete for the $500,000 available in this year’s competition.”

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

LaunchKC is a global grants competition designed to attract tech entrepreneurs to compete for $500,000 in non-dilutive grants and the opportunity to build their new and emerging tech businesses in Kansas City, Missouri. This year, LaunchKC will award nine grants on Friday, Sept. 15, including eight $50,000 grants and one grand prize award of $100,000.

“LaunchKC has attracted nearly 1,500 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our first three years of competition,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “When we award the next $500,000 at Techweek, we will have reached $1.5 million mark in awards in just three years.”

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 400 applicants from 19 states and five nations to the 20 finalists announced today.

The 20 finalists (alphabetically, by company name and team leader) for the Launch KC grants competition include:

  • Aware Vehicles: ZhiQiang Chen, Kansas City, Mo.
  • backstitch: Jordan Warzecha, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Blue Point 2: Liderman Duin, Leawood, Kan.
  • Cambrian Tech: Heather Spalding, Leawood, Kan.
  • H3 Enterprises: Roy Scott, Kansas City. Mo.
  • HerdDogg: Melissa Brandao, Longmont, Colo.
  • Hidden Abilities: Jamee Miller, Lawrence, Kan.
  • iShare Medical: Linda VanHorn, Kansas City, Mo.
  • MenuHunt: Beau Clinton, St. Joseph, Mo.
  • Miles: Lance Windholz, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Music Spoke: Jennifer Rosenblatt, Kansas City, Kan.
  • PlanIT Impact: Dominique Davison, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Play-it Health: Kimberly Gandy, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Redivus Health: Jeff Dunn, Olathe, Kan.
  • Sickweather: Graham Dodge, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Smart Bridge Health: Hua Wang, Washington, D.C.
  • TradeLanes: Vijay Harrell, Kansas City, Mo.
  • UniExo: Tatiana Holovachenko, Ukraine
  • Vytal: Jared Goering, McPherson, Kan.
  • Zitches: Bart Patenaude, Kansas City, Mo.

In addition to cash grants, the nine winning applicants will receive a network of support, including 12 months of free office space in Downtown KC; 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, Missouri by supporting start-up businesses, creating jobs, attracting talent, unlocking value and engaging follow-on investors,” Hurd said.

LaunchKC is a nonprofit, civic engine in the Kansas City entrepreneurial space.

The program is fueled each year by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners. For 2017, the sponsor honor roll includes:

Supporters: Missouri Technology Corporation; the City of Kansas City, Missouri

Visionaries: Husch Blackwell; KCP&L; The Cordish Companies / Kansas City Power & Light District; William T. Kemper Foundation; Techweek; UMB Bank; Downtown Council of Kansas City; Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City

Contributing: Burns & McDonnell; Lathrop & Gage: Lead Bank; Missouri Department of Economic Development; Polsinelli; Spring Venture Group

Emerging: Allied Global; J.E. Dunn Construction; Google Fiber

Friends: Adknowledge; ITEN; LightEdge Solutions

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

 

LaunchKC begins judging hundreds of applications

Blooom the local financial technology business, was one of 10 startups to win $50,000 grants from LaunchKC during its first competition in 2015.

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, completed a successful application campaign in July – topping its goal for number of applications to the 2017 competition.

About 400 applicants from 19 states and five nations were submitted by entrepreneurs who will be competing for $500,000 in LaunchKC grants that will be awarded at the Techweek Kansas City conference in September.

“LaunchKC has attracted about 1,500 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our first three years of competition,” said Drew Solomon, who chairs the competition for LaunchKC. “This year’s field is a tough one – with great talent, vision and drive clearly visible in their applications and pitch videos.”

Following an extensive judging process that begins this week, the field will be pared down by late August to 20 finalists who will compete for nine grants – including a $100,000 grand prize and eight $50,000 grants – on Friday, Sept. 15 at the Techweek KC conference.

“LaunchKC has attracted about 1,500 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our first three years of competition,” said Drew Solomon, who chairs the competition for LaunchKC. “This year’s field is a tough one – with great talent, vision and drive clearly visible in their applications and pitch videos.”

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

LaunchKC is fueled by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners, including:

  • Strategic: Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri
  • Visionary: Kansas City Power & Light District, William T. Kemper Foundation, UMB Bank
  • Contributing: Burns & McDonnell, Google Fiber, KCP&L, Lead Bank, Husch Blackwell, Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, Techweek
  • Emerging: J.E. Dunn Construction, Lathrop & Gage
  • Friends: Allied Global, ITEN, Marriott Downtown Kansas City
  • Supporters: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center, Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships, Think Big Partners, UMKC Bloch School of Business

 

 

 

LaunchKC application countdown reaches 2 (days)

Erika Klotz, center, CEO of Pop Bookings, one of 20 tech startups to earn grants from LaunchKC over its first two competitions. Applications are open only 2 more days to the 2017 competition.

The magic number number is down two!

Tech entrepreneurs have only three days left before applications are due for the LaunchKC grants competition on Friday. And, there is MUCH at stake for tech startups.

Not only will LaunchKC give out $500,000 in grants – including one $100,000 grand prize – to nine entrepreneurs, but also the final round of competition will unfold live at Techweek Kansas City  on Friday, Sept. 15.

LaunchKC is a platform for attracting tech entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses to establish/grow emerging enterprises in Kansas City. It is seeking the best and brightest entrepreneurs to apply and compete for $500,000 in non-dilutive grants.

In its first two years, LaunchKC has awarded $1 million via $50,000 grants to 20 startups from six states and three nations. This year will mark the first time that LaunchKC has featured one $100,000 grand prize.

The application window for the third annual LaunchKC competition is open until 11:59 p.m. Friday. To apply, go to the online application at http://launchkc2017.startupcompete.co/

“Let LaunchKC be the fuel for your entrepreneurial fire,” said Mike Hurd, spokesman for LaunchKC. “A $50,000 grant – let alone a $100,000 grand prize – would serve as a powerful liftoff for a startup business.”

Countdown: 7 reasons & 7 days left to apply for LaunchKC

LaunchKC has awarded $1 million in grants to 20 tech entrepreneurs, including this group from 2016, over the last two years. Applications for the third annual grants competition are due next Friday, July 7.

Tech entrepreneurs have only seven more days to apply for a share of the $500,000 funding pool offered by LaunchKC, the global grants competition.

LaunchKC is in its third year of offering $500,000 in non-dilutive grants to tech startups, following a rigorous competition that culminates at the Techweek Kansas City conference in September.

“The LaunchKC grants application is available online now through midnight on Friday, July 7,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “This is your opportunity to compete for a share of the grant pool.”

LaunchKC has awarded $1 million in grants over the last two years to 20 entrepreneurs from six states and three nations.

Entrepreneurs can apply for a LaunchKC grant online via the LaunchKC.org website. And, with only seven days left before the application window closes, Hurd offered seven reasons why a budding business leader should apply now:

  1. You could score a $100,000 grant! LaunchKC will award eight $50,000 grants, plus – for the first time – one $100,000 grand prize.
  2. Free office space in Downtown for one year. Each grant recipient will score free working space in the heart of the Crossroads – home of KC’s innovation district
  3. Professional coaching from mentors with expertise in your niche. Each grant recipient will be paired with an industry-specific mentor team
  4. Free educational programming for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. Each recipient will get the chance to learn the basics of business development from those who have been there.
  5. Pitching in the big show! Following weeks of assessment, LaunchKC judges will select 20 applicants to advance to the Techweek Kansas City conference, where they will make their pitches before a live judging panel and audience on Sept. 15.
  6. Everything starts with a spark. LaunchKC has invested $1 million in grants for 20 tech entrepreneurs over the last two years. Consider LaunchKC as the fuel to your flame. Light up!
  7. You can’t win if you don’t play, err, enter. Applications for the 2017 LaunchKC competition will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 7. Click here to  review the online application form.

LaunchKC is a non-profit initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the Economic Development Corp., and is funded by generous and visionary sponsors, including:

  • Strategic – Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Techweek;
  • Visionary – Kansas City Power & Light District, UMB Bank;
  • Contributing – Burns & McDonnell, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, KCP&L, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development;
  • Emerging – Polsinelli, J.E. Dunn Construction, Lathrop & Gage, Marriott Downtown Kansas City;
  • Supporting – Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships; Think Big Partners; UMKC  Bloch School of Business.

More? Contact Mike Hurd, marketing officer, mike@downtownkc.org or 816/447-2136.

 

Countdown is ON for LaunchKC applicants: 30 days to go!

Kansas City prepares to welcome LaunchKC finalists to town for the Techweek conference and judging in September.

With just one month to go before the LaunchKC application deadline officially closes, entrepreneurs still have time and plenty of incentive to apply for $50,000 and $100,000 in equity-free grants.

LaunchKC, the grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, is open to startups from around the globe. Each applicant will be competing for one of eight (8) $50,000 grants and one (1) grand prize grant of $100,000.  Recipients also receive expert mentorship, incubator space, and they win access to resources, and infrastructure to build their business in Downtown Kansas City.

 

“This is a time to take your chance,” said Drew Solomon, competition chair for LaunchKC. “You have until midnight on Friday, July 7, to elevate your startup business plan, gain access to a non-dilutive grant, complete the online application form, prepare a pitch video, and enter LaunchKC.”

The 2017 LaunchKC competition opened on March 1, and celebrated with a kickoff event during the acclaimed South X Southwest Festival in Austin. The online application form is available at http://launchkc2017.startupcompete.co.

“Our goal for 2017 is to raise the bar in our search for the best applicants, which is one of the reasons we are offering at grand prize of $100,000 to one recipient” Solomon said. “Our emphasis is on the future of Kansas City and the tech-driven enterprises that allow for continued growth and development of this city.”

Once the application window closes online July 7, Solomon will lead a panel of business leaders as they begin the rigorous review of the applications over the next six weeks. All applications will be reviewed multiple times, as judges narrow the list of contenders down to 20 finalists.

When the judging concludes on Aug. 24, the finalists will advance to the Techweek Kansas City conference on on Friday, Sept. 15, where they will present and compete before a panel of judges and conference attendees.

In 2016, LaunchKC selected its second class of 10 entrepreneurs, including Mycroft, ConsultUs, FEWDM, Super Dispatch, Big Bang, Perfectcube, Mobility Design, Forest Devices, Innovelity and Labor Chart.

In 2015, grant recipients included Blooom, Health ID, Integrated Roadways, KC Drone Company, Nodal Security, PopBookings, Pycno, Square Offs, Vertisense and VideoFizz.

“It’s amazing to see what this program has done for the city, and in turn what the city has done for the recipients”. Solomon said.

LaunchKC research of the 2015 grant recipients – as of March 2017 – indicates the buinesses employ 48 full-time Employees, which was a net increase of 20 FTE’s from the prior year.  Also, the average salary of a grant recipient’s full-time employees is $68,500, up by nearly $28,000 from the prior year.

LaunchKC is supported by a strong base of sponsor partners from the public and private sectors, including; the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, the Kansas City Power & Light District, UMB Bank, Burns & McDonnell, KCP&L, Lead Bank, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, Polsinelli, the State of Missouri Department of Economic Development, Lathrop & Gage, J.E. Dunn Construction, Marriott Downtown, Techweek, the Downtown Council of Kansas City and the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

To learn more about the LaunchKC competition, or becoming a sponsor partner, visit www.launchkc.org for more information and to access the online application form http://launchkc2017.startupcompete.co.

With only 30 days left to apply, this is the perfect time to to jump in.

 

Startup activity continues to improve – Kauffman Foundation

Photo by NASA.

National startup activity grew slightly in 2016, a consecutive three-year improvement that reached pre-Great Recession levels, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and reported by The Startland News.

However, in the long-term view startup activity is still in decline when compared to the 1980s,  the 2017 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity found. To read more on the national index, click here.

Victor Hwang, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, said that although the results are encouraging, work remains to create more economic dynamism.

“A three-year upward trend in new business formation is a promising sign for the economy,” Hwang said in a release. “Recent research demonstrates that more startups lead to higher productivity, wage growth and quality of life. Growing startups not only support individual entrepreneurs but lift surrounding communities.

“We need to identify and remove barriers and contribute to a new model of economic development that infuses more entrepreneurship into the economy.”

In Kansas City, LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, is currently seeking applicants for its third annual challenge. At stake is $500,000 in non-dilutive grants – including a $100,000 grand prize – to attract nine tech startups to Kansas City, Missouri to establish and grow their businesses. Only 44 more days remain before the application deadline of July 7. Click here to learn more.

The Kauffman Index — which presents entrepreneurial trends nationally, at the state level and for the 40 largest metro areas — revealed two remarkable improvements in U.S. entrepreneurship, according to The Startland News.

First, the index found that more new entrepreneurs are starting businesses to pursue a good opportunity rather than to generate income. The share of new entrepreneurs pursuing a business opportunity rather than starting a firm from necessity reached 86.3 percent — a 12 percentage point improvement since 2009, according to the report.

It also found that U.S. entrepreneurs are becoming more diverse. First-generation immigrants now make up nearly 30 percent of all new U.S. entrepreneurs — the highest level for the second time in 20 years, growing from 13.3 percent in 1996.

The index also analyzes startup activity in the 25 largest and smallest states, as well as the 40 largest metro areas.

Among the largest states, California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Colorado had the highest startup activity in 2017, respectively. Missouri ranked No. 10 in the 25 largest states.  To learn more about the state-by-state comparisons, click here.

‘Entrepreneur’ ranks KC as 4th hottest for startups in U.S.

Kansas City ranks #4 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s latest list of the hottest startup markets in America.

Entrepreneur Magazine has selected Kansas City as one of nine,hot startup cities – no. 4 to be precise – that are not New York or San Francisco. KC is one of only two Midwestern cities on the top nine listing.

“Ask someone to name cities with thriving tech, media, fashion or food scenes, and you’ll hear the usual suspects: San Francisco; New York; Portland, Ore.,” Entrepreneur.com reported today. “But there’s a slew of other metro areas with established infrastructure and skilled work forces that can match those more established locations at a fraction of the cost of living and with less day-to-day stress.”

Entrepreneur’s list of the U.S.’ hottest startup marketplaces include: Salt Lake City, Baltimore, Nashville, Kansas City, Sacramento, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Houston, Boston and Los Angeles.

“These are the places where startup dreams come easier and cheaper, but can still pay off big,” Entrepreneur Magazine reported. “Start packing.”

‘Start packing’ is precisely the message echoed by LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs based in Downtown Kansas City.

LaunchKC is looking to award $500,000 in grants to nine startup businesses that choose to build their enterprises in Kansas City, Missouri. The winning nine businesses will be selected through the LaunchKC competition that is accepting applications online for 50 more days!

Now in its third year, LaunchKC is a platform for attracting tech entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses to establish/grow emerging enterprises in Kansas City.

A few new wrinkles in the LaunchKC competition this year include:

  • Introduction of a $100,000 grand prize grant to be awarded on Sept. 15
  • LaunchKC judges will hear pitches from 20 competition finalists at Techweek KC on Friday morning, Sept. 15, and select 9 recipients of $50,000 grants who will be introduced that evening.
  • During the awards ceremony, one of the 9 recipients will be selected to have his/her grant doubled to $100,000!

In its first two years, LaunchKC has pumped $1 million into the Kansas City tech space through $50,000 grants awarded t0 a total of 20 entrepreneurs from 6 states and 3 nations!

LaunchKC grant recipients not only will earn cash grants, but also one year of free working space in Downtown Kansas City; industry-specific mentor teams; and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders from KC.

So, who will compete at Techweek Kansas City in September? Who will win the grants in 2017?

You can’t win at LaunchKC if you don’t apply. And, LaunchKC has 50,000 (or more) reasons why you should go for it … within the next 50 days.

Applications for the 2017 LaunchKC grants competition are available online. The window will remain open until midnight on Friday, July 7, 2017.

Cue the countdown: 60 days left to apply for LaunchKC grant

Erika Klotz, center, CEO of Pop Bookings, one of 20 tech startups to earn grants from LaunchKC over its first two competitions. Applications are open for 60 more days before the 2017 contest.

Cue the countdown – there are only 60 days let for you to apply – or spread the word to potential applicants – for a slice of the $500,000 in LaunchKC grants. The application window closes on July 7.

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, is in hot pursuit of the best and brightest business startups to apply for  half a million dollars in non-dilutive grants that will be awarded during Techweek Kansas City on Sept. 15.

Now in its third year, LaunchKC is a platform for attracting tech entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses to establish/grow emerging enterprises in Kansas City. LaunchKC is an initiative of the Downtown Council of Kansas City working in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, is an economic engine in the City’s tech/startup ecosystem.

A few new wrinkles in the LaunchKC competition this year include:

  • Introduction of a $100,000 grand prize grant to be awarded on Sept. 15
  • LaunchKC judges will hear pitches from 20 competition finalists at Techweek KC on Friday morning, Sept. 15, and select 9 recipients of $50,000 grants who will be introduced that evening.
  • During the awards ceremony, one of the 9 recipients will be selected to have his/her grant doubled to $100,000!

In its first two years, LaunchKC has pumped $1 million into the Kansas City tech space through $50,000 grants awarded t0 a total of 20 entrepreneurs from 6 states and 3 nations!

LaunchKC grant recipients not only will earn cash grants, but also one year of free working space in Downtown Kansas City; industry-specific mentor teams; and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders from KC.

So, who will compete at Techweek Kansas City in September? Who will win the grants in 2017?

You can’t win at LaunchKC if you don’t apply. And, we have 50,000 (or more) reasons why you should go for it.

Applications for the 2017 grant competition are available online. The window will remain open until midnight on Friday, July 7, 2017.

Just ask Erika Klotz, CEO of PopBookings – grant winner from 2015.

Apply todaythe application window will close in 60 days!

Special thanks to LaunchKC sponsors:

  • Strategic: Missouri Technology Corporation, City of Kansas City, Missouri, William T. Kemper Foundation, Techweek
  • Visionary: Kansas City Power & Light District, UMB Bank
  • Contributing: Burns & McDonnell, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, Kansas City Power & Light, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development, Polsinelli, Downtown Council of Kansas City, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City
  • Contributing: J.E. Dunn Construction, Lathrop & Gage, Marriott Kansas City Downtown
  • Supporters: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Centers; Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Think Big Partners, UMKC Henry W. Bloch School of Management

Click here to learn more about becoming a LaunchKC sponsor.

 

LaunchKC to introduce grants competition to SxSW tech festival

LaunchKC will headline a Kansas City program at The KC Outpost, during the SxSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas on Sunday.

LaunchKC, the Downtown Kansas City-based grants competition for tech startup businesses, will kick off its 2017 application process at the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW)  in Austin, Texas on Sunday.

This year, LaunchKC will provide the award for ‘Startup of the Year’ at Tech.Co Media’s annual startup night, which takes place after a presentation by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and company pitches at The KC Outpost event location in Downtown Austin. Husch Blackwell is the lead sponsor of this special kickoff event.

“The KC Outpost and partnership with TechCo provides the platform to not only promote LaunchKC, but also the Kansas City community and all we have to offer a business,” said Drew Solomon, chair of the LaunchKC grants competition and senior vice president of business development, Kansas City (Missouri) Economic Development Corporation. “We continue to demonstrate why we feel Kansas City is a great place to start and grow the next venture.”

PopBookings is one of the first 10 grant recipients from the LaunchKC competition for tech entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs can win up to $100,000 in funding and one year of free office space in Kansas City’s innovation district through LaunchKC.  Winners will be supported by LaunchKC’s coaching, mentoring and funding programs to help develop high growth, successful businesses in the Kansas City area. The deadline for applications is midnight, Friday, July 7, 2017.

“We are continuing to search for the best and brightest startups and early-stage technology businesses to apply and compete for grants and free office space,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “Our competition has drawn more than 400 applicants each year, and has funded successful startups that have gone on to raise millions in venture capital funding from Kansas City.”

The 2017 LaunchKC grant competition features a $500,000 grant pool awarded to the top nine applicants – one $100,000 grand prize grant recipient, and eight $50,000 grant winners. The top 20 finalists will attend the annual Techweek Kansas City conference on September 11-16, where a panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists will select the grant recipients on Sept. 15. Entrepreneurs can apply at www.LaunchKC.org.

LaunchKC awarded grants in 2015 and 2016 to blooom, HealthID, Integrated Roadways, KC Drone Company, Nodal Security, PopBookings, IntelAg, Square Offs, Vertisense, VideoFizz, Big Bang, BLITAB, Consult US, FEWDM, Forest Devices, Labor Chart, Mobility Designed, Mycroft, Perfect Cube and Super Dispatch.

“The entrepreneurial culture in Kansas City is the strongest I’ve seen in nearly two decades,” said Tim Cowden, president and CEO, Kansas City Area Development Council. “The work that LaunchKC is doing to bring in entrepreneurial talent from around the world is one reason our region has become a draw for innovation and start-up investment.”

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

LaunchKC is supported by public, private and philanthropic partners including the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, The Cordish Companies and UMB Bank. To learn more about LaunchKC sponsorships, visit www.launchkc.org/sponsors.

LaunchKC opens 2017 grants application window today

Rachel Merlo, chair of the LaunchKC Steering Committee, announces plans for the 2017 grants competition, which begins today.

LaunchKC, the global grants competition for tech entrepreneurs, will begin accepting applications today, 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 competitions. The 2017 race will feature another $500,000 grant pool that will be awarded in September to the judges’ selection of the top nine applicants – 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 early this year 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 top tech entrepreneurs throughout the nation.”

The application window opens at 8 a.m. (CDT) today, Wednesday, March 1 and will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 7. The online application will be available via the http://www.launchkc.org/ website at http://launchkc2017.startupcompete.co/

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

LaunchKC is committed to elevating KC’s brand as an innovation leader nationally by investing in scalable vertical sectors like Advanced Manufacturing, Animal Health, Cloud Services, Data Analytics, EdTech, FinTech, HealthTech, Mobile and Real Estate Tech.

The 120-plus-day application window for the competition begins at 8 a.m. Friday, said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC. Applicants will be competing for $500,000 in grants – including a new grand prize grant of $100,000; free office space in the KC innovation space for one year; industry-specific mentor teams; and professional services, i.e., legal, financial, marketing, and more benefits. The application window will remain open until midnight on July 7.

“Our goal for 2017 is to raise the bar in our search for the best applicants, the most promising start-up businesses,” Hurd said. “Our focus is on tech-powered businesses and ideas that are poised for sustainable growth.”

LaunchKC selected its first class of 10 entrepreneurs, during the Techweek Kansas City conference in September 2015. The grant recipients included Blooom, Health ID, Integrated Roadways, KC Drone Company, Nodal Security, PopBookings, Pycno, Square Offs, Vertisense and VideoFizz.

The second cohort of 10 startups were selected at Techweek KC in September 2016, and included Big Bang. BLITAB, Consult US, FEWDM, Forest Devices, Labor Chart, Mobility Designed, Mycroft, Perfect Cube and Super Dispatch.

LaunchKC is powered by the Downtown Council of Kansas City, in collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City.

It is fueled and inspired by a growing team of sponsors that features the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, Techweek, the Cordish Companies, UMB Bank, DSI, Burns & McDonnell, Kansas City Power & Light, Lead Bank, Missouri Department of Economic Development, Google Fiber, Husch Blackwell, Polsinelli, Lathrop & Gage and J.E. Dunn Construction.

2017 TIMELINE

LaunchKC has adopted the following calendar of key 2017 dates in preparation for the thorough application review and judging process. The countdown begins tomorrow:

06:    Application window opens at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 1

05:    National call for applicants is set for SxSW in Austin, Texas on Sunday, March 12

04:    Application window closes at 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 7

03:    Application review process by panel of experts begins immediately after July 7

02:    Narrow list of applicants to 20 finalists by Thursday, Aug. 24

01:    Selection of 9 grant recipients – including the $100,000 grand prize – following presentations by all finalists at Techweek Kansas City on Friday, Sept. 15.

Visit LaunchKC.org, and learn how LaunchKC is turning ideas into dreams come true.