Millennials now make up the largest portion of the working population.
A generation growing up with fast-paced technology in hand, Kansas City will have to move quickly to keep ahead of the curve and to attract and retain young talent.
In order to do that, the LiveKC initiative was born in order to make Kansas City a better place for millennials to “live, work and play.”
“How can we flood this city [downtown] with people rather than most of us getting done with your job at five p.m., jumping in your car, going home and then watching Netflix?” director of LiveKC Erik Wullschleger said. “No city is ever going to transform with that sort of mentality.”
Since 2014, LiveKC has hosted several city events and encouraged civic engagement.
Wullschleger said that although he believes buzz for the city has grown, it is still a little difficult for young people to find attractive things to do around town. Yet, the area is booming with events and he wants to shine a light on these to convince more young people to set up a home-base in Kansas City.
LiveKC’s solution, which launched in August: a curated events app.
This isn’t a new idea for Kansas City — notably KC Startup Village’s Local Ruckus, which pulled the plug in 2014, and currently the Digital Sandbox-funded Flokk — so Wullschleger has made a point of learning from others who have attempted to solve the same problem in the past.
“We built this first version knowing that probably 90 percent of it is wrong, but (we know that) our idea is right.” – Erik Wullschleger said.
Wullschleger quickly discovered the classic chicken and egg problem with local events; a good application needs to be full of events for people to adopt it, but event organizers don’t use new platforms until it can show significant usage.
“We built this first version knowing that probably 90 percent of it is wrong, but (we know that) our idea is right,” Wullschleger said. “Our goal is that, over time, this thing becomes so socially engaging that you can’t imagine planning your night out without this app.”
To solve the chicken and egg problem, LiveKC will be tapping into the 450 million active Facebook event users, a number Wullschleger thought was too high to ignore. He doesn’t want the app to be just one more place that event promoters have to remember.
Instead of fighting against Facebook, LiveKC has teamed up with Code Koalas to create an interface that discovers Facebook events, then filters them through community interests: arts, causes, community, entertainment, food and drink, interests, learning and sports and fitness.
Once users select their interests, they can choose to follow any of the app’s handpicked local “tastemakers,” which Wullschleger defines as “the Oprahs of their micro-communities.” Weekly, local experts will sort through events in their specialty area and select which deserve their stamp of approval.
Wullschleger believes that handing control over to local experts will make the experience personable; and more effective than Facebook’s algorithm that tends to only show nearby events that a large number of friends have committed to going to.
“The problem with these filters is if you’re not in a particularly interesting area of town, you may miss something,” Wullschleger said. “If you’re not friends with really cool hip people, that do really cool hip things all the time, you’re going to miss something. And if you already know that there’s a Chief’s game this weekend, you don’t need Facebook to tell you.”
Originating from Omaha, Wullschleger is proud to call Kansas City home. When he first moved, he said he underestimated Kansas City and planned to leave once his wife finished law school. Once plugged into the community, he discovered that Kansas City is a place where you don’t have to conform to a specific culture and anyone with a little bit of drive and hustle can grow. He is thankful for the freedom the community gives him to make his mark.
“Doesn’t everybody want their backyard to be better?” Wullschleger said. “I want to love where I live. I’m proud to be able to be a small part of helping it be better. That’s really why I’m here.”