In roughly four months, Kansas City will welcome a crop of tech startups bolstered by thousands of dollars in funding and a rockstar arrival.
Kansas City’s LaunchKC competition — which aims to attract 10 tech firms to relocate to KC with $50,000 grants — has partnered with national tech conference Techweek to offer the winners a grand entrance into KC.
Venture capitalist and tech expert judges will select the winners out of about 25 pre-selected startups at a demo day during Kansas City’s Techweek, which is set for Sept. 14 – Sept. 20.
“This as a great opportunity for everyone,” said Drew Solomon, director of entrepreneurship and industry initiatives at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, which is helping to manage LaunchKC. “The partnering of the grant competition and Techweek gives us a platform to raise our city’s and region’s profile nationally.”
Solomon said that LaunchKC has already received more than 200 applicants from 12 states and three countries. The competition is now accepting applications until July 2 for tech companies in such fields as animal health, cloud services, advanced manufacturing, education, finance, data analytics, health, mobile and real estate technology. Click here to apply.
Sam Kennedy, Techweek’s editor-in-chief, said that the conference expanded to Kansas City for an array of reasons, including its up-and-coming startup scene, longstanding tech prowess and revitalized urban core. A partnership with LaunchKC, he said, was the cherry on top.
“You can visualize the ecosystem building itself quite literally from the ground up,” Kennedy said of Kansas City. “Kansas City has really put a lot behind their effort to be the startup capital of the Midwest, and it’s become quite tangible when you see it happening. People are moving back into the downtown area, there’s a revival of the urban center, and we’ve noticed that trend first hand.”
Kennedy described Techweek as a South-by-Southwest style event that features a variety of programs, including speakers, a job fair, fashion show, social events and many others. Techweek is expecting 3,000 to 5,000 participants for its inaugural conference in Kansas City. Among the first announced speakers include Jonathan Badeen, co-founder of Tinder, and Kristin Smith, CEO of Code Fellows.
In addition to a $50,000 grant, LaunchKC’s 10 grant winners can access a year of free office space at either Think Big or Lead Bank, and also will receive free legal, marketing, accounting, cloud computing and educational opportunities. LaunchKC received a $250,000 matching grant from the Missouri Technology Corporation, and the funds were matched by several area corporate and philanthropic groups.
Solomon said that LaunchKC hopes not only to boost the economy through new businesses, but also show that the area has companies worthy of investments.
“This competition serves as an excellent calling card for people to understand that there’s the potential for a fertile landscape and good opportunities for investable deals here,” Solomon said. “Through the creation of a competition like this, Kansas City and our corporate partners have made a very declarative statement that we want to entertain and develop relationships with folks in the venture capital community.”