A prominent venture capitalist is launching an international competition in Kansas City that will offer a startup free office space in one of the area’s tech hotbeds.
Brad Feld, co-founder of the Boulder-based Foundry Group, kicked off a contest Tuesday that will allow a startup to live in his Kansas City, Kan., home for one-year rent-free. Feld — who’s also co-founder of Techstars, which operates the Kansas City-based Sprint Accelerator — purchased the home in 2013 as Google Fiber first deployed its gigabit network in the area.
Feld said that the aim of the competition is to foster more innovation in Kansas City.
“I’m a huge believer that you can build startup communities anywhere,” Feld told Startland News. “I have a long relationship with Kansas City around entrepreneurship as a result of my work with the Kauffman Foundation going back to the mid-1990s. … (Kansas City) is growing and developing nicely.”
Applications to the competition are now open to companies from around the world, Feld said. Tenants are responsible for utilities at the home, however, Feld will cover the cost of Google Fiber’s connection. Feld said he will also offer mentoring to the startup that wins the competition.
Already two companies have lived in Feld’s so-called “FiberHouse” rent free, including Kansas City-based Leap.it and 3-D printing company Handprint. The house is a part of the Kansas City Startup Village, a community of entrepreneurs that serendipitously formed after Google’s installation of its fiber network.
Feld said the idea of purchasing the home came about when he bumped into Ben Barreth, founder and owner of Kansas City’s Home for Hackers program.
“I ran into Ben Barreth at the ‘Thinc Iowa’ conference and he breathlessly told me about what he was doing in Kansas City around Google Fiber and the Kansas City Startup Village,” Feld said. “I loved the idea and figured I’d participate in the KC Startup Community by buying a house in the KCSV and giving it rent free for startups.”
Applications for the contest will be accepted through Aug. 30, at which point a panel of judges will review the pool of applicants and narrow the field to five finalists.