After weeks of application reviews, LaunchKC has announced the top 20 contenders in their Kansas City-based grant competition.
With a special kudos to Kansas City, 12 of the top 20 are from the metro area. Of the remaining eight finalists, seven are from seven U.S. states; and one from Santiago, Chile. Three of these non-Kansas City companies are graduates of the 2015 Sprint Accelerator class. All 20 finalists will be in Kansas City in mid-September to compete for 10 startup grants.
The competition for LaunchKC has been steep, with nearly 500 applicants competing for $500K in grants.
Drew Solomon, chair of the LaunchKC grants competition, said in a release, “We were looking for the best and brightest to compete in the LaunchKC grants competition. We were very fortunate to have outstanding applicants who exceeded even our high expectations.”
LaunchKC, established just eight months ago, is a global grants competition designed to attract tech entrepreneurs to compete for one of 10 $50,000 grants and the opportunity to build their new and emerging tech businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.
In order to narrow the applicant pool from 500 down to 20 finalists, LaunchKC sought out a panel of 20 local business and financial leaders. Of the scoring process and the panel of judges, Solomon said, “This was a rewarding but strenuous process for the selection committee and we are very grateful for the time and deliberation they gave to the responsibility.”
The 20 finalists for the Launch KC grants competition include:
- Alcohoot: Christopher Ayala, New York, N.Y.
- Appbase: Siddharth Kothari, Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Blooom: Chris Costello, Overland Park, Kan.
- CBG Technologies: Ben Rao, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
- Edge Up Sports: Ilya Tabakh, Kansas City, Mo.
- HealthID: Angelo Pitassi Jr., Cranston, R.I.
- Integrated Roadways: Tim Sylvester, Kansas City, Mo.
- KC Drone Co.: Casey Adams, Kansas City, Mo.
- LaborChart: Ben Schultz, Overland Park, Kan.
- Loadlytics: Rashad Sanders, Boston, Mass.
- Mobility Designed, LLC: Liliana Younger, Roeland Park, Kan.
- Nodal Security: Marcus Eagan, Detroit, Mich.
- Ovatemp: Daniel Graf, Kansas City, Mo.
- PopBookings: Erika Klotz, Kansas City, Mo.
- Pycno: Nikita Gulin, Santiago, Chile
- SkillGravity: Alina Kharina, San Francisco, Calif.
- SquareOffs: Jeffrey Rohr, Kansas City, Kan.
- Ulytic: William Martin, Columbia, Mo.
- Video Fizz: Laura Steward, Kearney, Mo.
- Virtutecture: Tracy Ford, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
As finalists prepare their pitches for Techweek in mid-September, they not only have a shot at winning a $50,000 grant, but also gaining a network of support gathered by LaunchKC. Winners will receive 12 months of free office space in Downtown Kansas City; industry-specific mentor teams for each grant recipient; and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders in and around Kansas City.
Chris Costello, co-founder and CEO of Blooom, expresses his utmost enthusiasm for being selected as a finalist, saying, “Blooom is extremely proud to be one of the 12 local Kansas City based start-ups to make this list. [We are] hoping to make KC very proud of this midwestern company hell-bent on disrupting the financial services industry!”
By funding 10 new startups in Kansas City, LaunchKC hopes to build the high-growth, tech sector in Downtown Kansas City, Mo. The LaunchKC initiative was unveiled by Mayor James at the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon earlier this year.
“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,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC. “Our first class of finalists gets us closer to realizing this vision.”
LaunchKC will culminate with final judging and the announcement of the 10 grant recipients at Techweek Kansas City on Friday afternoon, Sept. 18.