Leaders of the Kansas City Startup Village are maximizing their volunteer efforts with the establishment of a foundation that hopes to unite startups and entrepreneurs in the area.
Formalized in October as an official 501(c)3 public charity, the Kansas City Startup Foundation grew out of the village’s need for more external support and resources.
Founded in 2012, the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV) is a community of entrepreneurs that serendipitously moved to the first neighborhood to receive Google Fiber. The foundation will serve directly as a conduit of support for not only the village, but also other local entrepreneurial efforts that lack resources or widespread awareness.
Matthew Marcus, an outspoken champion of Kansas City entrepreneurship, is now serving as the foundation’s inaugural president. Marcus has co-founded several tech ventures, served as a co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village since its 2012 inception and is currently CEO of the startup 1 Minute Candidate.
Marcus said the foundation was born from the idea of creating a more formalized support structure for the startup village.
“We originally pondered the idea of turning the village into a non-profit, however, we feared doing so would result in the village losing its organic, grassroots nature,” Marcus said. “As we discussed the idea of creating the KCSF, we quickly realized the bigger potential at hand. The KCSF could certainly support the KCSV, but why stop there? Why couldn’t it support other startup community building efforts and organizations that are sometimes overlooked by the community? The answer became clear that it could and should.”
Marcus said the foundation plans to offer and lead a variety of programs to unify and support Kansas City entrepreneurship. One program, called “Founders Finding Funding,” hopes to engage both investors and entrepreneurs to foster more cohesion between the groups with meetings.
Another endeavor — Startup Community Micro-Grants — will directly inject financial support into not-for-profit efforts that aim to grow the local entrepreneur community. The grants program can provide organizations with a small amount of financial support to get their ideas off the ground and into action.
“Startup Grind” also will be managed by the foundation, offering Kansas Citians the chance to participate in a fireside chat with high-profile entrepreneurs in the region. Marcus said the foundation’s board is exploring other opportunities to maximize its local impact.
The foundation’s board consists of a variety of local business and community leaders. Here’s the cast:
- Melissa Roberts, marketing director of the Enterprise Center of Johnson County
- Rachel Merlo, Kansas City community manager at Google Fiber
- Matt Shatto, CEO of the Shatto Milk Company
- Adam Arredondo, director of entrepreneurship at CEED and co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village
- Mike Farmer, CEO and co-founder of Leap.it
- Matthew Marcus, CEO of 1 Minute Candidate and co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village
Marcus said that the foundation’s next steps include a fundraising effort to support the KCSV and a search for a new executive director, for which he himself is applying.
“I’m personally so impressed and inspired by the KCSF and the beneficial impact it will make in Kansas City that I’m putting my own entrepreneurial endeavors on hold,” he said of his intention to apply for the executive director position. “Support for the KCSV has been incredible because of our community of active and engaged entrepreneurs. People have given their time and talent to the cause and KCSV exists because of those gifts.”