The Kansas City Startup Foundation’s year-long search for a new executive director ended right where it began.
The foundation — whose mission is to unify Kansas City’s startup and entrepreneur community — recently hired Matthew Marcus as its executive director. Marcus, who most recently served as the foundation’s chairman, will begin his tenure in May.
“It’s an honor to be the inaugural executive director,” Marcus said. “Myself and the rest of the board have always believed that Kansas City’s startup and entrepreneur community would greatly benefit from the mission and goals of the foundation. Becoming the organization’s first employee and captain of the ship affords me the opportunity to help realize the foundation’s mission and goals as well as blend my love of entrepreneurship and startup community building.”
The 43-year-old startup veteran is an outspoken champion of Kansas City entrepreneurship and has co-founded several tech ventures. He is now CEO of the startup 1 Minute Candidate and co-founded Local Ruckus and KULA Causes. Marcus is also a co-leader of the Kansas City Startup Village.
Marcus will lead fundraising efforts for the foundation, execute its programming initiatives, support its partner programs and build relationships with community stakeholders. The foundation is also a co-organizer and supporter of the Kansas City Startup Crawl on May 20.
Formed in 2015, the foundation now aims to boost the whole of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community, but initially was started to support the Kansas City Startup Village. Founded in 2012, the Kansas City Startup Village 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.
Melissa Robert, a foundation board member, said that Marcus is well suited for the position, given his involvement in the community.
“There’s no one with a better understanding of the pulse of the startup village than Matthew,” she said. “He’s been involved since the very earliest stages and it’s fitting that he continues his work to expand the collision density that has made the village successful thus far and support efforts that encourage similar density across the city.”
Marcus said he’ll be quickly working to execute on an array of foundation goals for 2016, namely fundraising. He hopes to clearly demonstrate the value of a cohesive entrepreneurial community to all of Kansas City.
“What’s the ROI of community? That’s a question that many groups have struggled to measure for a long time,” he said. “Many times it’s qualitative and not quantitative — and that’s OK. What it boils down to is the energy and attitude of the community. Is it on an upward trajectory? Are the stakeholders excited to be a part of it? Are there tangible results being realized like a prosperous economy? I think the answer to these three questions for Kansas City is yes, yes, and yes. The foundation wants to do its part to continue Kansas City’s amazing and awesome momentum.”