It’s been a year since Startland News spread its journalistic wings.
And that presents us an opportunity to reflect on the flood of stories that Kansas City stirred up in the last 12 months. We’ve published more than 400 stories in the last 365 days. Although they detail a myriad of subjects in on the startup ecosystem, here are 10 memorable pieces that truly showcase their community impact.
In no particular order, enjoy the Startland stroll down memory lane. Let us know what stories were most memorable to you!
1. KC’s first innovation officer reflects on work, city’s tech future
In what marked a technological milestone for the City of Kansas City, Mo., Ashley Hand reflected on her more than two years of service as its first chief innovation officer. Two of her key accomplishments include developing the city’s Digital Roadmap and laying the foundation for its Smart City initiative. Her departure opened up the opportunity for another innovative leader, Bob Bennett, a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army that’s wasted no time pushing the city’s innovation envelope.
2. New $20M fund supercharges VC dollars in Kansas City
Thanks in large part to KCSourceLink’s 2015 “We Create Capital” report, Kansas City saw last summer how far behind its peer cities it is in regard to accessible risk capital. Much has improved in the subsequent months, including the announcement of this $20 million “KC Rise Fund” led by Darcy Howe. As part of the KC Rising economic initiative, the fund will co-invest in local startups that successfully nab a term sheet from another venture capital organization. Local partners will invest at least $1 for every $5 invested by a VC.
3. Rightfully Sewn founder stitches a vision for Kansas City’s fashion future
In this artfully-crafted piece by Andrea Essner, we discovered a local founder who’s not only fueling a passion for fashion but also empowering at-risk women with a new career. With the self-made moniker of a “mutated prairie mouse,” Jennifer Lapka Pfeifer purveys creative magnanimity that inspires as much as it improves the local fashion industry. Lapka’s startup, Rightfully Sewn, embodies Kansas City’s pragmatic and altruistic flavor of entrepreneurship.
4. KC tech firms respond to ‘bleak’ millennial voter turnout
“Pathetic” doesn’t really capture the low level of youth participation in Kansas City’s 2014 municipal elections. Not even 1 percent of registered voters under 30-years-old cast a ballot in those elections. But in true entrepreneurial style, a handful of Kansas City startups saw the problem as an opportunity.
5. New, wireless Google project could make KC the most connected city on earth
This relatively-overlooked tidbit of news could be a game-changer for Kansas City. In the next two years, Google hopes to build several massive public wireless networks offering speedy connections — and all for free. The company cited Kansas City’s connectivity to Google Fiber and its understanding of innovation as the reasons why it’s piloting the project in the City of Fountains.
6. Mayor Sly James’ vision for Kansas City: Innovation and entrepreneurship
Since his first term, Kansas City Mayor Sly James has been a vocal proponent of local entrepreneurship. He re-solidified that priority during his most recent State of the City address. Many of his plans for the next decade incorporate innovation and entrepreneurship, including the Smart City initiative, LaunchKC, growing the tech workforce, closing the digital divide and more.
7. Arredondo: ‘Kansas City nice’ is stifling innovation
Startland community builder Adam Arredondo certainly ruffled feathers with this piece. Its premise? Kansas City “nice” can limit constructive criticism for fear of being perceived as mean or rude. That limited feedback, in turn, stalls or kills ideas that otherwise could have been realized with the help of candid conversations. If Arredondo wanted to spur more candid conversations, he at the very least accomplished that on this subject, as it’s one of Startland’s most-discussed opinion pieces.
8. Kansas City creativity sticks out among the weirdest in Austin
Startland was fortunate to be able to travel to South-by-Southwest to cover Kansas City’s contingent of entrepreneurs. But, now looking back at the experience, we were even luckier to see how Kansas City firms more than held their own among the most innovative ideas in the world.
9. Facing his daughter’s near-death sparked life in George Brooks’ business
In this gripping and emotional narrative, Crema founder George Brooks relays how a near tragedy fostered his business. Brooks built the foundation of his startup in the hospital while watching his daughter fight for her life. It’s an incredible reminder that there are more important things than business. This is a story of making priorities, and for Brooks, that foremost means God and family. Read it — you won’t be disappointed.
10. After Apple Watch snafu, Niall gifts Royals’ Yost a timepiece
Sometimes in entrepreneurship and life, timing is everything. And while it certainly took a slew of business savvy, Niall couldn’t have asked Major League Baseball for a better PR opportunity than its banning of Royals manager Ned Yost’s Apple Watch. Niall CEO Mike Wilson quickly gifted Ned Yost a snazzy Niall watch, who in turn sported the timepiece throughout the playoffs and fielded many questions from reporters on the subject.