The votes are in — and they arrived via page views.
And in case you didn’t know: Kansas City produces a ton of startup news. A year ago today, we published our very first digest, and it’s been a fantastically hectic ride ever since. As a startup ourselves, watching the ticker count on story page views has been both exciting and occasionally surprising. Thanks for your continued readership.
So without further ado, here’s what you and your fellow readers thought deserved a read or two — or tens of thousands.
If you build it, they will come. Or at least, that’s what Royal Street Ventures’ $25 million fund hopes will hold true for Kansas City. The fund arrived in January, and is built on the premise that great startups bring in more investment capital and more money brings in great startups. Circular? Yes, but that’s a symbiotic ecosystem for you.
Everyone loves a success story. Acre Designs is the Midwest’s slightly more frugal answer to net zero homes. Y Combinator — often regarded as the world’s best accelerator program — in February accepted the Kansas City startup into its program to develop Acre’s 1,200 square-foot, $400,000 home and business model.
Sometimes you’ve got to move to grow. Neighborly would agree. The startup struggled to raise capital in the drought of Kansas City’s investment climate and reluctantly transplanted its headquarters to San Francisco. Then, A-list actor and somewhat under-the-radar venture capitalist superstar Ashton Kutcher gave Neighborly a public shout-out and backed it with one of his new VC firm’s first investments.
See a need, fill a need. PayIt founder John Thomson feels your dread of the DMV. So do the company’s investors, who in January offered a cool $4.5 million to help PayIt tackle the grumpy bureaucratic monstrosity. PayIt keeps citizens out of DMV and other government queues by moving payment processes online.
Metaphors make for memorable material. Grant Gooding’s account of why avoiding herd mentality is scientifically difficult — but absolutely necessary for a bustling business. This sage advice, Gooding writes, results in more profitable companies and lucrative exits.
Shared knowledge is the key to success. This belief is at the heart of The Collective Funds’ plan for its $10 million fund that will go exclusively to local startups. The early-stage fund will tap a wealth of business acumen through its collective of accredited and non-accredited investors. Does anyone else think this is strangely evocative of Star Trek’s Borg Collective?
Sometimes it’s just a confluence of awesome. A former Mizzou football player created a local startup that developed cool, new fitness tech that was then featured — along with its founder — on a Spike TV reality show. Enough said.
People really like lists. In January, we decided to compile the wealth of information that comes across our desk into a list of Kansas City startups we think are worth tracking. You gobbled it up and made it our most-shared story ever.
Bigger is better. At least, that’s apparently what readers think when it comes to coworking spaces. The Westport Commons project — which will revitalize and repurpose 360,000 square feet of the previously-vacant Westport middle and high schools into a coworking studio — will create a huge new hub for area entrepreneurs.
Everyone loves a momma’s boy. That and other charming insights into the mind of one of Kansas City’s most successful entrepreneurs made this one of our favorite — but lesser-read — stories when published in October. That is, until someone from H&R’s corporate headquarters saw it months later, loved it, and emailed it to the company’s 80,000-plus employees.