A year ago, KCSourceLink discovered that area early-stage investors need more connections with each other and the startups they fund.
To that end, the entrepreneurial resource hub on Tuesday rallied an array of major investment groups that target startups in Kansas City, building the foundation of a more connected capital community. In total, 15 local and regional investment firms attended the “We Create Capital” event, serving up their missions, mingling with each other and meeting several Kansas City entrepreneurs.
Maria Meyers, executive director of KCSourceLink, said the event represents early steps in what must be a sustained effort to improve area startups’ access to growth capital. KCSourceLink for years has researched the area’s challenges with access to growth capital, but the community has made significant strides in the last 12 months, Meyers said.
“We’ve made a lot of progress in the last year,” Meyers said. “It’s is a marathon, not a sprint and we’re not done yet. We’ve got a ways to go but what you all have accomplished in the last year has been heartfelt.”
Meyers highlighted several improvements in access to capital in the last 12 months, including a boost in venture and seed capital. In the last year, 20 companies snagged venture capital rounds of $1 million to $10 million — compared to only 17 such deals in 2012. Angel investments in the last year have doubled in Kansas City from $1.4 million to $2.8 million.
Since 2015, several new investment groups sprouted up in or began targeting Kansas City, Meyers said. Those groups are Royal Street Ventures, the Collective Funds, the KCRise fund, Northland Angel Investor Network, iSelect and iiM.
KCSourceLink has served as a leader in an area effort to improve early-stage firms’ access to capital. In addition to researching capital challenges, opportunities and prospective improvements, KCSourceLink is more directly serving as a connector between investors and startups that need funding. The organization offers a “Capital Match” tool for both investors and entrepreneurs to submit information on what they want and need in regard to investments.
Despite the area’s improvements, Meyers stressed the importance of the community continuing to work together to improve the capital landscape.
“We’re not done yet — I can’t say that enough,” she said. “We need to continue to educate investors and continue to talk about what’s going on in the Kansas City region. If we keep up what we’ve done in the last year and keep it going for the next three to five years, you’ll see Kansas City be the place that people come to look for early stage capital. It’s really important that we continue this momentum. If we keep this going, it’s going to be amazing what Kansas City will be able to do.”