Two Kansas City startups recently reigned supreme in UPS’s inagural Midwest X-Port Challenge.
Mobility Designed, a medical device company from Prairie Village, Kan. that is also a 2016 LaunchKC grant finalist, won first place. The startup has garnered international attention thanks a viral video featuring their futuristic crutches.
Mobility Designed CEO Liliana Younger said that the competition was intimidating for her as a young startup and was excited to win.
“I believe they really liked the product and where it came from, the fact that it’s an idea born from a son’s wish to make his dad’s life better, and how awesome that this idea can help so many others with similar needs.”
Over 100 small businesses across Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas and Illinois competed for prizes of credit shipping, legal counsel and research provided by UPS, Dentons and World Trade Center Kansas City. The top ten finalists pitched their product at a demo day to a panel of judges, who looked for global appeal and uniqueness.
Younger said that the win means a lot to the fledgling firm, which also was a recipient of Digital Sandbox KC funding.
“The timing is perfect, as we get ready to start shipping product to customers we’d like to use this award to offset some of the shipping cost for our early customers,” she said. “We don’t know the details of that yet, but we know we’d like to find a way to share our victory with our early adopters.”
The Kansas City-based solar innovation company 17°73° Innovation Co. snagged second place in the competition. The company’s first invention “The Sunshine Box” is a portable solar-charging station that has brought electricity to seven countries.
Conner Hazelrigg, the founder of 17°73° Innovation Co., said that she knew the competition would be fierce, most notably with Mobility Designed.
“It felt good that my company is in close range to Mobility Designed because of all the success they have been having,” Hazelrigg said. “The win will help us gain a deeper level of understanding our worldwide market and figure out some kinks that might occur when expanding globally.”
For first place, Mobility Designed won $10,000 in free international shipping from UPS, $10,000 legal services from Dentons and $5,000 in research services from World Trade Center Kansas City. In Second place, 17°73° Innovation Co. won $2,500 in export shipping, $2,5000 in legal services and $3,000 in research.
Both companies were a part of Whiteboard2Boardroom, an innovation partnership between UMKC, University of Kansas, Johnson County Community College and William Jewell College.