Techstars Kansas City on Monday announced the location of its new accelerator facility.
Starting July 1, the accelerator group will set up shop on the 5th floor of WeWork Corrigan Station. The 40,000 square foot coworking space is located in the heart of the Crossroads Arts District, piggybacking off of the district’s entrepreneurial momentum.
“If you have seen the space, you would understand why,” said Lesa Mitchell, managing director of Techstars Kansas City. “I have spent a lot of time in the Austin WeWork location. The energy is contagious, the space and amenities are beautiful. While the space isn’t done, I have been to enough other WeWork locations to know what we are getting and it’s exciting.”
A global accelerator and investment firm, Boulder-based Techstars announced that it would launch a new program in Kansas City in October. The firm offers a three-month, mentor-led program that injects $120,000 into its startups in exchange for 6 percent equity. It also hosts a demo day to show off its participating startups to investors after the program concludes.
WeWork and Techstars have a few things in common. In addition to serving entrepreneurs, both organizations are globally focused but have made Kansas City a priority — although the City of Fountains being among the smallest communities they serve.
“What’s awesome about WeWork coming here is that, just like Techstars, they have a core value system that is focused on community building,” Lesa Mitchell, managing director of Techstars Kansas City, previously said.
A Kansas City native, Mitchell’s entrepreneurial network and contact list spans the globe. She said that Kansas City can not only keep up with but also add to Techstars’ global network.
“If we can do it in Boulder, we can do it in Kansas City,” Mitchell said. “I absolutely believe that the opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond is much easier here. And if your company is a rockstar company, the opportunity to attract attention is much easier here.”
Buttressed by Techstars’ network of 28 programs and more than 3,000 mentors, Mitchell said that she’s planning to bring a variety of innovative thinkers to Kansas City for the program.
“During the first four weeks of Techstars we will be bringing a lot of people from out of town into Kansas City to supplement the people that we have here,” she said.
Mitchell said that although Techstars is a community attractor, it is up to the people in the community itself to create stickiness in connections. After many discussions with corporate leaders at Cerner, Hallmark and others, Mitchell is confident that Kansas City will engage with startups she brings to the area.
Those connections will benefit not only the startups but Kansas City as a whole, she said.
“I think Kansas City is viewed as having open doors and allowing outsiders in, and in a way that might be harder in a much bigger city,” Mitchell said. “You don’t have to be a large city to create a startup experience.”
Mitchell emphasized that running a company during the three-month Techstars program is tough. She believes being able to take criticism and feedback is critical to success.
“You will be miserable and you will probably cry,” Mitchell said. “With Techstars, we want to make sure that you are getting x-rayed, in a personal way,” “You’re getting x-rayed in terms of your company, you, your motivations and how you can take advantage of the skills of the people on your team. You need to be prepared for that and embrace it.”