After evaluating a lineup of 19 tech startups from across the country, judges awarded eight companies each a $50,000 LaunchKC grant — and one received a grand prize of $100,000.
The popular grants contest awarded the non-dilutive grants following the live pitch competition at Techweek Kansas City. In its third year in the City of Fountains, Techweek is a week-long conference series and expo focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.
The 19 contenders — which beat out more than 400 applicants from across the globe — included 16 finalists from the Kansas City metro, and one each from Central Kansas, Colorado and Washington D.C. More than 35 area business and investment leaders vetted the applications.
In addition to the grants, the nine winning firms receive 12 months of free office space in downtown Kansas City; industry-specific mentor teams and opportunities to meet and learn from entrepreneurial leaders across the metro.
The Missouri Technology Corporation — a primary sponsor of the LaunchKC grant competition — has an uncertain future, yet, the competition is expected to be fully funded through 2018, said Mike Hurd, director of marketing for the Downtown Council of Kansas City, which is an organizer of LaunchKC.
MTC’s budget was cut substantially from nearly $23 million in 2017 to $3.4 million in spending authority for 2018. More recently, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ office released a report suggesting MTC existing programming be replaced with a privately-managed innovation fund.
Here’s more on the winners:
H3 Enterprises: Roy Scott, Kansas City. Missouri
Dubbing themselves as the “Sesame Street of the 21st century,” the education technology company H3 Enterprises brings music, movement and a message. Via a subscription based model, teachers can use one of H3 Enterprises’ thousands of healthy hip-hop tracks for brain breaks in the classroom, as well as curriculum. The products have serviced hundreds of thousands of children.
HerdDogg: Melissa Brandao, Longmont, Colorado
A recent graduate of the 2017 Sprint Accelerator program, the firm developed “smart tags for cows,” which can identify and monitor the health of livestock. HerdDogg has partnered with Dairy Farmers of America, Sprint and Colorado State University.
iShare Medical: Linda VanHorn, Kansas City, Missouri
iShare Medical’s platform streamlines the patient process, keeping medical records all in one place.
MusicSpoke: Jennifer Rosenblatt, Kansas City, Kansas
MusicSpoke is online sheet music marketplace for self-published composers. The company has grown at an average annual rate of about 260 percent and has raised about $120,000 in investment capital to date.
PlanIT Impact: Dominique Davison, Kansas City, Missouri
A software-as-a-service platform that allows engineers and architects to visualize projects with data so they can then measure environmental and financial impact. The firm has worked with the city of Kansas City, Missouri.
Sickweather: Graham Dodge, Kansas City, Missouri
Sickweather’s algorithm scans thousands of social media postings and direct reports from its users to generate illness maps and forecasts, with 91-percent accuracy. A graduate of the 2014 Techstars-led Sprint Accelerator, the firm has partnered with Clorox, Walgreens, CVS and the Weather Channel.
TradeLanes: Vijay Harrell, Kansas City, Missouri
A recent graduate from the 2017 Sprint Accelerator program, TradeLanes’ platform automates global trade focused on agriculture firms, lowering costs and removing days from the supply chain. To date, more than 90,000 cargo units have been shipped using the platform.
Zitches: Bart Patenaude, Kansas City, Missouri
Rivaling the common practices of stitches and staples, Zitches helps heal skin without tissue trauma. The product is adjustable, reversible, flexible, easy to apply — and, patented.
And the grand prize winner is …
Cambrian Tech: Heather Spalding, Leawood, Kansas
Cambrian has created an augmented reality app that enables DIY’ers to visualize home improvement projects, like painting, flooring, countertops and more. The firm offers an Android and iOS app called Home Harmony that provides a representation of a completed project in your home — without spending anything on consultations or installs.
Here’s a gallery of the startups that presented on Friday.