Already with a lasting legacy of growing the area entrepreneurial ecosystem, Digital Sandbox KC has received significant support that should fuel its program for years to come.
The proof-of-concept incubator was recently awarded a combined $950,000 — $450,000 from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and $500,000 from the Missouri Technology Corporation.
The two grants will help the organization’s efforts to award funding to promising startups in the Kansas City area, said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC.
“We’ve found that the Sandbox fills a critical gap for early-stage companies in Kansas City,” Shackelford said. “Support from the Kauffman Foundation, MTC and the surrounding communities allows us to continue to significantly increase the volume of high-growth potential startups, who in turn create more new jobs in the region.”
Launched in 2013, Digital Sandbox offers up to $20,000 in grants to startups with a focus of bringing a product from idea to commercialization. The organization has worked with more than 500 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the Kansas City metro.
Digital Sandbox has helped to make a significant economic impact in Kansas City via its support of dozens of startups. Since its launch about five years ago, Digital Sandbox has issued $1.9 million in project funding to 100 early-state firms that have created 585 new jobs with more than $14 million in payroll, according to the organization. The startups also have gone on to raise more than $50 million in follow-on funding.
“Our success is a direct result of the quality and quantity of entrepreneurs in Kansas City,” said Shackelford. “By capping the Sandbox project size at $20,000 we can support even more early-stage ideas and keep the program’s momentum growing.”
The incubator’s impact has been vital to spur growth in Kansas City, said Erin Jenkins, program officer at the Kauffman Foundation.
“Digital Sandbox KC plays a pivotal role in the Kansas City entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Jenkins said. “Working together creates an excellent opportunity to reduce barriers for early-stage companies.”
Since 2016, Digital Sandbox has established partnerships with GXP Investments, the City of Independence, St. Joseph, Missouri and Olathe, Kansas, to launch proof-of-concept incubator programs.