CitySmart can’t afford to waste its potential on the waiting game, said CEO and founder Donald Hawkins.
“Entrepreneurship teaches you to be extremely effective with limited time,” Hawkins added, as he anticipated a wave of change that would soon wash over his Kansas City-born startup.
Founded in 2017, CitySmart is a white label, SaaS platform that allows local municipalities, chambers of commerce, or entrepreneurs to setup a complete digital media service with a community focus in a matter of weeks, according to the company.
After being narrowly edged out of the 2018 Techstars KC class, he said, CitySmart was accepted into Quake Capital — an Austin-based seed and early venture capital fund and accelerator program.
As he redirects his entrepreneurial energy down south, Hawkins expects to travel between Austin and Kansas City for the three-month cohort.
“I’ll be back every week to coach my little girls’ Sporting Blue Valley Soccer team,” Hawkins explained. “That’s one thing I won’t sacrifice!”
His family’s blessing firmly secured, Hawkins is confident great things will come of his company’s latest opportunity to innovate its product, he said.
“Austin is currently a Top 3 tech market in the US,” he said as he detailed the inner workings of the Quake Capital accelerator program.
Access to capital and a strong support system are among top incentives the CEO said lure startups to Austin — an entrepreneurial ecosystem he further described as being more mature in resources than Kansas City, but similar to the City of Fountains in a number of ways.
Hawkins plans to spend his time in Austin getting to know potential backers and absorbing as much future-focused feedback as he possibly can, he said.
“As a former athlete, I love critique. I understand that’s how you grow and improve,” he said. “After 12 intensive weeks of mentor meetings, pivots, and hiring, CitySmart will be a force to be reckoned with in small business and community advertising.”
It’s a force already felt on the home front in Kansas City.
CitySmart has neared its $1 million seed goal, Hawkins said, thanks to the support of investors in Austin.
“Raising capital is a grind, but is one of my favorite parts of the process,” he said. “Now that we have first money secured, I plan on pitching more KC-based investors.”
Although Hawkins has no plans to relocate CitySmart to Austin, he admitted he’d consider opening an office in the Lone Star State — should a future need present itself.
With his eyes locked on the future, Hawkins plans to enter the Quake Capital accelerator with an open mind, he said.
“We have some amazing mentors that have been brought on board in the machine learning and design industries that will undoubtedly help take CitySmart to the next level in providing consumers and businesses an effective and user-friendly app.”
Check out Donald Hawkins’ CitySmart presentation earlier this year at 1 Million Cups Kansas City below.