After more than five years, Digital Sandbox KC’s proof-of-concept program continues to see a high volume of quality applicants with a wide range of concepts, said Jeff Shackelford.
Four startups receiving project funding from Digital Sandbox KC were announced Thursday. Two of those awards are in partnership with Innovation Stockyard in St. Joseph, said Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC.
“This quarter’s companies range from a virtual learning platform for kids on the autism spectrum that was developed at the University of Missouri to a St. Joe-based startup making unique cocktail bitters,” he said.
The startups slated for support include:
- Carroll’s Irish Bitters — a St. Joseph-based startup making handcrafted small-batch bitters. In addition to timeless favorites, co-founders Brian Carroll and Christina Hitch are developing new bitters recipes and formulas for bartenders across the region.
- TravelHive — a social travel bookmarking and collaborative planning platform. Travelers can use TravelHive to bookmark inspirations from any website to create and share collaborative travel itineraries.
- iSocial — a virtual learning environment that lets children with autism learn and practice pro-social behavior in a safe, controlled space. iSocial is a research and evidence-based program focused on improving student interactions and was developed in conjunction with the University of Missouri and the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders.
- Grant Company — an entrepreneurial communications and marketing company based in St. Joseph. Established in 2017, Grant Company offers a unique marketing and advertising model for agribusiness clientele in the KC Animal Health Corridor and across North America and Europe.
Carroll’s Irish Bitters and Grant Company received funding from the Sandbox partnership with the Innovation Stockyard in St. Joseph. In addition to up to $15,000 in project development funds, the Innovation Stockyard, located inside the Kit Bond Incubator in St. Joseph, will offer the two startups coworking space for three to six months.
“When we launched Digital Sandbox KC in 2013, we hoped to find 10 high-growth potential companies,” Shackelford said. “Now with more than 100 projects funded and more than $50 million raised in follow-on funding, we’ve proven by supporting early-stage ideas in Kansas City and surrounding local communities like Olathe, St. Joseph and Independence, we can drive new business starts and help create new jobs.”
The Digital Sandbox KC program aims to significantly and rapidly move early-stage entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization. It is a collaboration among private, public, university/research and philanthropic organizations.
The program has now worked with more than 500 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the region, supplying more than $1.9 million in project funding and more than 580 new jobs with more than $14 million in payroll, according to February 2018 impact surveys.