A dozen Kansas City tech entrepreneurs are set to compete next month against a mix of firms from across the country — and one startup from Israel — in arguably the city’s most elite and hotly anticipated pitch event of the year.
LaunchKC announced its 20 finalists Tuesday — each vying for their piece of $500,000 in non-dilutive grants and the opportunity to build their new and emerging tech businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.
The premier event arrives Oct. 12 at Union Station during LaunchKC Pitch Day on the final day of the Techweek Kansas City conference.
Among the locally-based competitors are such newsmakers as: Boddle Learning, an ed tech firm that pivoted its gamified platform earlier this year; Bungii, a truck-sharing app that has expanded to Atlanta and Washington DC; Case Helper, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) communication platform for tort plaintiff lawyers that recently entered the Digital Sandbox KC; Just Play Sports Solutions, a fast-growing sports workflow management platform led by a 2017 Pipeline entrepreneur; MindSport, a mindfulness app whose athlete-turned-founder is releasing a book, “Buddha was a Baller”; SaRA Health, a transplant from Los Angeles that recently was selected for the 2018 Techstars Kansas City class; and Venture360, an investment tracking and coordination platform that was named one of Startland’s Under the Radar Startups in 2017.
Out-of-state entrants AgVoice and Ripe.io are both alumni of the Kansas City-based Sprint Accelerator.
“It was a robust year for applications and strong applicants,” said Drew Solomon, senior vice president of business and job development for the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, and competition chair for LaunchKC. “We are continually searching for the best and brightest startups or early stage tech businesses. We want to help these entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true in Kansas City.”
The full list of finalists includes:
- AgVoice — Atlanta (ag tech)
- Bluepoint2 — Leawood (health tech)
- Boddle Learning — Kansas City (ed tech)
- Bungii — Overland Park (mobile technology)
- Case Helper — Kansas City (cloud services)
- Digs — Chicago (fintech)
- Erkios Systems — Kansas City (network security)
- Just Play Sports Solutions — Lawrence (cloud services)
- Listing, LLC — Kansas City (real estate tech)
- MindSport — Overland Park (health tech)
- Motega Health — Lawrence (health tech)
- OpenCities — Kansas City (cloud services)
- PlaBook — Kansas City (ed tech)
- Project Ray — Yokneam, Israel (mobile technology)
- Realquantum — Overland Park (fintech)
- Ripe.io — San Francisco (ag tech)
- SaRA Health — Kansas City (health tech)
- SmartBridge — Bethesda, Maryland (health tech)
- Strayos — St. Louis (data analytics)
- Venture360 — Lee’s Summit (fintech)
Finalists run the spectrum of tech ventures — from the Windy City startup Digs, which uses a savings tool to help renters become homeowners, to Israeli firm Project Ray, which makes smartphones accessible for the visually impaired.
They were among 586 applicants this year — a 32-percent increase and near record — said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council of Kansas City, which initiated the competition with EDCKC.
“LaunchKC has attracted more than 2,100 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our four years of competitions,” said Hurd. “When we award the next round of grants on Oct. 12, we will reach the $2 million mark in awards.”
In addition to cash grants, finalists are competing for a network of business startup support, including industry-specific mentor teams for each grant recipient and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders in and around Kansas City — all designed to elevate their efforts to build high-growth, tech sector businesses and jobs in downtown Kansas City, Hurd said.
“LaunchKC is built to be an economic game-changer in Kansas City by supporting startup businesses, creating jobs, attracting talent, unlocking value and engaging follow-on investors,” he said.
LaunchKC is fueled by the support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners, as well as substantial investments from the Missouri Technology Corporation and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.