Editor’s note: Startup Crawl and Startland News are both programs of the Kansas City Startup Foundation, though the content below was produced independently by Startland.
Startup Crawl has a carnival feel to it, said Lauren Conaway, noting the returning event is positioned to help startups collide with people who wouldn’t typically encounter the early-stage businesses.
“[It’s] a one-night tour of startups, innovation, and entrepreneurship in Kansas City,” said Conaway, director of operations for the Kansas City Startup Foundation, which is organizing the crawl. “Each location is going to have a little bit of a theme, like themed food. We’re going to have live music, and we’ll have a signature cocktail at each location.”
The Oct. 5 event is set to feature five stops — Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, LeadBank, Plexpod Crossroads, WeWork, and Zoloz — with startups offering demos, giving out swag and sharing information about their businesses, she said. It notably is timed from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to coincide with October’s First Friday traffic.
The hope is that those revelers already in the Crossroads will see action centered around the Startup Crawl and join in the experience, Conaway said.
“[We also are] asking all of our startups to promote to their networks, their friends, their families, making sure they come out to see them, but also visit all the other startups that are working,” she said. “We are going to have a pretty significant social media push the week before the event, and then really word of mouth throughout the startup community.”
Each location is expected to feature an interactive element, she said. Selfie Boutique, for example, plans to construct a selfie station on the street, where people can take pictures in front of a whimsical background. A virtual reality station also is in the works, and Zoloz will be offering its biometric scanning.
“We still have startup applications coming in and some of the more well-known startups in the area,” Conaway said. “We’ve got DivvyHQ, Mycroft AI, Homebase AI.”
Startup Crawl aims to promote a broad base of startups — not just the innovation-led, high-tech, high-growth companies most associate with the name startup, she said. The goal is to get entrepreneurs and organizations from a variety of industries, with Back to KC serving as a prime example of those showcased at the event, Conaway said.
“So Back to KC is an initiative that seeks to bring Kansas City ex-pats back to town — particularly tech talent; bring families back to the Kansas City area — because you no longer have to go elsewhere to find a really cool startup to work for, or find a really awesome tech job,” she said.
Back to KC wants to correct the perception that a person must to move out to move up, she said, so the organization is having a weekend-long visit and talking to about 30 former Kansas Citians who are interested in potentially moving back to the metro.
It’s just one piece of the equation Oct. 5, Conaway said.
“The Startup Crawl is an anticipated event,” she said. “People who are in the community know what it is and get excited about it, so we have a lot of traction and have a lot of people who come year after year, which is awesome.”