LaunchKC, the hotly anticipated annual pitch contest, capped Techweek Kansas City Friday by awarding a half-million dollars in non-dilutive grant funds to nine winning startups from among 20 finalists. An Atlanta company earned the day’s top prize.
The finalist competitors — who beat out more than 586 applicants for a spot on this year’s stage — included 14 businesses from the greater Kansas City area, five from out of state, and one from Yokneam, Israel. They pitched for a panel of judges Friday morning at Union Station as part of the closing day of Techweek.
Atlanta-based AgVoice — a mobile voice-interaction service that allows food and agriculture professionals to better capture insights and increase workflow productivity, and a June 2017 Sprint Accelerator graduate — took home the $100,000 LaunchKC grand prize, while eight other companies (including six Kansas City area firms) were awarded $50,000 each.
In addition to AgVoice, winners included:
Boddle Learning, Clarence Tan: Kansas City (ed tech) — An educational game gives teachers control of in-game content.
Bungii, Ben Jackson: Overland Park (mobile tech) — A service that provides an app that allows users to get help moving, hauling, and delivering items to wherever need be by connecting users to a local driver and pickup truck.
Digs, Patrick McLoughlin: Chicago (FinTech) — An application, to be officially launched in 2019, that works as a supplementary savings tool to aid a customer’s primary savings bank.
Erkios Systems, Sean Null: Kansas City (network security) — A physical and logical security device that protects company infrastructure from internal hacking and tampering.
Just Play Sports Solutions, Austin Barone: Lawrence (fitness) — A mobile and web app platform specializes in workflow management for footballs, basketball, and lacrosse coaches.
PlaBook: Kansas City (ed tech) — An app dedicated to bridging gaps between reading and media literacy, while enhancing early reader proficiency.
Strayos: St. Louis (data analytics) — Data analytics software designed to maximize operational excellence.
Venture360, Rachael Qualls: Lee’s Summit (FinTech) — A web-based application that makes investing companies easier for users building portfolios.
Drew Solomon’s voice cracked as he addressed the 20 startups before the winners were announced. The senior vice president of business and job development for the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, which organizes LaunchKC alongside the Downtown Council of Kansas City, said all the young companies were worthy of the Kansas City startup and investor communities’ support.
Other LaunchKC competitors included: Bluepoint2, Leawood (health tech); Case Helper, Kansas City (cloud services); MindSport, Overland Park (health tech); Motega Health, Lawrence (health tech); OpenCities, Kansas City (cloud services); 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); and Track, San Francisco (FinTech).
Check out more photos from the LaunchKC festivities below.