Kansas City’s startup culture and support network helped the City of Fountains land the new U.S. headquarters of Australia-based SavR, said founder Tim O’Shea.
“If you’re a company that’s trying to strive for genuine outcome, then you’ll be very well received [in Kansas City],” he said. “I think Midwestern people tend to ferret out the profit-oriented, the capitalistic, and [those] just trying to suck money out [of you.]”
O’Shea announced the U.S. headquarters news Thursday evening at Startland’s “Investivus for the Rest of Us” Innovation Exchange, which featured a panel of three Fountain City Fintech accelerator founders at nbkc bank.
Check out more photos from the event below. Investivus was sponsored by nbkc and also included an investment panel moderated by Melissa Roberts of the Enterprise Center in Johnson County.
Fintech firm SavR — which boosts savings by utilizing automated round-ups from debit-card transactions — is set to present along the Fountain City Fintech cohort’s five other companies at the accelerator’s inaugural Demo Day Dec. 13 at nbkc. Fellow panelist and cohort member Parker Graham, co-founder of Destiny Wealth, teased more announcements could be in store for the coming event.
“For us, the people [in Kansas City] have been amazing, the startup community really attractive in particular,” he added. “That’s the state government, local government and organizations whose sole goal in life is to help people like us share our vision and mission and to help us grow as an entrepreneur.”
The biggest barriers in entrepreneurship stem from those who do not actively champion for the success of others, said O’Shea.
“As an entrepreneur, if you can find yourself lucky enough to be in a community like we are here in KC, where we’re able to surround ourselves with people who are ambitious and entrepreneurial and positive and want to see you succeed — that can often be one of the biggest determining factors for us to be able to grow,” he said.
SavR was offered a site for its headquarters in a San Francisco coworking space, O’Shea said, noting the culture of the area doesn’t fit the firm’s mission and values.
“There’s almost a culture [in San Francisco] of like, ‘If you don’t have an AI-powered, blockchain-transacting robot that’s going to Mars, the whole idea of what you’re doing doesn’t even really gel with the community,’” said O’Shea.
Working to benefit “the 1 percent” is the harsh reality for companies on that East Coast, he said, while SavR aims to aid the average American’s savings to pave the way for vacations and world travel.
“It makes a whole bunch of sense for us to stick to who we are as people and as a company, and to surround ourselves with people who have the same values and the same kind of mission in life,” said O’Shea.
A partnership with nbkc bank and a solid footing in the community enables SavR to “shout their message from the rooftops” and begin to scale, he said.
“To enable people to travel and to see the places in the world that they’ve always dreamed of in a way that helps them to minimize the amount of debt they get into and to help create a link between mobile technology and what their challenges are as a human — that’s the most rewarding thing we can possibly hope for,” O’Shea added. “KC really delivers us the opportunity to explore all of those things that are valuable to us.”
Participating in the accelerator and its overwhelming benefits overshadows the “absurd” cold in the Midwest, he said.
“This 75-day accelerator [which is nearing its end] is basically like a normal businessperson taking two years of work and compressing it into 75 days, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. “It’s amazing and it’s enriching.”
“It’s just the freaking temperature,” O’Shea added, laughing. “Just send us somewhere warm. We’re a tropical species, we really are. We literally just want to go somewhere warm for a while.”