Founders, investors and audience members were treated to a glimpse of their potential futures Thursday night during Startland’s Startups to Watch in 2019 celebration.
The premier event — presented at the Copaken Stage by Kansas City-grown and headquartered H&R Block — showcased 12 companies featured on Startland’s recent list of the most anticipated newsmakers for the coming year. Many of those startups secured spots in the ranking because game-changing funding rounds, partnerships, expansion, and possible exits are anticipated.
“So no pressure to any of you,” joked Darcy Howe, managing director of the KCRise Fund, addressing the assembled founders during an introduction of the rapid-paced evening program. Howe also serves as a board member for the Kansas City Startup Foundation, which powers Startland News.
Click here for the full Startups to Watch in 2019 list.
Founders were spotlighted Thursday in brief on-stage interviews moderated by Austin Barnes, Startland reporter, and Adam Arredondo, KCSF executive director. About 275 community members joined in the celebration, which also was financially supported by Affinity Worldwide and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Life Equals — maker of Balance the Superfood Shot — wasted little time in releasing news, announcing a $2.35 million investment round on stage during co-founder Kyle FitzGerald’s Q&A.
Click here for more about the funding.
Event host Vinoo Vijay, chief marketing officer at H&R Block, hinted that the evening’s corporate partner — founded by brothers Henry W. Bloch and Richard Bloch in 1955 — could serve as an inspiration for the gathered founders of high-growth companies.
“H&R Block is a startup — it just was a startup a long time ago,” he said. “Richard came up with an idea, probably like a lot of you, to do bookkeeping for folks, and then they realized there was actually this other, giant need that wasn’t being fulfilled — and they pivoted. … And here we all are in this great city.”
Check out a photo gallery from Thursday’s celebration below.