The Fountain Innovation Fund is flowing with Kansas City-based Stenovate selected as the second startup to earn its support, the Enterprise Center in Johnson County announced Wednesday.
“Stenovate is an exciting investment for the Fountain Innovation Fund,” explained Maggie Kenefake, managing director of the fund, which chose to back Stenovate based on the emerging startup’s proven ability to disrupt the legal space.
Created by founder Lauren Lawrence, Stenovate — an online platform for court reporters, scopists, and proofreaders to simplify organization and collaboration — entered 2020 with enormous momentum. The platform is expected to formally launch in February, the ECJC noted.
While financial details of the approved investment weren’t shared, the $5 million fund was announced in June 2018 with the plan to annually — once capitalized — invest $50,000 to $100,000 each in six to 10 early-stage Midwest companies that have proof of concept, but are seeking market validation and their first few paying customers.
“[Stenovate] is positioned to make waves. … Lauren has built a sophisticated solution to support an important component of our legal system,” Kenefake added.
Click here to read more about Stenovate and its track record for securing local investment.
“I look back now to the start of Stenovate’s journey, and I have to laugh,” Lawrence told Startland News. “My goal was never to be an entrepreneur. I just saw a gap in business tools for the legal transcript community, and I knew no one was building the solution…so I had to. We’ve managed to stay incredibly lean financially, but I had no idea how much capital and time it would take, and Fountain’s investment is helping us cross the line to revenue.”
“Stenographers are considered the gold standard for creating high-quality, verbatim records that need to be extremely accurate,” she said in light of the latest investment. “Reporting is undoubtedly a lucrative profession, but the time spent writing on the steno machine is only half the job. Having a system to streamline workflow and simplify collaboration with qualified transcript professionals maximizes a reporter’s workload capacity, which is critical while the demand is so high and supply of skilled stenographers is limited.”
A bi-state economic development initiative designed to help local founders avoid the “valley of death,” the hotly anticipated Fountain Innovation Fund made its first investment in November. That initial support targeted Lelex Prime — a platform that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning, applying social science to provide companies better, unbiased, and on-demand behavioral intelligence about their brand, product and industry.
Click here to read more about the founding of Lelex Prime.
With two investments made in as many months, the fund is actively serving its purpose, noted Sandy Kemper, founder and CEO of C2FO and a donor in the fund.
“[The fund] is filling a vital need for our region and helping to more rapidly move early-stage, high-growth potential companies forward to create new jobs and grow a sustainable, diverse economy for Kansas City,” Kemper said.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.