Editor’s note: KCRise Fund is a financial supporter of Startland, the parent organization of Startland News, and Darcy Howe, founder and managing director of KCRise Fund, sits on the board of the nonprofit, ecosystem-building entity. This report was produced independently by Startland News.
As a leading Kansas City venture firm nears the completion of its second fund, another marquee investor is jumping into the mix — announcing Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) will join the KCRise II effort to fund high-growth, early-stage tech startups in the region.
Blue KC’s investment in KCRise Fund aligns with the not-for-profit healthcare insurance provider’s focus on Kansas City, as well as its interest in innovation that can increase access and affordability of healthcare, said Henri Cournand, CFO at Blue KC.
“Having been in business for more than 85 years, we recognize that investing in the future is imperative to our success and Kansas City’s, and this investment is just another way we are demonstrating we are here for good,” Cournand said.
KCRise Fund II’s growing portfolio includes such top-tier Kansas City startups as backstitch, Bungii, Daupler and TripleBlind, as well as Dallas-based Cariloop.
Click here to check out the full KCRise Fund portfolio family, which also includes BacklotCars — a startup expected to exit later this year in a historic $425 million deal.
Details of the Blue KC investment, including its amount, were not disclosed by Blue KC or KCRise Fund. A projected fund total has not been publicly released, but Fund II is expected to be significantly higher than the $19 million KCRisee Fund I.
Launched in August 2019, the new fund’s investors — in addition to Blue KC — include such corporate leaders as Burns & McDonnell, Evergy, Lockton, Kansas Farm Bureau, H&R Block, McCownGordon, Kansas City University, Foley Equipment, Fidelity Security Life, University of Central Missouri, Academy Bank, Country Club Bank, and JE Dunn.
“Corporations are finding all sorts of ways to bring innovation, and KCRise Fund is proud that we fit into their strategies,” said Darcy Howe, founder and managing director of the fund, emphasizing the validation created by such heavy-hitters placing their faith in the invest-local concept behind KCRise Fund.
Click here to read about H&R Block’s decision to join the fund, which is led by Howe and Ed Frindt, partner.
Blue KC fits well alongside other local corporations, family offices and prominent business leaders that have invested in KCRise Fund II, said Howe.
“Blue KC’s introduction of efforts like Spira Care and its unwavering commitment to transforming care delivery and their member experience showcase their commitment to innovation in our region, and KCRise Fund is proud to partner with this talented team,” she said. “Healthcare and the system which drives it is rapidly changing, and we are fortunate to have leaders like Blue KC working on behalf of our citizens to make the KC region a national leader in healthcare today and for generations to come. Identifying and connecting cutting-edge innovation in our community and around the US, to innovators like Blue KC, KCRise Fund looks forward to being an accretive partner.”