If 2020 proved one thing, it’s that innovation can’t be tamed, Austin Barnes said in announcement of a 2021 return for the hotly anticipated Kansas City Startups to Watch list and the debut of a corresponding digital interview special.
“Our team of reporters has been masked up and on the ground since Day 1,” Barnes, programming director at Startland News, said of the nonprofit news outlet and its doubled-down commitment to coverage of Kansas City starters in innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That attitude of support won’t shift as we start to approach our annual coverage of rising local companies — many of which have not only survived the pandemic, but shown great resilience as a result of its challenges.”
Startland News plans to publish its Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021 list in mid-January — an annual effort to call attention to the work of 10 metro companies that the publication’s editors believe hold strong newsmaking potential over the coming 12 months.
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The annual list is generated after a massive cull of companies and consultations with area investment minds and leaders in entrepreneurship support circles.
Click here for a look back at Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2020 — which featured such companies as Tesseract Ventures and Stenovate.
“The Kansas City Startups to Watch list has become a valuable tool for investors and program managers — especially those outside Kansas City — as they start to take a closer look at what’s being built here in the plains states,” Barnes said.
“Our team sifted through a massive list of contenders for the 2021 list and we’re excited to publish the piece at a time when founders need our support more than they ever have before.”
What won’t look the same in 2021 is Startland News’ vehicle for celebrating the companies on its list — typically in the form of a high-end networking reception that concludes with an on-stage presentation of companies.
“We didn’t want to drop the ball on celebrating the work of our Startups to Watch class of 2021,” Barnes said, adding an in-depth interview special is expected to premiere online Jan. 27.
The hour-long special report will see the entire Startland News team — rounded out by Tommy Felts, news director; and Channa Steinmetz, reporter — come together with founders for a closed-set, socially distant series of one-on-one conversations about their companies and the year ahead.
Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021 will be produced by Stellar Image Studios and presented in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Plexpod.
Click here for tickets to the online premiere of Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2021.
“We spent much of 2020 putting our heads together on ways to move the celebration forward,” Barnes said. “Reimagining it as a digital interview special — which we think will offer a more intimate, in-depth look at what these startups are doing — has been a surprisingly fresh take on something that’s become an annual staple in Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community.”
Additional programming opportunities for 2021 are also in the works at Startland News, with the publication actively evaluating an evolving digital media landscape and taking a closer look at the needs of media consumers — especially in the pandemic-era, Barnes explained.
“2021 marks our sixth year as a digital newsroom,” he said. “Kansas City has changed, our audience has changed, and our team has changed. There are some really exciting opportunities to better connect our coverage across platforms and we’re excited to share those publicly in the months to come.”
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