A round of funding from Digital Sandbox KC comes at a critical time for Bryght Labs — and five other early stage companies — as the AI-enabled gaming startup advances hardware development for its wildly popular, high-tech chess board, said Elliot Wilder.
“Hardware is hard enough — but 2021 has added some unique challenges,” said Wilder, co-founder and chief product officer at Bryght Labs. “Long lead times and limited supply of critical materials presents new risks in getting to market.”
High demand for Bryght Labs’ ChessUp platform deepens the challenge for the Olathe company, which launched in 2020.
Click here to read more about Bryght Labs’ successful $1.7 million-plus crowdfunding campaign to launch the product.
Digital Sandbox KC’s second-quarter application cycle also includes companies building solutions in health care, charitable giving, and beyond. Six recipients were announced Monday after two companies were funded in March. (Funding cohorts from the program often are announced in groups of four.)
What is Digital Sandbox KC? Digital Sandbox KC is a proof-of-concept program that significantly and rapidly moves early-stage entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization. It is a unique collaboration among private, public, university/research and philanthropic organizations.
What is Digital Sandbox KC?
Digital Sandbox KC is a proof-of-concept program that significantly and rapidly moves early-stage entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization. It is a unique collaboration among private, public, university/research and philanthropic organizations.
Specific funding amounts were not immediately disclosed, though startups can each request up to $20,000, according to the program.
Click here to learn more about Digital Sandbox KC.
Monday’s announcement advances the program’s mission to bring innovative ideas in the Kansas City region to life, said Jill Meyer, senior director of the Technology Venture Studio at the UMKC Innovation Center.
“There’s no doubt that great companies can be built in Kansas City,” Meyer said. “What’s often missing is an intentional focus on funding early-stage innovations. We’re grateful to be able to fill that gap and help identify the next generation of entrepreneurs with the potential to make a real impact in Kansas City and beyond.”
The six companies selected for Digitals Sandbox KC funding include:
- B1rdOne (Kansas City, Missouri) — B1rdOne is revolutionizing the way field operations are conducted. Using cutting-edge tools such as drones, augmented reality and real-time communication, B1rdOne is closing the communication gap for first responders and life-saving resources.
- BryghtLabs (Olathe) — BryghtLabs builds AI-injected games – merging entertainment and education into novel hardware products. The startup’s launch product, ChessUp, is the most-funded chess product in crowdfunding history with over 6,000 units pre-ordered.
- Kadogo (Overland Park) — Kadogo helps users turn everyday purchases into charitable donations. The company’s platform makes it simple for everyone to donate their spare change, cashback rewards and more to nonprofits.
- Love Lifesciences (Overland Park) — Love Lifesciences is developing a series of injection safety devices which will improve the patient experience when injection medications are required for care. The injection process is tedious, can induce unnecessary pain and frequently evokes anxiety and fear. MultiPen will allow for a better injection experience, providing patients complete injection control while limiting opportunity for error.
- SaRA Health (Kansas City, Missouri) — SaRA Health provides personalized injury and fall prevention paths through its platform to high-risk populations like first responders and senior citizens. The company’s customers — corporate wellness providers, home health and PT clinics — apply their content directly to patients or provide SaRA Health with their content and mapping, which the company subsequently “codes” into a fully digital patient experience.
- Veeper (Kansas City, Missouri) — Veeper builds personalized loyalty programs for online stores and tracks customers’ shopping habits to apply the optimum discount that gets them to buy more. The company’s MVP saw a 14 percent net increase in 30 launch partners’ average order value.
Click here to read more about Veeper’s plans for your online shopping cart.
Since the program’s inception in 2013, Digital Sandbox KC has provided project development funding for 148 area startups, which has spurred $154 million in total follow-on funding, according to the proof-of-concept program.
“These six companies demonstrate what’s possible when you have a clear understanding of your market — enabling you to develop timely, scalable solutions to everyday problems,” Meyer said. “Our goal is to continue to fund as many early-stage innovations as we can, especially ones developed in response to our current environment — innovations like these are what we need as our economy begins to emerge from the impact of the pandemic.”
The funding cohort includes Techstars Kansas City veteran and LaunchKC alum Steven Coen, CEO of SaRA Health, with a new focus for the company he .
“The Digital Sandbox KC grant is giving us the opportunity to prototype a new gamified telehealth experience that we believe will change the outlook (and reimbursement) for preventative PT services,” Coen said. “We are starting with senior citizens who are still in their homes as we combat the top health risks to seniors (falls and loneliness) and provide a highly profitable revenue stream for PTs, especially those involved in Home Health.”
Click here to apply for Digital Sandbox KC’s third-quarter cycle.