Higher headcounts and more than a billion dollars in funds raised. The 2021 Kansas City Venture Capital-Backed Companies Report provides a rare snapshot into the bustling, two-state metro’s growth-stage, venture-backed companies.
The 2021 report — the culmination of a three-month collaboration between UMKC’s Technology Venture Studio and Startland News — reflects not only ongoing deal flow, but resiliency among companies weathering pandemic challenges and capitalizing on new opportunities.
This streaming broadcast features a series of candid interviews with startup founders and venture capital experts, exploring the highs and lows of their fundraising experiences — in and beyond Kansas City. Informed by findings from the 2021 Kansas City VC-Backed Companies Report, this reporting special — presented by Bank of America and supporting sponsors Pipeline, Mylo, C2FO, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation — takes a look at venture trends and offers guidance for startups hoping to raise funding.
This streaming broadcast features a series of candid interviews with startup founders and venture capital experts, exploring the highs and lows of their fundraising experiences — in and beyond Kansas City.
Informed by findings from the 2021 Kansas City VC-Backed Companies Report, this reporting special — presented by Bank of America and supporting sponsors Pipeline, Mylo, C2FO, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation — takes a look at venture trends and offers guidance for startups hoping to raise funding.
Among the year’s biggest data points: which companies aren’t on the list in 2021.
Led by BacklotCars’ exit in late 2020, eight startups — including DisruptOps, Farmobile, Health Outcomes Sciences, RFP360, RiskGenius, Stackify and Zaarly — were eliminated from eligibility because of their merger or acquisition news.
Yet even without them, the total amount of funding for Kansas City companies still hit a record high: $1.09 billion.
“This is a huge milestone,” said Jill Meyer, senior director of UMKC’s Technology Venture Studio, during a roundtable conversation about the report’s findings. “It was about 10 years ago when Google announced they were going to bring Fiber to Kansas City. … And if the typical startup time to exit is roughly seven years, it would make sense that we are hitting numbers like this now. As more companies are moving toward seven, eight years in the marketplace and having some big VC dollars … it’s allowing more people to reach back and bring others along with them.”
Click here for more of the leading takeaways from this report.
Click here to check out an analysis of the 2021 report featuring community experts.
It’s important to note the 2021 Kansas City Venture Capital-Backed Companies Report is not a ranking of companies’ value or worth, but a comprehensive data set of self-reported information from every company that meets the following criteria and responded to our call for data:
- Raised at least $1 million;
- Raised capital from at least one institutional venture investor;
- Raised a round of capital within the past three years (since July 1, 2018);
- Pre-exit; and
- Physically headquartered in the greater Kansas City metro area as defined by the Kansas City Area Development Council.
The report is made possible through financial support from Mylo, a Lockton Company.
Click here to see notable statistics pulled from this year’s data.
Finally, the default order for the list is the KC Growth Index (also explained below the list) which is an effort to create a fair and significant way to order the companies. Not all companies responded to all prompts, resulting in some instances of undisclosed or insufficient data.
NOTE: On desktop or laptop, you can sort by the different columns, click the “expand” icon by each company name for a company summary, and click “view larger version” in the bottom right corner for a sortable, full-screen view. On mobile, click on each company for a company summary.
* New to the list
** Last raised between three and five years ago
*** Last verifiable funding total; Did not receive an update for the 2021 report
Click here to understand how the KC Growth Index is calculated.
- 66 total companies; 11 new companies, 12 companies dropped from the list.
- 46 companies were founded between 2012 and 2017; 12 before and 8 after.
Average company profile:
- $20.88 million raised (up 2 percent from $20.56 million in 2020)
- 45.6 percent raised from Kansas City-area investors (down from 52.9 percent)
- 59.1 employees (up 38 percent from 42.7)
- 192 percent two-year average annual revenue growth (down from 274 percent)
- 7.2 years old (up from 6.1)
Complete list totals:
- $1.09 billion raised (up 15 percent from $946 million in 2020)
- $244 million raised from KC-area investors (up 3 percent from $238 million)
- 2,469 total employees (up 18 percent from 2,093)
- 1,772 Kansas City employees (up 18 percent from 1,502)
- Eight companies were acquired since the 2020 report; BacklotCars, DisruptOps, Farmobile, Health Outcomes Sciences, RFP360, RiskGenius, Stackify, and Zaarly. Two more exits are expected later this year; Cingulate (IPO) and Spear Power Systems (acquisition).
- The eight exited companies have raised a combined $161.2 million, employ 347 employees, and are an average of 8.5 years old.
- Six of the eight exited companies are headquartered in Kansas. BacklotCars and DisruptOps being the Missouri exceptions. Cingulate is in Kansas. Spear Power Systems is in Missouri.
- The eight companies have a total of 19 founders; zero are women and one is a person of color.
- The 10-highest fundraising companies are (in order of funds raised) C2FO, PayIt, Bardavon Health Innovations, Replica, Artio, ShotTracker, Mylo, Torch.AI, Propio Language Services, and MySidewalk.
- These companies account for a combined $758 million in funding (69.9 percent of the total), 1,405 employees (56.6 percent), and are an average of 8.9 years old.
- The 10 companies on average have raised 19 percent from Kansas City-area investors, as compared to a 52 percent average for the rest of the list — indicating companies tend to raise growth capital from outside Kansas City.
- The 10 highest fundraisers have a total of 22 founders; zero are women and three are Black or people of color. Of the 10 CEOs; zero are women and one is a person of color.
New to the list:
- The 11 new companies on the list are Cingulate Therapeutics, eHawk, First Boulevard, InnovaPrep, Makefully, Play-It Health, Propio, Simplifyy, SOFTwarfare, StoneLock, and Torch.AI.
- These companies account for a combined $81.8 million in funding, 247 employees, and are an average of 7.1 years old (5.5 excluding Propio).
- The 11 new companies have a total of 22 founders; four are women and five are Black or people of color. Of the 11 CEOs; three are women and two are Black or people of color.
Missouri vs. Kansas:
- Of the 66 companies on the list, 31 are headquartered in Missouri (28 in Kansas City, MO), and 35 in Kansas (15 in Overland Park, KS).
- Kansas companies have raised more than twice as much capital ($28 million) on average than Missouri companies ($13.8 million).
- Kansas companies average 66 percent more employees than Missouri companies — averaging 72 employees and 44 employees respectively.
- Kansas companies have on average raised 54 percent of their funding from Kansas City-area investors as compared to 37 percent by Missouri companies.
- Founder demographics:
- 131 founders
- 19 women (14.5 percent, down from 15.3 percent in 2020)
- 23 Black or people of color (17.6 percent, up from 12.2 percent in 2020)
- CEO demographics:
- 67 CEOs (*DivvyHQ has co-CEOs)
- 11 women (16.4 percent, same as 2020)
- 10 Black or people of color (14.9 percent, up from 10.4 percent in 2020)
- Of the 55 companies that responded, 47 (85.5 percent) took advantage of COVID-relief funding. 45 received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program specifically.
Click here to see the 2020 Top VC-Backed Companies List.
Explaining the KC Growth Index
Startland, the parent organization of Startland News, established the KC Growth Index for the inaugural VC-Backed Companies list in 2018 to organize the report in a fair and significant way. The evaluation system doesn’t solely prioritize capital raised, but instead creates a more comprehensive snapshot of venture-backed companies in the Kansas City area based on capital raised, number of employees, two-year average annual revenue growth rate and longevity.
The KC Growth Index calculation was tweaked this year, so a company’s score is now comparable year-to-year. It is based on a 27.5-point scale, but a company can exceed 27.5 points. For example, employee count is based on a 10-point scale with 100 employees equating to 10 points. However, if a company has 200 employees, they will be given 20 points.
The index is based on a formula that rates each company based on the self-reported data provided to UMKC’s Tech Venture Studio and Startland News. The index takes into account four data points from each company.
- Total funding raised (10-point scale based on $50 million; in other words, $50 million raised equals 10 points);
- Current number of employees (10-point scale based on 100 employees);
- Two-year average annual revenue growth rate (5-point scale based on a sliding scale in relation to longevity, 1000 percent for two-year-old companies to 100 percent for 10-year old companies); and
- Longevity (2.5-point scale based on 10 years).
Each company’s four category scores are combined to compute their KC Growth Index score.
NOTE: Companies that didn’t disclose certain information received zero points in that particular category.
The 2021 Kansas City Venture Capital-Backed Companies Report is made possible through financial support from Mylo, a Lockton Company.
Mylo is an award-winning digital agency with an AI-powered insurance shopping platform that can be seamlessly embedded into the experiences of a wide range of companies. Customers gain instant access to expert coverage recommendations and ideal solutions from top carriers for business, home, auto, life, health and more. We’re proud to be part of Kansas City’s inspiring community of innovators.