A new grant program has selected its first five awardees — with 15 more to come in 2022 — aiming to create rolling momentum for Kansas City’s main street businesses, said Miranda Schultz.
The Alchemy Sandbox Program on Friday announced its first quarter grantees with entrepreneurs selected to receive as much as $5,000 for their back office, equipment cost, rental assistance or general system needs. The initiative is directly supported by a recent $350,000 donation from UMB Bank to boost programming at The Porter House KC, which runs Alchemy Sandbox.
“We hope the impact of this program looks, much like, a snowball effect,” said Schultz, program manager at The Porter House KC. “While $5,000 dollars might not seem a lot for some, this funding infusion will allow for these small businesses not only to scale deeper within their own business operations (i.e. additional staff hiring opportunities, new system integrations, and updated equipment (just to name a few), but also deeper into the communities that they serve.”
First quarter grantees include:
- India Wells-Carter, Fresh Factory KC — Social selfie attraction with more than a dozen selfie art rooms.
- Kalia McKinley, OCD Diva & Co. — Organizing, cleaning, and decluttering service for homes.
- Alonzo Wyatt, Monarch Cigars — South Kansas City cigar shop.
- Nicole Smith, His Temple Healthcare — Easy-access telehealth provider for non-emergent and common health issues.
- Marlena Blackman, Shots by Miko: Custom Cocktails & Shots — Full-service bar, bartending services, custom beverage creations, classes, and kits from a team of mixologists, bartenders and bar backs with more than 50 years of combined industry experience and eight plus years in business.
The selection process involved an online application, two-minute video, a “how to” pitch workshop, and a 7-minute pitch to a panel of judges, Alchemy Sandbox organizers detailed.
“We gave each small business owner the opportunity to experience, practice, and ultimately challenge themselves on what it takes to be a small business owner ‘pitching’ for funding — a valid skill for our small business owners to attain long past the Alchemy Sandbox Program,” Schultz said.
Click here to learn more about the Alchemy Sandbox launch.
“At the end of the day, we know that the impact COVID has had, specifically on the small business community, has felt like a never-ending conversation for the folks that we serve,” Schutlz continued. “In response to that present factor, we hope that this Alchemy Sandbox Program will allow these business owners to continue to build and sustain their businesses here within the local community.”
Five founders are expected to be selected for Alchemy Sandbox each quarter, with applications running until November 2022.
All are encouraged to apply, but PHKC Alchemy Sandbox is best positioned to help companies that have been in business at least 12 months, are located in KCMO, have defined business ideas and clear need for the funding support.
Click here to apply to the PHKC Alchemy Sandbox.
Applicants do not need to have previously participated in The Porter House KC, but organizers have encouraged founders seeking out more opportunities and mentoring to look into the programs The Porter House KC offers. The Kansas City entrepreneur support organization not only offers an expanding alumni network, but serves as a stepping stone to additional programming and resources in the metro and region.
Among the Alchemy Sandbox’s first recipients, Wells-Carter and McKinley graduated from The Porter House KC’s small business development program, and Blackman participated in its mentoring program.
“From a PHKC Alumni standpoint, we were so excited to see three out of five business owners who were selected for the funding infusion to be graduates of our programs,” Schultz said. “While our intention was always to provide direct funding infusion to the local community (period), we love seeing our Alumni choose to continue to rock with us and the programs that we’ve developed.”
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.