LaunchKC’s cornerstone grants celebration returned Tuesday after a four-year hiatus, awarding six Kansas City startups — from gaming and edtech to IoT and healthcare — with $50,000 each in non-dilutive grants.
“A win for these companies is a win for Kansas City,” said Becca Castro, strategic initiatives manager for the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri (EDCKC), which organizes LaunchKC and its popular grants competition alongside the Downtown Council.
After a nationwide search for innovative and diverse early-stage startups, six award winners were selected out of about 150 applicants to receive grants and access to a host of support services — in exchange for headquartering their business in Kansas City, Missouri, for at least one year.
The winners were revealed Tuesday at J. Rieger and Co. during a Global Entrepreneurship Week – Kansas City mini-pitch and announcement event.
Click here to read more about the 13 finalists for LaunchKC grant funding.
Winners announced Tuesday include:
- Bryght Labs (Jeff Wigh, Adam Roush, Justin Farrell), Olathe, Kansas — A connected gaming startup led by an experienced team of inventors and product developers. Its mission is to make STEM-focused games more approachable. Its first product is ChessUp.
- DataAppraisal (Tam Tran, Roger Ngo), Overland Park, Kansas — Unlocking enterprise data’s monetary value — using an automated proprietary approach — to allow companies to monetize their enterprise data assets.
- EB Systems (Brendan Waters, Jon Ruiz), Kansas City, Missouri — An industry leader in mobile apps, Bluetooth technology, and proprietary Beacon Reader technology that helps to drive the Internet of Things industry for a range of industries and clients.
- Invent XYZ (Nikil Ragav), Kansas City, Missouri — Integrating hands-on, real-world STEM and CS into every core high school course.
- MatchRite (Christopher Jones), Kansas City, Missouri — Empowering patients by setting a new standard for how their healthcare information is shared. Through its unified portal, its technology improves the continuum of care across all healthcare systems.
- SeeInMe (Risa Stein), Lee’s Summit, Missouri — A digital platform intended to ensure those who love, serve, and work with individuals with disabilities can advocate for and relate to them on a personal level.
LaunchKC does not take equity in the companies it supports.
“It’s just so inspirational to listen to our cohort this year,” said Bill Dietrich, president and CEO of the Downtown Council of Kansas City. “For the partnership between the Economic Development Corporation and the Downtown Council, this is the best thing we’ve ever done for small business.”
Since 2015, LaunchKC has delivered three grant competitions and seven industry accelerators supporting 102 companies — counting Tuesday’s six grant winners.
Click here to learn more about LaunchKC, which invests more than $1 million a year in high-growth startups through accelerators, studios, and a signature grants competition.
Of those boosted by LaunchKC programming, 90 percent of companies are still thriving, LaunchKC announced at the event, with more than 1,000 new jobs created.
Its portfolio is more than 60 percent women or minority led, and the 2022 LaunchKC grants competition cohort was 84 percent women or minority led, organizers said.
“That’s really walking the walk,” Dietrich said. “We’re creating an ecosystem here in our city where entrepreneurs and innovative technologies thrive, where diverse companies thrive.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas joined in applauding both the LaunchKC winners and the program’s organizers for their work to reboot the grants competition.
“Local government is incredibly excited about making sure that when we talk about incentives, they’re not just for big real estate buildings — although that’s great too — but that we’re actually building up folks like you: people who are bringing great ideas, great jobs, great opportunities to Kansas City and our entire region all the time,” Lucas said Tuesday.
Check out a photo gallery below from Tuesday’s LaunchKC announcement event. Photos by Tommy Felts and Nikki Overfelt Chifalu.