Seven social ventures from Kansas City and beyond are joining the second cohort of LaunchKC’s newest entrepreneur-focused initiative — a program that specifically supports founders working to solve social, racial or environmental problems.
The startups selected for the Social Venture Studio, powered by LaunchKC, were revealed Wednesday afternoon at the Keystone Community Corporation’s event space in the East Crossroads. The Kansas City companies chosen for the program are joined by one Louisville, Kentucky, startup that is focused on agtech and sustainability, and expected to soon relocate to Kansas City.
“Social Venture Studio is a prime example of how we as a city can tackle many societal issues with creative and sustainable business models that also drive job creation and local investment,” said Jim Erickson, director of strategic initiatives for Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri (EDCKC), which operates LaunchKC alongside the Downtown Council.
“We’re thrilled to be supporting each of these founders,” Erickson added.
Selected companies are set to participate in a four-month program receiving professional support, grant awards ranging from $20,000 to $40,000, temporary office space, mentoring and network connections to strengthen their social venture business concepts.
A demo day event in the fall to serve as the program’s culmination, with companies revealing their pitches to potential funders and supporters.
Startups tapped for the 2023 Social Venture Studio cohort include:
- AskSAMIE (Dr. Brandy Archie), Kansas City, Missouri — AskSAMIE is a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone. The company offers a one-stop-shop for all things accessibility with solutions not just for limited mobility, but for issues with incontinence, memory and low vision. Click here to read more about AskSAMIE, one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2023.
- Dreams KC (Catina Taylor), Kansas City, Missouri — Dreams KC is an educational non-profit social enterprise dedicated to eradicating illiteracy.
- FaceKC (Khalid Abdulqaadir and Corey McCartney), Kansas City, Missouri — FaceKC uses film and art to address social issues in Kansas City and beyond.
- New Frontier Mobile Diagnostics (Jeff Blackwood), Kansas City, Missouri — New Frontier Mobile Diagnostics is a company founded to improve access to care and health equity for people in healthcare deserts through diagnostic imaging. New Frontier’s sonographers bring portable imaging equipment to doctor’s offices and clinics, providing patients quality, affordable diagnostic answers for conditions including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and complications during pregnancy. Click here to read more about New Frontiers’ efforts to expand its services to rural and underserved populations.
- Raise Health Innovations (Craig Mason), Kansas City, Missouri — Raise Health Innovations takes leading technologies and applies them in new proactive models to reimagine pathways to better health outcomes.
- SenseGrass (Lalit Gautam), Louisville, Kentucky — SenseGrass offers 360 farming solutions based on cutting edge technology like Nano-Satellite Mapping, Rover Bots and AI-based mobile and web application to make farming more efficient.
- Thrive Homes (Christian Hill and Logan Forbis), Overland Park, Kansas — Thrive Homes is a home modification company that provides ADA-related modifications to those in need, such as the homeless, disabled individuals, and elderly, with funding from Medicaid payers in Kansas and Missouri. Click here to read about Thrive Homes’ early success with Medicaid waivers.
Programming for the Social Venture Studio is led by the Keystone Innovation District, with consulting from Jacqueline Erickson Russell, founder and CEO of Social Impact Advisory Group.
In 2022, the program received the IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Award for work during its inaugural cohort to promote economic equity and inclusion.
The Social Venture Studio is made possible due to the generosity of The Sunderland Foundation, organizers said.