Editor’s note: New in KC is an ongoing profile series that highlights newly relocated members of the Kansas City startup community, their reasons for a change of scenery, and what they’ve found so far in KC. This series is sponsored by C2FO, a Leawood-based, global financial services company. Click here to read more New in KC profiles.
Kansas City is a community on the rise, said Peter Uritis. And its energy lured the enterprise sales executive and his family from Orange County, California, to the Midwest.
Although Uritis and his wife both grew up in Southern California, they both graduated from the University of Kansas; the couple knew they wanted to come back to the KC area at some point. With two small children and his remote job with ORO Labs, they determined 2023 was the right time — making the move in January.
“We were attracted to Kansas City’s growth and all the amazing things that are happening here as a city,” he explained. “From my standpoint, that makes being part of it really fun.”
“I think it’ll be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” he added.
Uritis — who is in go-to-market sales for ORO, a revolutionary procurement platform headquartered in the San Francisco area — has spent pretty much his whole career in the West Coast startup scene and now he’s getting the opportunity to observe the Kansas City ecosystem.
“It is very much like ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ mentality,” he said. “Everyone’s been welcoming: ‘How do we help? What can we do? We all work together.’”
He noted that the city has a solid tech foundation, especially with healthcare technology powerhouse Cerner — now Oracle Cerner — headquartered in the metro for so many years.
“I would love for Kansas City to be a technology hub, in the same way I think Austin, Nashville, and Denver have become that outside of Silicon Valley,” he explained. “I think Kansas City’s technology scene is on the right track. The KC Tech Council — the amazing work that they’re doing — they’re really trying to drive new job growth and improve that sector in the city. And I think there’s some really great venture capitalists here that are really trying to invest in this area.”
The area has some cool, innovative companies, Uritis continued, making progress in AI and Web3 tech.
“They are going to be incredibly impactful companies,” he said. “It’s great to see them growing. Some of that technology — that I consider at the forefront — is starting here and those seeds are being planted because that will also give other people inspiration or places to go work.”
He emphasized conversations about how it’s important for Kansas City to hold on to KU and University of Missouri Kansas City computer science and entrepreneurship talent instead of letting graduating students serve a farm system for Silicon Valley.
“If the Kansas City technology environment continues to grow, hopefully we can just retain some of that talent, rather than having everyone ship off,” he added.
Another area Uritis noted the KC startup ecosystem can improve: embracing failure.
“Silicon Valley is based on the premise that you can fail and that’s OK,” he said. “I don’t know if that is baked into Kansas City yet. I think it’s healthy to have some huge successes and big flops and the innovation that comes out of that. It’s very, very healthy from a startup mentality. It’s like, ‘Hey, let’s go try this thing. And if it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve built new skill sets, met new people, and we’re going to do way better than next time.’”
Overall, Uritis shared, he and his family are enjoying their new home city and the connections they are making. From their time in Lawrence, he and his wife had spent a few dates nights in KC and had come back several times to visit friends. So they knew to expect a cool place with a lot going on.
“My assumptions have been far exceeded,” he shared. “It’s an incredible city. It was really nice coming and immediately the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. And they’re building the first-ever women’s soccer stadium and there’s a new airport that I just got to fly through for the first time. It’s just really incredible to see all the growth and hard work that everyone in the city is putting into trying to make this a great place.”
Click here to connect with Peter on LinkedIn.
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