Kansas City’s premiere grants competition returns in mere weeks with six $50,000 grants on the line, said Becca Castro, and more than dozen startup founders are being interviewed this week to help determine the winners.
LaunchKC — a partnership between the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Downtown Council — plans to announce the six winners at its Libations + Liftoff event Nov. 14 at J. Rieger & Co. distillery during Global Entrepreneurship Week-Kansas City.
“The applicant pool was very strong, and we were so pleased to see a diverse group including many female tech founders (eight of the 13 finalists),” said Castro, strategic initiatives manager at EDCKC. “We credit that to recruiting a diverse set of mentors, partners, and selection committee members as well as searching for founders that are considering DEIB in the design of their product/service, organizational culture, and hiring practices.”
A selection committee of 40 volunteers recently narrowed more than 90 applicants to 13 finalists. These remaining contenders are expected to participate in face-to-face interviews this week to determine the six companies ultimately receiving grants.
LaunchKC winners receive $50,000 in non-dilutive grant funding, office space in downtown Kansas City for a year, customized educational programming, mentorship, and other perks throughout 2024.
Click here to register for the Nov. 14 Libations + Liftoff grant-winner reveal event.
The 13 finalists include:
- CodeAlgo Academy (Triumfia Houmbie Fulks), Kansas City, Missouri — A 3D Computer Science gaming platform that teaches K-8 students how to code, making learning fun and tailored.
- Foresight (Jannae Gammage), Kansas City, Missouri — Tech platform featuring an AI-powered lending assistant specially trained to streamline administrative work across the lending cycle, including evaluation, eligibility and document verification, macro and micro economic data and more.
- Interplay (Jonaie Johnson), Kansas City, Missouri — Smart dog crate that allows owners to play music, talk to, and feed their pets while they’re away.
- Lotus TMS (Holly Andra Small, Neelima Parasker), Overland Park, Kansas — Easy to use, cloud-based Transportation Management Software created for draymen by draymen. With customizable tables, tags, permissions, and users, and an easy, flexible interface anyone can learn to use, Lotus TMS streamlines and transforms trucking operations.
- Marma (Meredith Evans McAllister, Victoria Weber), Kansas City, Missouri — The single source of evidence-based and OB-GYN-approved nutrition information during the birthing years in a mobile app.
- NurseBridge (Patience Gitau), Tulsa, Oklahoma — Medical staffing innovation bridging the gap between qualified medical professionals and success-driven healthcare systems through a tech-enabled staffing platform.
- Raven Space Systems, (Blake Herren, Ryan Cowdrey), Kansas City, Kansas — Creating the first entirely 3D printed reentry capsules for affordable and accessible return of cargo from space.
- Redpoint Summit, (Chuck Schneider), Kansas City, Missouri — AI-infused electronic health record platform on a mission to improve the lives of providers by reducing clinician burnout.
- SaRA Health (Steven Coen), Kansas City, Missouri — “Stress-free” and “simple” platform turns Practice leaders and owners into heroes for their providers and patients while improving the viability of their businesses.
- TealHouse (Jaqui McCarthy), Kansas City, Missouri — An innovation engine for the fashion industry, TealHouse specializes in the development of plant-based consumer products.
- The Matrescence (Lauren Hays, Megan Dalton), Prairie Village, Kansas — A digital app and brand dedicated to advocating and innovating in the field of maternal mental health.
- VRdojo (Michael Eichenseer), Kansas City, Missouri — Massive multiplayer virtual worlds where players aren’t split up by forced instancing or play styles.
Winning companies must be located in Kansas City, Missouri, or be willing to relocate to KCMO.
Selection emphasis will be placed on tech companies with high-growth potential that prioritize equitable business practices and see Kansas City as an ideal home for their business, organizers said.
“We understand the power of local companies and believe that every startup has the potential to be the next big economic engine, job creator or KC headquarters,” Jim Erickson, director of strategic initiatives for EDCKC, said previously.
Click here to learn more about the LaunchKC grants program.
Since the first grants competition in 2015, LaunchKC has supported more than 100 companies and collectively, those companies have attracted more $420 million in follow-on capital and created nearly 1,000 jobs, organizers said, noting more than two-thirds of companies who have participated in LaunchKC programming are women and/or minority-led.