LaunchKC judges awarded $500,000 in grants to nine tech startup businesses Friday evening, following a months-long competition designed to attract and retain tech entrepreneurs in Kansas City.
The nine winners, including eight from the metropolitan Kansas City area and one from Colorado, were selected Friday afternoon from a pool of 20 finalists. Each of the final 20 presented their business pitches that morning to LaunchKC judges and the Techweek Kansas City audience at the Power & Light District.
Grant winners were announced Friday evening at a special LaunchKC / Techweek Kansas City awards ceremony at the nearby Power and Light Building.
Cambrian Tech, Leawood, Kan., was chosen as the first $100,000 grand prize recipient in LaunchKC history. Cambrian designs augmented reality software for mobile devices. Its winning business model is focused on the home improvement industry and becoming the mobile destination for DIYers.
Another $400,000 was awarded in $50,000 parcels to eight entrepreneurs, including:
- H3 Enterprises, Kansas City, Mo.
- Herd Dogg, Longmont, Colo.
- iShare Medical, Kansas City, Mo.
- Music Spoke, Kansas City, Kan.
- PlanIT Impact, Kansas City, Mo.
- Sickweather, Kansas City, Mo.
- TradeLanes, Kansas City, Mo.
- Zitches, Kansas City, Mo.
“This was an outstanding competition today. Each of the 20 finalists were strong contenders for LaunchKC’s grants, as well as for building strong, economically successful businesses,” said Drew Solomon, vice president for business development at the EDC and the chair of the LaunchKC competition.
Friday’s announcement marks the culmination of weeks of application reviews and scoring by a panel of more than 35 business and financial leaders, who volunteered their time to thoughtfully narrow the field from 400 applicants from 19 states and five nations to the 20 finalists who competed on Friday.
“LaunchKC has attracted nearly 1,500 applications from throughout the nation and the world during our first three years of competition with tech entrepreneurs,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council. “This evening’s awards mean that we have reached $1.5 million mark in awards in just three years.”
Friday’s announcement marks the culmination of weeks of application reviews and scoring by a panel of more than 35 business and financial leaders, who volunteered their time to thoughtfully narrow the field from 400 applicants from 19 states and five nations to the 20 finalists who competed on the final day of the Techweek KC conference.
In addition to cash grants, the nine winning applicants will receive a network of support, including 12 months of free office space in Downtown KC; industry-specific mentor teams for each grant recipient; and opportunities to meet and learn from industry and entrepreneurial leaders in and around Kansas City – all designed to elevate their efforts to build high-growth, tech sector businesses and jobs in Downtown Kansas City.
“LaunchKC is built to be an economic game-changer in Kansas City, Missouri by supporting start-up businesses, creating jobs, attracting and retaining talent, unlocking value and engaging follow-on investors,” Hurd said.
The program is fueled each year by the visionary support of corporate, public and philanthropic partners. For 2017, the sponsor honor roll includes:
Supporters: Missouri Technology Corporation; the City of Kansas City, Missouri
Visionaries: Husch Blackwell; KCP&L; The Cordish Companies / Kansas City Power & Light District; William T. Kemper Foundation; Techweek; UMB Bank; Downtown Council of Kansas City; Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City
Contributing: Burns & McDonnell; Lathrop & Gage: Lead Bank; Missouri Department of Economic Development; Polsinelli; Spring Venture Group
Emerging: Allied Global; J.E. Dunn Construction; Google Fiber
Friends: Adknowledge; ITEN; LightEdge Solutions
Supporters: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center; Regnier Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurships; Think Big Partners; and the UMKC Bloch School of Business.