LaunchKC announces selection of 20 grants finalists

KANSAS CITY, MO – Sept. 2, 2015 – LaunchKC announced today its selection of 20 tech entrepreneurs who will be in Kansas City in two weeks to compete for $500,000 in grants, and a leg up in building their businesses here. The finalists were selected from a pool of nearly 500 grant applicants.

The 20 contenders include 12 from the Kansas City area; seven from seven U.S. states; and one from Santiago, Chile. Each will be in Kansas City in mid-September to compete for 10 startup grants, during the Techweek KC conference + festival from Sept. 14-20.

“We were looking for the best and brightest to compete in the LaunchKC grants competition. We were very fortunate to have outstanding applicants who exceeded even our high expectations,” said Drew Solomon, vice president of business and job development at the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri and manager of the LaunchKC grants competition.

LaunchKC is a global grants competition designed to attract tech entrepreneurs to compete for one of 10 (ten) $50,000 grants and the opportunity to build their new and emerging tech businesses in Kansas City, Missouri.

This announcement marks the culmination of weeks of application reviews and scoring by a panel of more than 20 local business and financial leaders, who volunteered their time to thoughtfully narrow the field from nearly 500 applicants from 17 states and eight nations to the 20 finalists announced today.

“This was a rewarding but strenuous process for the selection committee,” said Solomon, “and we are very grateful for the time and deliberation they gave to the responsibility.”

The 20 finalists (alphabetically, by company name and team leader) for the Launch KC grants competition include:

  • Alcohoot: Christopher Ayala, New York, N.Y.
  • Appbase: Siddharth Kothari, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Blooom: Chris Costello, Overland Park, Kan.
  • CBG Technologies: Ben Rao, Lee’s Summit, Mo.
  • Edge Up Sports: Ilya Tabakh, Kansas City, Mo.
  • HealthID: Angelo Pitassi Jr., Cranston, R.I.
  • Integrated Roadways: Tim Sylvester, Kansas City, Mo.
  • KC Drone Co.: Casey Adams, Kansas City, Mo.
  • LaborChart: Ben Schultz, Overland Park, Kan.
  • Loadlytics: Rashad Sanders, Boston, Mass.
  • Mobility Designed, LLC: Liliana Younger, Roeland Park, Kan.
  • Nodal Security: Marcus Eagan, Detroit, Mich.
  • Ovatemp: Daniel Graf, Kansas City, Mo.
  • PopBookings: Erika Klotz, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Pycno: Nikita Gulin, Santiago, Chile
  • SkillGravity: Alina Kharina, San Francisco, Calif.
  • SquareOffs: Jeffrey Rohr, Kansas City, Kan.
  • Ulytic: William Martin, Columbia, Mo.
  • Video Fizz: Laura Steward, Kearney, Mo.
  • Virtutecture: Tracy Ford, Lee’s Summit, Mo.

LaunchKC – a critical plank of Mayor Sly James’ economic development platform for the City of Kansas City, Missouri this year – has been gaining momentum for months in the local and national tech space.

“As long as I am around, we will continue to foster our entrepreneurial mindset,” Mayor James said during his State of the City address in March – the same day that LaunchKC began accepting applications for this year’s competition. “With programs like LaunchKC, we can hope there will be another Hallmark Cards, H&R Block or Cerner Corp. to keep Kansas City’s employment picture is very bright.”

LaunchKC is powered by visionary investments and commitments by the Missouri Technology Corporation, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the William T. Kemper Foundation, along with more than 20 civic, corporate and philanthropic sponsors of the first-year initiative, including Burns & McDonnell, The Cordish Companies, DSI, Downtown Council, Economic Development Corporation, Lead Bank, State of Missouri – Department of Economic Development, UMB Bank, J.E. Dunn Construction, DST Systems, Husch Blackwell, Kansas City Power & Light Company, Lathrop & Gage, Polsinelli, LLC and other partners.

In addition to $50,000 grants, the 10 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 KCMO.

“LaunchKC is built to be an economic game-changer in Kansas City, Missouri by supporting start-up businesses, creating jobs, attracting talent, unlocking value and engaging follow-on investors,” said Mike Hurd, marketing officer for LaunchKC and the Downtown Council of Kansas City, Missouri. “Our first class of finalists gets us closer to realizing this vision.”

The LaunchKC initiative was unveiled by Mayor James at the Downtown Council’s Annual Luncheon just eight months ago. LaunchKC will reach its crescendo with final judging and the announcement of the 10 grant recipients at Techweek Kansas City on Friday afternoon, Sept. 18. * @Launch_KC

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