Think of BetaBlox like a school for startups. Entrepreneurs apply, some are accepted, and then they go through a program designed to increase the likelihood that they’ll be successful. At the end of the program, they have what’s called a “Demo Day” where they pitch what they’ve been working on to the community. It’s a free event and all whom are 21+ years old are welcome. It’s similar to Shark Tank, but you get to be the Sharks! They will say things like, “we need connections in industry X” or “we need beta testers for our recently launched mobile application.”
Sixteen startups gave their pitch in the most recent demo day event on March 6, 2014, with a standing room only crowd of 300+ people, including many members of the KC Startup Community and their supporters. The event was sponsored by Dizzy Three, the Roasterie’s new air-roasted espresso flavored vodka product. Opening words came from the Founder of the Roasterie, Danny O’Neill, who was quoted saying, ‘The difference between the entrepreneurial community and small businesses is that entrepreneurs don’t quit.”
There were many impressive startups, here are just a few:
Virtutecture: Virtual Reality simulations that help customers envision their design before it is built. Allows people to “walk” throughout the space before construction is started. The recent K-State grad created a simulation for the new Sprint Accelerator building (Powered by Tech Stars).
Ship & Dip: Each month, a box of the best up-and-coming condiments from across the nation will be delivered to your doorstep. That box will include 3 different types of full-size condiments and a menu with a short biography of each producer and condiment.
ElderHair Care: Certified age-friendly mobile salon that puts hair stylist in retirement homes. They are trained to work with the elderly, especially Alzheimer’s patients. They also make their own wigs.
SoapDoh: Natural, gluten-free moldable soap! The Play-doh of soaps. A proud LocalStart.org ‘Made in Kansas City’ business.
Once the startups gave their 4 minute pitches, all the attendees swarmed around the room and tested products, asked the entrepreneurs questions, gave advice and made connections. Many said they felt a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in the room!
Betablox is located in the “caves” (Downtown Underground/Dean Realty Co) making it the most eco-friendly accelerator/incubator in the world (so they claim). The program has a heavy emphasis on early stage startups – meaning, they’ll accept people even if all they have is an idea.
Wes Bergmann runs the recently pivoted “unique long-term incubator/mentorship program” and he says the goal is “to get on founding teams early and help mentor them for years.” Bergmann wrote a ‘love letter’ to the KC Startup Community giving thanks to the Kauffman Foundation, Think Big Partners, Red Nova Labs, and several others.