Five companies each win $50,000 award and the opportunity to demo at SXSW
KC.UP, an initiative of the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City and Opportunity Hub (OHUB), the nation’s leading diversity, equity and inclusion focused future of work, startup entrepreneurship and venture ecosystem building platform are excited to announce the five startups that will be participating in the first cohort of the OHUB.KC Minority Accelerator on Friday, January 24th at OHUB’s monthly 3rd Friday’s Entrepreneurship Series.
As one of the top three initiatives announced by the EDCKC in 2019, the goal of the KC.UP program is similar to LaunchKC, except with a deliberate focus to help minority entrepreneurs gain the skills, learn from successful peers, and establish a national network of support for their high-growth startup businesses. With a requirement of maintaining or establishing a presence in Kansas City, Missouri, the program is designed to attract and retain entrepreneurs who have scalable business concepts that can create jobs and build economic prosperity for the city.
“The response to the program has been outstanding,” says T’Risa McCord, Interim President and CEO of the EDCKC. “The team at Opportunity Hub has been critical in this success. Having launched in Atlanta, and with a national presence, OHUB has now helped us establish Kansas City, Missouri as a leading city in this network.”
The winning founders were among 180 entrepreneurs who applied to OHUB’s entrepreneurship support programming that launched in August 2019, with a full day ideation, design thinking and master class.
From there, 60 founders were admitted into a four-month startup bootcamp. From that class, ten founders were selected to complete the pre-accelerator program by NewMe, an entrepreneurship education program, serving early-stage, under-represented founders.
“This is just the beginning,” says Rodney Sampson, Founder and CEO of OHUB. “The enthusiasm in the community made this one of our most successful launches and we’re excited to say that KC is now on the national stage. Another announcement is coming soon.”
The five high growth startups are the first class, commonly referred to as a cohort, for the program. In March, the cohort will demo their businesses at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX during an event co-hosted by KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas as part of OHUB.SXSW, the largest official diversity, equity and inclusion initiative of SXSW.
Meet The Founders
Founders: Edna Tan, Clarence Tan
Educational games for homework and testing
“Being a part of the Kansas City ecosystem has been instrumental in the growth of Boddle Learning and getting this amazing opportunity to be a part of the OHUB.KC accelerator is pivotal in helping us reach and impact more schools in our community. We are excited for all the programming and looking forward to ways that we can give back”.
Founders: Yulkendy Valdez, Josuel Plasencia
B2B SaaS for building upskilled and connected global teams
“Growing up in the Midwest and being an Afro-Latina from a low-income immigrant family, opportunity hasn’t always come easy. OHUB and the initiative with EDCKC is providing our start-up with the momentum we need to accelerate and scale. I look forward to returning to the region and maintaining a presence in KC as we work to build customer relationships with enterprise companies in the region”.
Founder: Don Ward
Platform that helps hotels streamline inventory and asset management of linens.
“Laundris is extremely grateful to be part of the Kansas City entrepreneur ecosystem. Spending time in the city has exposed our team to the business climate and commitment to inclusive innovation. We look forward to building a presence on the ground, especially as we evaluate future growth opportunities outside of our Austin Texas center of excellence (HQ).”
Founder: Dumarkus Davis
Music education marketplace
“Blessings often come in many forms and are often unexpected. A year ago, if you’d asked us where we’d be as a company, you wouldn’t have heard Kansas City. However, today, we are more excited than ever to join the Kansas City community. We are honored and privileged to be among the selected and we look forward to making a huge impact IN and FOR KC. You all have welcomed us with open arms, and our future is brighter because of this. Thank you!”
Founder: Philip Hickman
Innovative reading technology
“No matter how far away your dreams are, they are possible. I’m just a kid from Kansas City who dared to dream and didn’t give up and my preparation met the opportunity of OHUB & EDCKC and now my dreams are becoming reality.”