After a four-year hiatus, LaunchKC, co-founded by The Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, (EDCKC) and Downtown Council (DTC), are back with their signature grants competition. The non-profit’s cornerstone program aims to create a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in KC by providing grants, networking opportunities, and business support to early-stage tech companies.
“We cannot underestimate the power of entrepreneurs who are shaping and growing our great city,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. “LaunchKC is a groundbreaking program, providing resources and support for our hard- working entrepreneurs. Congratulations to these entrepreneurs who are collectively contributing to a brighter future for our community.”
After a nationwide search for innovative and diverse early-stage startups, six finalists have been selected out of roughly 150 applicants, to receive $50,000 grants and access to a host of support services – in exchange for headquartering their business in Kansas City, Missouri for at least one year.
“We were thrilled to see such a high number of diverse applicants this year,” said Tommy Wilson, Director of Business Development for the Downtown Council. “It’s more than we’ve seen in year’s past, so we feel confident we’re doing things right to get the word out both locally and nationally about this great opportunity.”
A panel of reviewers comprised of LaunchKC staff, industry experts, entrepreneurs, past grant recipients, and business leaders, reviewed all applicants and narrowed the pool through three rounds of judging. In the final round, 13 applicants participated in in-person interviews and of those 13, these are the winning companies:
- Bryght Labs: A connected gaming startup led by an experienced team of inventors and product developers. Its mission is to make STEM-focused games more approachable. Its first product is ChessUp.
- Data Appraisal: Unlocking enterprise data’s monetary value – using an automated proprietary approach – to allow companies to monetize their enterprise data assets.
- EB Systems: An industry leader in mobile apps, Bluetooth technology, and proprietary Beacon Reader technology that help to drive the “Internet of Things” industry for a range of industries and clients.
- Invent XYZ: Integrating hands-on, real-world STEM and CS into every core high school course.
- Match Rite: Empowering patients by setting a new standard for how their healthcare information is shared. Through their unified portal, they improve the continuum of care across all healthcare systems.
- SeeInMe: A digital platform intended to ensure those who love, serve, and work with individuals with disabilities can advocate for and relate to them on a personal level.
“We believe LaunchKC can be a catalyst in creating Kansas City’s next major employers,” said Becca Castro, EDCKC Strategic Initiatives Manager. “There’s work to be done to continue strengthening our local entrepreneurial ecosystem and LaunchKC plays a critical role in providing much-needed support to growing early-stage companies.”
The winning companies were revealed at a Demo Day celebration on November 15th to officially kick off the cohort’s year-long programming experience. Each company will receive complimentary office space at Plexpod for the duration of the year.
LaunchKC does not take equity in the companies that the non-profit community benefit organization supports. The six winners join the other 38 companies LaunchKC has funded since the first grants competition held in 2015. Of those companies, 33 are still active, with 61% of those choosing to maintain operations in Kansas City.
Collectively, LaunchKC has served 100 companies that have created more than 300 jobs in Missouri and attracted over $60 million in follow-on capital. In addition, 63% of all companies that have participated in LaunchKC programming are women and/or minority-led.