tech startup

A look at what's going on at this week's TechWeek conference in KC. Plus, an encore interview with the CEO of KC-based EyeVerify, which just sold for a lot of money (reportedly $100 million) to Alibaba.

Guests:

Just what is a “Smart City?” 

If you've been paying attention since Google rolled out its first-in-the-country high speed internet in the Kansas City area five years ago,  you're probably familiar with smart city technology.

As the city prepares to roll out the second phase of the project, we wanted to see wanted to see what's happened so far.

What we found  are a lot of questions from  citizens and even the project's promoters.

Downtown: The epicenter

Pexels / CC

Twenty small businesses are finalists for $500,000 in public-private grant money to help the metro area nurture its tech and entrepreneurial environment.

LaunchKC, part of the city's economic development effort, will select 10 of the 20 finalists during Techweek in September.

Agriculture and health technology companies are heavily represented among the winners in the contest - only in it's second year.

National startup activity has been dragging the last few years, but that is starting to change. We’ll learn how the country may finally be breaking free of the effects of the Great Recession. 

Guest:

Dan Verbeck / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City is near the top of a list of cities that are growing advanced industry.

That’s the latest from The Brookings Institution – and good news after a 2014 report found some troubling economic indicators here in the metro.

There are two things a new business can’t do without: a great idea, and money. Lucky for us, Kansas City’s got a vibrant entrepreneurial community, but what about that second piece of the puzzle? We examine the availability and accessibility of start-up capital in the metro.

Guests:

Wikimedia Commons

Kansas City innovators will have an opportunity to develop business ideas in a new program for people who want to change the energy industry.

Digital Sandbox KC is partnering with GXP Investments, an area energy investor. They’re collaborating to create Energy Sandbox, which will help entrepreneurs take ideas, test their feasibility and develop prototypes.

For years, political polling told us who was  likely to vote and how, but the cell phone complicated all that. With fewer people answering — or even owning — land-line numbers, polls became less reliable. A Chicago start-up is changing that tradition, and finding success.

Guest:

KC Social Innovation Center

Three Kansas City startups will receive a combined $59,000 from the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund to expand and develop programs that promote innovation in the classroom.

KC Social Innovation Center, PlanIT Impact and  Pennez were awarded money for using Kansas City’s gigabit internet to create new ways to learn.

Through the centuries, technological advancements, from the tractor to developments in crop chemicals, have revolutionized the way we farm. Now, something new is disrupting the farming industry — and that’s big data. We take a look the new normal in one of America's oldest industries.

Guests:

thecollectivefunds.co

About a year ago, a group of Kansas City entrepreneurs noticed a troubling pattern — they were having the same conversations over and over again with their peers.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

A child care co-op. An eHarmony for high school mentors. An avatar that shows kids how the food they eat affects them.

On Friday, all of these were just ideas. By Sunday night, they’ll be reality.

Entrepreneurs from all over the region gathered this weekend to re-imagine the future of education by developing tools, apps, and educational resources — all in 54 hours.

LaunchKC

Entrepreneurs often say one of the hardest parts of getting a new business off the ground is raising enough capital to stay afloat in the initial lean years. 

Metro-based technology funder LaunchKC hopes to help bridge those early years for several startups with the latest version of a competition that's set to dole out $500,000 in funding this summer. The group began accepting applications for this year's startup grants competition Friday. 

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

When Jim McKelvey started his company Square in St. Louis, he noticed a big problem. 

Every time he would hire a new engineer, he would get an angry phone call from their previous company accusing him of stealing their best programmer. 

"By the time I got the fourth call, it was obvious that the only way we could grow our company was at the expense of other firms in town," McKelvey says.  

As heartbreaking as it was to leave his hometown, McKelvey and his co-founder closed their St. Louis office.

South By Southwest has a reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology and startup trends, and Kansas City had a strong showing at this year's Interactive festival.

Guest:

  • Bobby Burch is the editor-in-chief of Startland News. He attended this year's SXSW Interactive festival. 
Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

The Western Farm Show in Kansas City, Missouri, is a long way from Silicon Valley.

But here in a huge arena, set in what used to be the Kansas City Stockyards, the high-tech future of agriculture is for sale.

Casey Adams and Scott Jackman, co-owners of Fly Ag Tech, have their large yellow and white drone sitting at center stage in their booth at this huge annual trade show.

“It’s got a GPS, so it knows where it’s at, underneath here you’ll see an autopilot, its an onboard computer,” he said.

Frank Morris / KCUR

A technology company called Pramata is branching out to Kansas City.  The company’s office in Kansas City's Crossroads neighborhood will be its only U.S. hub outside of the San Francisco area.

Is ‘Kansas City Nice’ Stifling Innovation?

Feb 4, 2016
Startland

This article was originally published on Startland News.

Let me start off by saying, I love Kansas City.

I love the humility. I love the blue-collar work ethic. I love the hospitality. I love the cost of living. In fact, I couldn’t be more proud to be a Kansas Citian. (I haven’t gone a day since the World Series without wearing at least one article of Royals or Kansas City gear.)

Facebook - Niall

Running into the same old Kansas City-themed gift ideas?

Barbecue Sauce. Sports memorabilia. Plaza gift cards. Boulevard Beer.

All are great gifts to give and receive, but at this point they're a little ... expected.

Instead, you can innovate your gift giving and stuff those stockings with Kansas City-made gadgets and gizmos, while simultaneously letting loved ones know that Kansas City is the place for entrepreneurs and inventors.

Courtest Photo / Blooom

It’s been a big year for Blooom, the Leawood, Kansas, based finance-tech company.

In addition to taking home a $50,000 grant from LaunchKC during Techweek in September, the company has just been crowned the first-ever winner of the "One in a Million" startup competition, presented by the Kauffman Foundation's 1 Million Cups program.

The grand prize — $10,000.

Plexpod

In recent years, Kansas City has emerged as a startup hub. Now, the metro's burgeoning tech community will soon have a centerpiece space in which to do its work. 

The word "failure" generally has negative connotations but in the startup world, failure is considered a good thing. We talk about how it got its positive spin and how Kansas City could do a better job embracing it. 

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Gov. Jay Nixon announced more than $1 million in Missouri Technology Corporation grants for three metro-area businesses Thursday at Kansas City’s first Techweek conference.

“We’re glad that Techweek’s here. It’s just blown the doors off,” Nixon said. “About twice as many as they thought came into town.”

The national technology conference will stop in Kansas City for the next five years, drawn here in part because of Google Fiber and the Cisco Smart City initiative.

“This is the kind of thing to help brand the Kansas City region as a tech startup hub,” Nixon said.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

We live in a time where pretty much anything you need can come right to your door, thanks to technology — that is, if you live in a big city like New York or San Francisco.

Whether it’s driving services like Uber, groceries that come right to your door, on-demand laundry, or someone who will come over in a minute to change a light bulb — the proliferation of these services, available through an app, has created what the start-up world calls “The Convenience Economy.”

But a trend that has exploded in big cities has been slower to arrive in the Kansas City metro.

Blake Miller, Partner & Director of the Accelerator at Think Big Partners in Kansas City attributes part of that to the physical layout of the city.

“A lot of it is our sprawl, we’re 319 square miles of a city. For a lot of these companies to become truly successful it’s [about] density and the clusters of people around it,” Miller told Up To Date host Steve Kraske.

That sprawl, Miller says, has led to a driving culture in the metro.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Many teachers enjoy their summers on a beach or some other far-flung vacation spot. But a small group of Kansas City educators has traded relaxation for innovation. 

The Lean Lab, based at Kansas City's Sprint Accelerator, recently launched its second cohort of "Incubator Fellows". The group of eight--six teachers, one UMKC student, and one tech entrepreneur--will spend four weeks this summer developing solutions to problems they find in Kansas City education. 

1 Minute Candidate

Mere hours are left before the polls open for the Kansas City Missouri, elections — but are you informed about the candidates?

According to one Kansas City entrepreneur, millennial voters aren’t getting the information they need to make an educated vote — and he’s trying to change that with 1MinuteCandidate.co, a company that aims to quickly inform voters about candidates with 60-second videos.

Voter turnout among millennials has been extremely low, especially in municipal elections. According to an analysis of Kansas City election board data by local civic organization mySidewalk, three times more people over the age of 80 voted in the April 9 primaries than people under 30.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City boasts being one of the best cities to launch a startup. But the city that hopes to be America’s “most entrepreneurial city,” is still missing one key ingredient — seed capital to get young businesses of the ground.

KCSourceLink, which is a network of organizations that support the creation of small businesses, released a study last week detailing the city’s shortcomings when it comes to funds available for entrepreneurs.

Among the many challenges that Kansas City entrepreneurs face, access to funding is one of the greatest. On this edition of Up To Date, we discuss efforts underway in Kansas City to create more opportunities for young businesses in the area.    

Guests:

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Kansas City is generating a lot of buzz about its growing startup community. On this edition of Up To Date, we talk with three entrepreneurs who are creating sports technology that could change the way we train and work out in the near future.  

Guests: 

Eleanor Klibanoff / KCUR

If I asked you to imagine the next great tech mind, you might picture a 20-something man in Silicon Valley. But the 20 girls at Coding and Cupcakes at the Sprint Accelerator last Saturday don't have time for gender stereotypes. They've got a website to design. 

Like 8-year-old Kyanne Carlgren, who says she "just maked an account" — her first e-mail account.

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