How Kansas City Supports Early-Stage Entrepreneurship

How Kansas City Supports Early Stage Entrepreneurship
We Create KC, our annual report on the state of Kansas City entrepreneurship, is out. This is our fifth report, and this year we are focusing on the six imperatives necessary to grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem and help move Kansas City’s closer to its goal of becoming America’s most entrepreneurial city.

  • connecting resources and maximizing entrepreneurial services

  • telling the story of KC entrepreneurship

  • creating a strong entrepreneurial pipeline

  • building talent

  • engaging the corporate community

  • increasing access to capital.

At the heart of each of these imperatives are brave entrepreneurs stepping up to tackle big problems and chase audacious visions.

The great thing about being a brave entrepreneur in KC is that you’re not alone. Resource Partners in the KCSourceLink network step in to help give lift and momentum to homegrown innovations, helping makers and innovators define markets, develop prototypes, find mentors, secure capital and more.

This year’s report features five of those Resource Partners, each of which specializes in providing support to early-stage  entrepreneurs. Whether you have an old family recipe for cheeseballs that needs to be on the grocery store shelves, or an idea for a tech business that could revolutionize the way goat herders do business, one of your Resource Partners is just waiting to help you launch and move further, faster in your entrepreneurial journey..    

Jim Baxendale, Whiteboard2Boardroom (W2B)

Elevator pitch:
Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and corporations to technologies available for licensing at institutions of higher education, hospitals and corporations in the bi-state region to accelerate the commercialization of technology.

You may need to check out W2B if . . .
You are interested in learning more about the licensable technologies waiting in institutions for entrepreneurs to take them to market.

  • You are a serial entrepreneur or CEO looking for your next innovation-based venture.

  • You are an inventor or innovator looking for a team, business assistance, prototyping assistance or capital.  

Coming up soon:

  • Subscribe to the fee-based TechAlert to stay completely up-to-date about new innovations developed at academic institutions, hospitals, corporations and government laboratories inside and outside the bi-state region.
  • Contact W2B director Jim Baxendale ([email protected]) to learn more about regularly scheduled technology webinar presentations by W2B partner institutions introducing you to the latest and greatest innovations.

Quest Moffat, Project United Knowledge (UK)

Elevator pitch:
ProjectUK provides a 12 week and 9-month comprehensive entrepreneurship program that focuses on nurturing early-stage ideas in Kansas City with a direct focus on women and underestimated founders who have a creative product, service, and or high tech idea that solves a community problems within the urban core.

You may need to go to Project UK if . . .

  • You have a great idea for a business but need help figuring out how to best test your idea in the market.

  • You’ve worked for others for long enough and are ready to explore entrepreneurship with a supportive and encouraging community.  

  • Your hustle has a few customers and you want to sharpen your business skills, like: accounting, business intelligence, marketing and branding, product development and leadership.

Coming up soon:

  • Applications are open for Project UK’s next business validation course cohort now, Learn more and apply here.

  • If you are a business expert looking for a way to give back to Kansas City’s entrepreneurial community, consider becoming a Project UK mentor. Learn more.

Xander Winkel, Ennovation Center

Elevator pitch:
The Ennovation Center, located in Independence, Missouri, is a business incubator and accelerator. General business, technology and food-based startup businesses find entrepreneurial support and an excellent work environment—from a top-shelf coworking space to a commercial kitchen with full amenities.  

You may need to go to the Ennovation Center if . . .

  • You’re a great cook and have always wondered if your treats or feasts are good enough to build a business around.

  • You’re an early-stage tech business owner looking for a new space in Independence, Missouri and a community to help you reach your vision.

  • You’ve been testing out a food-based business from your home kitchen (be it catering or bespoke snacks) and are interested in moving into a larger space to take on larger orders.

Coming up soon:

  • The Ennovation Center team hosts a terrific Facebook Live series called “GoTo Biz Pros” featuring a wide range of experts and topics, from the KCSourceLink Resource Network (hey, that’s us!) to licensing your product.  

  • Early-stage tech businesses in Independence can apply for proof-of-concept funding through Digital Sandbox KC (more details below). If selected, businesses receive in kind support from the Ennovation Center.  

Jill Meyer, Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at UMKC

Elevator pitch:
The UMKC SBTDC staff provides one-on-one counseling sessions and entrepreneurial training to individuals and businesses of all types and stages and assists thousands of entrepreneurs in the Kansas City region each year.

  • You may need to go to the UMKC SBTDC if . . .
    You have an idea for a technology-based solution to a person’s or business’s problem and need help building a product or a business to make your idea a reality.
  • You have always been interested in starting a business, whatever the type, but need help and guidance to get started.
  • You’ve gotten your business off the ground but need a crash course in the fundamentals, like financial statements, social media or winning government contracts.  

Coming up soon:

  • If you live or own a business in Kansas City, Missouri, you may be eligible for a HUGE scholarship to take high impact classes at the UMKC SBTDC. See what business classes are coming up next.

Jeff Shackelford, Digital Sandbox KC

Elevator pitch:
Digital Sandbox KC provides proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes, including access to technology, business and market experts and funding for early-stage market validation, prototyping and beta testing services.

You may need to apply for a Digital Sandbox KC grant if . . .

  • You have an idea for a technology-based business that could scale within a huge market but need funding and support to start building.

  • You own an early-stage business and have a big vision for where your company could be but . . . you need funding to build a piece of technology to help you get there.

  • You run an established business and see an opportunity to create efficiencies within your business model or reach new markets if only you had the technology to make it happen.   

  • Coming up soon:
    Digital Sandbox KC provides proof-of-concept resources for entrepreneurs across Kansas City, with specialty programs in Independence, Missouri, St. Joseph, Missouri, Olathe, Kansas, and business in the energy sector.  
  • The Digital Sandbox KC team hosts regular workshops on “How to Pitch to the Sandbox.” Keep up with the schedule by subscribing to our events newsletter.

Get your Personalized Action Plan now

Still not sure how to get started? Don’t worry, we’re happy to give you one-on-one guidance and help you find your first or next step in your entrepreneurial journey. Drop some info here to get a Personalized Action Plan in your inbox now.


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