How Digital Sandbox KC Is Helping Startups Shape Careers for the Next GenerationDavid Cawthon
Missouri is one of the top five states in emerging tech job growth, according to a 2018 report from the KC Tech Council. But Kansas City struggles to attract, retain and grow the tech workforce; in 2017, 3,000 jobs went unfilled. But these Digital Sandbox KC companies are facing that challenge head on and tapping into local resources for sourcing and growing skilled talent in the region.
“It is a top priority for our CAPS model to grow tech talent in this region,” says Corey Mohn of Blue Valley CAPS. “Working with companies like Lazser Down provides our students authentic, real-world experience. Sandbox provides an avenue for these connections with local tech startups and gives students a taste of future career possibilities in Kansas City.”
See how these Sandbox companies are pushing innovation in the region and connecting small business owners and students with opportunities in entrepreneurship.
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College Coaching Network aims to make higher ed. more accessible
College Coaching Network used Sandbox funding to develop a scholarship mobile app that enhances the guidance counselor experience. The organization partners with high schools, youth groups and employee benefits programs to offer college and career life coaching with 24/7 training and chat support to help students explore their options.
The organization participated in the TechHire program through the Full Employment Council. The FEC summer internship program covered salaries and technology development training for three student interns at College Coaching Network.
Those TechHire interns helped the organization offer roundtable discussions with counselors, students and parents and did beta testing and user-experience research that led to some product development enhancements. College Coaching Network also hired a TechHire graduate in a full-time partnership coordinator position.
> > > Want to read about more of companies like these and see how Digital Sandbox is helping boost tech in the region? Check out the Sandbox’s latest report.
Grant Company sows seeds for agribusiness jobs
Grant Company is growing its team in St. Joseph, Missouri, thanks to student internship programs at Missouri Western State University and other regional colleges. Eric Grant, the company’s founder, worked with a dozen student interns during his tenure at the American Angus Association. When Eric launched Grant Company in 2017, some of his first hires were interns he’d worked with, including one who’s now the company’s director of technology.
Grant Company, an agribusiness marketing firm, is one of five companies to receive funding through the Sandbox expansion to St. Joseph, Missouri. The company says it offers a unique marketing and advertising model for clients in the KC Animal Health Corridor and across North America and Europe.
With funding from Digital Sandbox KC, Grant Company says it will purchase equipment and software to develop an internship program with colleges and universities in and around St. Joseph to give students real-world experience and opportunities to launch a career in the region.
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Lazser Down helps students move the marker toward success
Lazser Down’s innovative down-marker system uses lasers to display real-time, in-stadium objective down and distance measurements for football teams and their fans. The bright LED markers made an appearance at Big 10 college football games in fall 2018 and at the 2018 Southeastern Conference Equipment Managers Spring Show.
Back here in the KC metro, Lazser Down is illuminating new paths for students. The company partnered with students and corporate mentors through the Blue Valley CAPS program, which provides an entrepreneurial, innovative approach to education that aims to give high school students hands-on experience. Lazser Down worked with students to create a proof of concept and early prototype.
Those students provided just as much of an educational opportunity for Lazser Down. The company worked with different teams of engineering students, who helped develop and manage project benchmarks, and that prepared Lazser Down to oversee the final product development and expedited the patent filing process.
ShotTracker shows KC tech is nothing but net for students
ShotTracker technology tracks real-time basketball performance stats using data that’s captured by on-court and player-worn sensors and beamed to iPads. To date, ShotTracker has raised over $27 million, and in November 2018, it made basketball history. ShotTracker debuted its technology at the NCAA Hall of Fame Classic, giving coaches access to live stats courtside. But it’s made an impact in the KC metro, too.
ShotTracker started its summer internship program in 2014 working with three students. Now, with high-profile partners, like Spalding, and investments from NBA Commissioner David Stern, interns are eager to work with the ShotTracker team.
The internship program draws students from local colleges, like Missouri S&T and the University of Kansas, and out-of-state students from Indiana University and Syracuse University. Student interns usually work with product engineering, basketball tagging and marketing, but ShotTracker also provides opportunities for students with other interests. After a summer internship, one student worked with ShotTracker regularly as a videographer.