UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center

Red Nova Labs

We asked each of our Fightin' Four to give us a little peek into their origin story, how they built their brand and how Kansas City can become America's most entrepreneurial city. Here's what Red Nova Labs, the 2014 champs of the Innovation/Tech companies, had to say.

Origin Story

3-innovation-red-nova-labs-battle-of-the-brands-voteRed Nova Labs was founded in 2009 by a small group of incredibly talented individuals, including its current executives, Dan Miller and Robert Zhou. It began as a kind of think-tank in search of useful, new ways to employ modern technologies. A variety of apps and websites emerged from early brainstorming, but it wasn’t until Red Nova Labs hit on self storage that it found its calling.

Since then, the company has dedicated its efforts to introducing better technologies to the storage industry through our well-known industry brand StorageAhead. Its technology offers innovative website designs to help both smaller and larger storage businesses compete with well established brands. It also operates an aggregator site, StorageFront, which helps renters find nearby storage locations.

Red Nova Labs is located in Westwood, Kansas, where it continually strives to give its clients the resources and knowledge to help them succeed.

Outside of your fans and customers, who helped you build your business and overcome your challenges?

There are so many great innovators and entrepreneurs out there that we’ve learned from and looked up to. Paul Graham of Y Combinator has shown us what startups can do and how to do it. Joel Spolsky’s web-based project management platform, Trello, is what we use to keep ourselves at our most efficient. We also look to the innovators of the Kanban method of managing work, which we’ve used with great success in all areas of our company. We try to look at all the systems that are out there, take the best parts from each, and combine them with our style to cultivate a collaborative work environment.

What makes Kansas City a great place to start and grow a business?

There are more startup resources per capita in Kansas City than in any other city in the nation. From the Kauffman Foundation to Startup Village to the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, a new business can turn to so many places for help and support.

It also helps that Kansas City is something of an underdog. We’re not a huge hub of various industries like other U.S. metros, so a company has to do whatever it takes to succeed.

Here in Kansas City, without the extensive nets of existing business infrastructure that companies in other cities have to fall back on and look up to, we must be somewhat naïve about our chances of succeeding – but it’s a naïve optimism that fosters an incredible determination that’s evident in the many businesses throughout the Kansas City area.

What are your favorite Kansas City brands? Who gets it? How are they buzz worthy?

Sporting Kansas City is our favorite Kansas City brand. Everything about what they’ve done since their rebranding in 2010 is top-notch. The stadium in particular is a fantastic element of their brand that works perfectly for their fan base and has helped establish them as one of the best and most successful brands in the area.

While soccer and web design may seem worlds apart, there is much we can learn about developing and maintaining such a unique and engaging brand that enhances the experience of our clients the way theirs enhances the experience of their fans.


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