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
Silicon Prairie Awards

Who Rules the Silicon Prairie? You Decide.

Silicon Prairie Awards 2014

Startups and ideas, technologists and designers. Students, investors, service providers, office culture. Who rules the Silicon Prairie? Once again and for the third year running, you get to decide.

Voting is open now and until August 11 for third annual Silicon Prairie Awards (which takes place at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City on Aug. 21). So grab your tickets and claim your chance to crown the startups and ideas that are shaking up the prairie.

Do this.

Get your entrepreneurial city report at iKC on Aug. 21. 
Join KCSourceLink as we unveil Kansas City's e-city report at 4 p.m. on Aug. 21 at the iKC Conference. It's your chance to find out how companies and champions like these are helping make Kansas City America's most entrepreneurial city--and to tell your own story of entrepreneurship.

We don’t mean to play favorites.
But, you know, there it is.

Just to keep you in the loop (and get your cursors pointed in the right direction), here are your Kansas City contenders.

The short list

  • MindMixer (Startup of the Year)
  • Briefcase (New Startup of the Year)
  • Knoda (New Startup of the Year)
  • Blumoo (Best Creation)
  • ShotTracker (Best Creation)
  • Nick Bowden, MindMixer (Executive of the Year)
  • Toby Rush, EyeVerify (Executive of the Year)
  • Adam England, Knoda (Technologist of the Year)
  • Zach Hilbert (Technologist of the Year)
  • Jared Krause, Think Big Partners (Designer of the Year)
  • Kelly Tomlinson, Cremalab (Designer of the Year)
  • Coral (Student Entrepreneur of the Year)
  • OpenAir Equity Partners (Investor of the Year)
  • Dundee Venture Capital (Investor of the Year. Okay, they’re from Omaha, but they’ve invested in several KC startups)
  • Jennifer Wadella (Silicon Prairie Champion)
  • Kevin McGinnis (Silicon Prairie Champion)

Startup of the Year

(filched from Silicon Prairie News’ Meet the Startup of the Year finalists)

MindMixer builds better communities by involving people in things they care about. (Kansas City) 

  • Closed a $4 million Series B round in 2013
  • Moved operations from Omaha to Kansas City
  • Expanding the company to more than 85 employees
  • CEO Nick Bowden spoke about how local governments use data to engage constituents at South by Southwest in March
  • Nomination: "MindMixer was recruited to the Valley, but chose to stay with their Midwestern roots. They've successfully made the transition to KC and are on a hiring spree."
  • Read more: SPN

New Startup of the Year

(cribbed from SPN’s Meet the five New Startup of the Year finalists)

Briefcase provides colleges with a tool that exposes students to all jobs relevant to their individual career paths and gives school administration a way to monitor student experiences and gain valuable insight into their students’ career aspirations through understandable metrics. (Kansas City)

  • SparkLabKC and Digital Sandbox KC alum
  • Seed-round investment from Dundee Venture Capital, Nelnet, Saturday Capital and KC angel investor Jon Bentz
  • Implemented its platform at four colleges
  • Read more: SPN

Knoda is a prediction record book that lets users predict anything, challenge friends, and prove they are always right. (Kansas City)

  • SparkLabKC and Digital Sandbox KC alum
  • Secured a seed-round investment from a local investor in November
  • Teamed with fellow Prairie startup opendorse on a marketing campaign with pro athletes
  • Received a $50K investment from a student group at Mizzou
  • Opened content relationships with several web platforms and newspapers across the country
  • Nomination: "These guys were just another SparkLabKC accelerator company a year ago. Now I hear about them everywhere. Their apps are awesome, and now I'm seeing their predictions embedded within the KC Star and other big websites. They raised money before they launched, and every time I talk to these guys, I come away impressed."
  • Read more: SPN 

Best Creation

(lifted from SPN’s Get to know the five finalists for Best Creation)

Blumoo is a hardware and software combo that lets your mobile devices control all of your home entertainment equipment from anywhere in the house and adds music-streaming capability to existing home audio equipment. (Kansas City) 

  • Exceeded their Indiegogo goal of $30,000 by more than $1,500
  • Works with all iOS and Android devices
  • App is able to control more than 200,000 devices
  • The parent company, Flyover Innovations, plans to create more products for the connected home
  • Read more: SPNHuffington PostTIME magazineTheir list of press

ShotTracker is the first piece of affordable, wearable tech for basketball players who want to improve their shooting, automatically tracking shot attempts, makes and misses. (Overland Park, Kan.)

  • Uses a net sensor, wrist or sleeve sensor and app to compile data about where shots are being taken and whether they go in or not
  • Can compete with others on a team or friends
  • Set daily goals for shots to take
  • Nomination: "This is the coolest technology I've seen in a long time, and they are getting tons of interest from basketball players everywhere. If they make it big, and I think they will, Kansas City will have something huge to be extremely proud of."
  • Read more: SPNTechCrunchFox 4      

Executive of the Year

(shamelessly copied and pasted from Get to know the five finalists for Executive of the Year)

Nick Bowden, MindMixer

  • Successfully led a move from Omaha to Kansas City
  • In the process of hiring dozens more employees and expanded scope in every way
  • Spoke at SXSW in March 
  • Partnered with Code for America
  • Nomination: "Nick is a maestro, masterfully conducting a move to a new city while still growing the company in customers and employees."
  • Read more: TwitterLinkedInSPN

Toby Rush, EyeVerify

  • Landed $6 million from an array of investors, including Sprint, Samsung and a Chinese security firm
  • Won the international Get in the Ring competition for the chance at $1.4 million in investment
  • EyeVerify won an Angel Capital Association award for innovation
  • Nomination: "Keeps calm even when things are rough."
  • Read more: TwitterLinkedInSPN

Technologist of the Year

(downright stolen from SPN’s Get to know the five finalists for Technologist of the Year)

Adam England, Knoda

  • Has helped create groups within Knoda's sphere of predictions
  • Nomination: "They have built out an entire tech stack, including iOS, Android and web apps in the last year. Their service never goes down, and he has hired and built a team of developers from scratch. They use cutting-edge technology and move extremely, extremely quickly. We see them updating their apps all the time, and they are always better than the versions before."
  • Read more: SPNTwitterLinkedInKCBJ

Zach Hilbert, CouponCloud

  • CouponCloud, a SparkLabKC alum, cuts down on the excess processes within the billion-dollar coupon industry. Zach is the lead behind that tech.
  • Nomination: "Zach is a highly talented full-stack engineer who leads the development at CouponCloud. Their platform had been built from the ground up to process billions of coupon transactions annually in a real-time environment through direct integration with retail point of sale systems. The CouponCloud management platform being used by companies like AWG, P&G, Kraft, Kellogg's, General Mills and many more, contains full GS1 databar encoding and decoding capabilities which is an industry first for a coupon management software. Zach reverse engineered the entire GS1 from the ground up and built this functionality into the platform in less than a week. He has experience developing complex security systems and applications for the US Marines and Commerce Bank as well as payment platforms for MultiService Corporation."
  • Read more: SPNTwitterLinkedIn

Designer of the Year

(purposefully plagiarized from Get to know the five finalists for Designer of the Year)

Jared Krause, Think Big Partners
As the creative director for Think Big Partners, Jared leads all design or consults for every startup in the Think Big Portfolio.

  • He designs UX and UI for products as well as logo, app icon and occasional print design.
  • Nomination: "This year alone he has designed for Bodeefit, Moblico,, Alishops and PitchCastr, to name a few. Jared's insight to user experience is his key differentiation to any designer I've ever worked with and he was one of the rare 'unicorn designers' that can actually code his own design."
  • Read more: LinkedInTwitterDribbble

Kelly Tomlinson, Cremalab
Kelly is a UI/UX designer at Cremalab also focused on brand and community engagement. 

  • She is the founder of Coffee & Design, chapter director of Startup Grind Kansas City, and a Kansas City Startup Weekend organizer.
  • Does freelance design for startups
  • Nomination: "She's not just an awesome designer (though she is), she also takes time to convene the entire design community in KC and plug them in to the startup community through Coffee and Design."
  • Read more: LinkedInTwitterDribbble

Student Entrepreneur of the Year

(illicitly harvested from Get to know the five finalists for Student Entrepreneur of the Year)

Coral is a student-led digital agency that provides a nontraditional learning experience in which a team of students from across campus builds solutions for local businesses, startups and organizations. (Lawrence, Kan.)

  • Founded by Stephanie Spicer and Foster Casterline. 
  • A few projects include: a KC startup called U-Hoops, Say Cheez Lawrence (a photo booth company), Greater Kansas City Spinal Cord Injury Association, Information Systems Association at KU (ISAK) and the blog for KU’s business school.
  • Nomination: "They're providing an opportunity for all students to apply themselves in a startup-like environment and get experience working with real clients and learn things outside of normal school work. Students don't traditionally have an environment to work on projects with students from different backgrounds and learn so many different things. It's great for the community, university and the students."
  • Read more: TwitterLinkedInSPN


Investor of the Year

(pinched this from SPN’s Meet the five Investor of the Year finalists)

Dundee Venture Capital
Dundee Venture Capital invests between $50,000 - $500,000 in growth companies with an ecommerce and web services focus. (Omaha)

  • Actually from Omaha, but have invested in Kasnas City companies like Leap.It and Briefcase Other portfolio companies: Cosmic Cart pitched on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, MindMixer moved from Omaha to Kansas City
  • Helped start Interface Web School
  • Read more: SPN 

OpenAir Equity Partners
Open Air Equity Partners invests in the wireless and mobile landscape. (Kansas City)

  • Last July was the sole regional investor out of four—including Peter Thiel's Mithril—that invested a total of $18M in C2FO, which helps companies improve their working capital via cash flow optimization technology systems.
  • Part of another raise for former KC startup AgLocal
  • Read more: SPN

Silicon Prairie Champion

(joyously and unabashedly liberated from SPN’s Meet the six Silicon Prairie Champion finalists)

Jennifer Wadella

  • Web developer at MindMixer
  • Founder of Kansas City Women in Technology, with a mission to interest young girls in technology and inspire career choices through mentoring and workshops, and to create a network of women in technology career paths in the Kansas City area.
  • Organizes CoderDojoKC
  • Created a Coding & Cupcakes in town to encourage mothers and daughters to learn tech skills
  • Nomination: "Jennifer is one of the most active voices for women and girls in the tech community, with a focus on keeping all that potential talent right here."
  • Read more: SPNTwitterLinkedIn

Kevin McGinnis

  • Vice president at Pinsight Media+ at Sprint
  • Brought the Sprint Accelerator community space to the Crossroads
  • Teamed with Techstars to launch a mobile health accelerator
  • Nomination: "The Sprint Accelerator was the center of the KC tech community this year, period."
  • Nomination: "He has been there at every turn for the community. This is really hard work and he just keeps giving more. Not sure how he doesn't collapse! His work with the Accelerator, SPN, Pipeline, as well as serving as a leader in his own company is quite inspiring."
  • Read more: SPNTwitterLinkedIn


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