See How Digital Sandbox KC Companies Scaled as the Program Grew in 2018
Digital Sandbox KC is where ideas take shape. For many startups, innovators and disrupters, it's the starting point in the Kansas City region, providing that critical step and project funding that turns viable ideas into scalable innovations.
Of the 108 projects funded, 76—that’s 70 percent—have secured more than $68 million in follow-on funding, a testament to the strength of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial spirit and the magnetic appeal of the entrepreneurs’ ideas.
And that’s not all, companies in the portfolio have created more than 617 jobs with more than $19 million in payroll and a collective $55.9 million in sales since the Sandbox’s inception.
Established in 2013, Digital Sandbox KC is a proof-of-concept program out of the UMKC Innovation Center that spurs the creation and commercialization of high-growth companies through project-based grants up to $25,000.
With total project funding of $2 million provided to 108 early-stage startups in the Kansas City metro region, the Sandbox has helped launch 64 new companies, 132 new products, 70 patent applications and 24 awarded patents.
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“If we’re going to create jobs and grow our local economy, everyone needs to pitch in—universities, corporations, service providers, civic leaders, entrepreneurs. Digital Sandbox KC brings all those vital players together to create more startups who in turn create more jobs,” said Mayor Sly James of Kansas City, Missouri in the Sandbox's 2018 report.
Here’s a deeper look at the companies’ makeup and success:
See the full Digital Sandbox 2018 Annual Report.
In 2018, the Sandbox expanded into new areas and markets through partnerships with the cities of Olathe, Kansas; Independence, Missouri; and St. Joseph, Missouri. With support from GXP Investments and Cobalt Ventures, it launched the Energy Sandbox in 2016.
Updates on Sandbox companies
In less than six years, Digital Sandbox has done a tremendous amount to kick-start area companies. Here are a few highlights on how some of the program's companies have scaled or exited:
DivvyHQ was the first startup to receive an investment from Novel Growth Partners – a revenue-based funding firm in Kansas City. Recipients of two top awards from the Content Marketing Institute, DivvyHQ is a leading content-planning and production workflow tool with customers around the world. In 2018, DivvyHQ partnered with translation tech firm SDL to deliver marketing content across any device, channel and language.
FastDemocracy has launched a professional version of its online platform, including advanced analytics and tools for tracking legislative topics, bills and voting records. A nonpartisan platform, FastDemocracy is a one-of-a-kind legislative analytics database that allows advocates and government relations professionals to connect with legislators in real time. The govtech startup was a lead winner at the Pure Pitch Rally competition during Techweek KC and received a $7,000 investment for platform upgrades.
TicketRX is a one-touch system that helps drivers connect with attorneys to resolve traffic violations. After receiving $2,000 in investments and $100,000 in cloud-based support from Amazon Web Services at the 2017 Pure Pitch Rally, TicketRX added a chatbot function and ticket resolution portal, making the mobile app a quick and convenient solution for commercial truck drivers.
Welltodo LLC was acquired by Charlotte, North Carolina-based SensorRx for an undisclosed cash and stock deal. Funding from Digital Sandbox KC helped Welltodo develop the migraine tracking and management app Migraine Coach and provided a scholarship for Welltodo to participate in the Kauffman FastTrac® program. Migraine Coach quickly became a leading product in the digital health industry and brings valuable IP and a significant active user base for SensorRx.
Get your business into the Sandbox
Digital Sandbox KC accepts applications on a rolling basis at their website. Many concepts that eventually received funding didn't get it the first time around, so don't hesitate to get your idea out there to start receiving feedback and guidance.
To help prepare for your pitch,check this out:
If you want to find out when the next "How to Pitch to the Sandbox" event is, subscribe to the KCSourceLink newsletter. Plus, it's a great way to keep up with KC’s entrepreneurial community.
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