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Kansas City tech entrepreneur Josh Lewis speaks on stage

KC's Josh Lewis Lands First Six-Figure Investment for UpDown NightLife: Here's What You Can Learn


After years of pitch meetings, Kansas City tech entrepreneur Josh Lewis says he’s closed his first investment deal.

Josh says he’s snagged a $100,000 investment for his company UpDown NightLife, an entertainment app and website that helps partygoers spot entertainment opportunities via events, stories, partnerships and more.

Josh says although his tech company has received grants, loans and other funding in the past, this is the first investor who’s made a deal with UpDown NightLife. The investor, who’s currently undisclosed, agreed to a 5 percent stake in the company, Josh says.

“This put me in some rooms that are little bigger than I’m used to,” he says. “But I’ve been ready.”

The money will help UpDown NightLife increase marketing and awareness, Josh says, as well as help solve a key issue when he first launched the original version of the app in 2016: After just seven months, over 10,000 downloads crashed the database the app was linked to, he says. That’s when he says he hit pause on the venture.

“I vowed we wouldn’t launch again until we could get an app that could handle everything we wanted to do,” he says.

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Josh says this recent investment will also help prime his company’s iOS and Android app versions for a possible early 2020 launch, as well as build on partnerships, like UpDown NightLife’s current agreement with Coastal Pacific, which distributes Diageo alcoholic beverages.

Josh, a former college basketball player who was drawn to entrepreneurship after his dreams to play in the NBA didn’t pan out, says he’s gained a lot from his pitch meetings the past few years and that it’s changed how he approaches investors.

“When I first walked into the startup world, I had a preconceived notion that investment went a certain way,” he says. “I thought I had to be dressed in a suit and tie; I had to talk a certain way. I did that, and it was OK, I guess, but it never got the deal done. They had to find out who I was and what I was really about. ... That’s when I realized that being yourself is really key.”

But Josh also recognizes that investors want to know about more than just personality. Josh learned real-world lessons from investors he spoke with, like the importance of really knowing his financials and having a solid five-year plan. He says those growing pains in the past and his team helped him refine his app and his approach with investors, which he says eventually helped him land the $100,000 investment.

Josh also credits Kansas City’s entrepreneur ecosystem with his success. He lauds resources, like ELEVATIONLAB TECH VENTURE, which paired him with a business coach and showed him the importance of financials and how to create revenue. And Digital Sandbox KC helped him complete app development and moved him toward launch.

“These organizations are what got me everything,” he says. “And KCSourceLink got me every resource I needed. For anyone who’s just starting out like I did, reaching out to KCSourceLink is the best thing they could ever do.”

And all that experience has helped him take away little nuggets of wisdom that he says are setting up him and his team for more deals down the road.

“Investors had to see what I was about,” he says. “No matter what, they are going to invest in you. Your business can change, and your business plan can change, so that pitch is really 90 percent of who you are.”

> > > > Want to learn how to pitch like Josh? Digital Sandbox KC is offering its Summer in the Sand program, which offers networking and learning opportunities with some of the best minds in the industry. Details here.

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