Digital Sandbox KC Selects 6 Early-Stage Startups for Project Funding
Digital Sandbox KC completed its second-quarter application cycle by offering six new companies project funding, and advancing the program’s mission to bring innovative ideas in the Kansas City region to life.
The latest companies selected for funding are building solutions in health care, charitable giving, AI-enabled games and more. For Bryght Labs co-founder Elliot Wilder, this round of Sandbox funding comes at a critical time in his company’s hardware development process.
“Hardware is hard enough – but 2021 has added some unique challenges,” Wilder said. “Long lead times and limited supply of critical materials presents new risks in getting to market.”
As consumers continue to shop consciously and desire to “do good,” new Digital Sandbox KC company Kadogo presents a unique solution – helping customers turn everyday purchases into charitable donations. The startup’s platform aims to make it simple for everyone to donate spare change by helping connect nonprofits, socially conscious shoppers and merchants.
“There’s no doubt that great companies can be built in Kansas City,” said Jill Meyer, senior director of the Technology Venture Studio at the UMKC Innovation Center. “What’s often missing is an intentional focus on funding early-stage innovations. We’re grateful to be able to fill that gap and help identify the next generation of entrepreneurs with the potential to make a real impact in Kansas City and beyond.”
Since the program’s inception in 2013, the Sandbox has provided project development funding for 148 area startups, which has spurred an astounding $154 million in total follow-on funding.
Digital Sandbox KC is a proof-of-concept program that significantly and rapidly moves early-stage entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization. It is a unique collaboration among private, public, university/research and philanthropic organizations.
“These six companies demonstrate what’s possible when you have a clear understanding of your market—enabling you to develop timely, scalable solutions to everyday problems,” Meyer said. “Our goal is to continue to fund as many early-stage innovations as we can, especially ones developed in response to our current environment – innovations like these are what we need as our economy begins to emerge from the impact of the pandemic.”
Here’s more information on the six latest companies selected for Digital Sandbox KC support:
B1rdOne (Kansas City, MO)
B1rdOne is revolutionizing the way field operations are conducted. Using cutting-edge tools such as drones, augmented reality and real-time communication, B1rdOne is closing the communication gap for first responders and life-saving resources.
“We are honored to be part of the 2021 Digital Sandbox KC cohorts and are excited to use those funds to continue building out our revolutionary tools for asset owners and first responders,” said Christian Stallings, CEO of B1rdOne.
BryghtLabs (Olathe, KS)
BryghtLabs builds AI-injected games – merging entertainment and education into novel hardware products. The startup’s launch product, ChessUp, is the most-funded chess product in crowdfunding history with over 6,000 units pre-ordered.
“The Sandbox funds and network are critical to allowing us to get manufacturing processes started early, but also allows us to tap the extensive network of experts when we hit dead ends and need to find new paths forward,” said BryghtLabs co-founder Elliot Wilder. “Already, we are finding huge benefits from being a part of the cohort.”
Kadogo (Overland Park, KS)
Kadogo helps users turn everyday purchases into charitable donations. The company’s platform makes it simple for everyone to donate their spare change, cashback rewards and more to nonprofits.
“The Digital Sandbox KC grant will assist Kadogo in building out the Card Linking as a Service (CLaaS) platform to help connect nonprofits, socially conscious shoppers and merchants together all on one platform,” said Quest Moffat, founder of Kadogo. “We will use some of the funding to build out Kadogo DoubleUP, our workplace matching tool for Direct Gifts and Donor Matching. Our team is super excited to work on Kadogo and bring it to market to create impact locally and globally.”
Love Lifesciences (Overland Park, KS)
Love Lifesciences is developing a series of injection safety devices which will improve the patient experience when injection medications are required for care. The injection process is tedious, can induce unnecessary pain and frequently evokes anxiety and fear. MultiPen will allow for a better injection experience, providing patients complete injection control while limiting opportunity for error.
“The Digital Sandbox KC award will provide our team not only with funds for a key product development milestone to move us closer towards FDA approval, but it also further provides us an outstanding group of entrepreneurial mentors, peers and contacts that will support and assist us throughout our journey to improve patient care,” said Nick Love, CEO of Love Lifesciences.
SaRA Health (Kansas City, MO)
SaRA Health provides personalized injury and fall prevention paths through its platform to high-risk populations like first responders and senior citizens. The company’s customers — corporate wellness providers, home health and PT clinics — apply their content directly to patients or provide SaRA Health with their content and mapping, which the company subsequently "codes" into a fully digital patient experience.
“The Digital Sandbox KC grant is giving us the opportunity to prototype a new gamified telehealth experience that we believe will change the outlook (and reimbursement) for preventative PT services,” said SaRA Health CEO Steven Coen. “We are starting with senior citizens who are still in their homes as we combat the top health risks to seniors (falls and loneliness) and provide a highly profitable revenue stream for PTs, especially those involved in Home Health.”
VEEPER (Kansas City, MO)
Veeper builds personalized loyalty programs for online stores and tracks customers’ shopping habits to apply the optimum discount that gets them to buy more. The company’s MVP saw a 14% net increase in 30 launch partners’ average order value.
“We couldn't thank the Sandbox enough for supporting and in believing in Veeper,” said CEO Jordan Williams. “The funding will allow us to finish development on our Shopify app, onboard our launch partners and get on the road to revenue.”
Digital Sandbox KC is honored to support these new awardees and is ready for new applications for its third-quarter cycle and presentations. Visit digitalsandboxkc.org
for more information and to submit your idea.
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