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Competitions and Awards

missouri-entrepreneur-of-the-yearMake your company a household name and get well deserved recognition by competing for and winning locally and nationally sponsored awards.

Check the list below for Kansas City's most prominent business competitions that are currently taking nominations.

If you'd like to list a competition or award, please contact

Application Deadline: Once Funds Become Exhausted (Apply NOW!)

Applications are now open for grants of up to $5,000 through the new KC Global Cities Initiative (GCI) Micro-grant program. Grants must be spent on improving the applicant’s ability to access world markets. Marketing production for international markets, translation services, and market research are just three examples of many eligible expenses.
The micro-grant program is made possible thanks to a grant from JPMorgan Chase, which, along with the Brookings Institute, funds the Global Cities Initiative and its network of 28 metropolitan areas. Kansas City’s GCI Steering Committee released the area’s first regional export plan and implemented the plan’s export concierge concept, centered at the KC Chamber’s World Trade Center.
“This is an important part of the World Trade Center’s mission to increase Greater Kansas City’s share of the international pie by supporting our local businesses in exporting,” says Joe Reardon, President and CEO of the KC Chamber. “With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the U.S., the opportunities are there. Our thanks to JPMorgan Chase for their generosity and support.”
Interested companies must have fewer than 500 employees and be located in the Kansas City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). That includes Jackson, Clay, Cass, Platte, Bates, Lafayette, Ray, Caldwell, and Clinton counties in Missouri, and Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson, Miami, and Linn counties in Kansas.
Information and applications can be found here.
Apply now!

The Sprint Accelerator is joining with other corporations for our accelerator program. This model allows for increased collaboration among corporations and startups. Selecting startup companies that align with each corporation’s strategic goals gives the corporations access to innovative products and services. And each startup selected for the program, will receive unprecedented resources from these corporate sponsors.

Highlights of the 2018 Corporate Accelerator program:
90-day program, pre-program planning sessions occurring in the 30 days prior
Being on-site for the entire program is not required. However, at scheduled times, startups will be required to be onsite in Kansas City.
State-of-the-art workspace facilities provided at Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District
Targeted, strategic meetings with the corporate sponsor teams to discuss business development, pilots and potential sponsorships
Mentors from the Corporate Sponsors and their respective networks and business sponsors
Mentors from the investor, business development and entrepreneurial communities
Business building sessions around product, brand, and marketing
Invite-only Demo Day

2018 Corporate Sponsors:
Sprint IoT
Dairy Farmers of America

For more information and to apply, click here!

THE INCUBATE ($18K - $36K per grant)

You’ve got a great idea, or even a specific project that needs funding, but need some help introducing it to the world. Individual finalists are selected for Regional Finals, where your work is displayed during the event and grants are awarded.


THE LAUNCH ($72K - $180K per grant)

You’ve introduced your idea to the world, but are still learning as you make it real. Businesses and organizations selected for Regional Finals will pitch before judges, competing for a grant—winners move on to the Global Finals in New York City.


THE SCALE ($180K - $360K per grant)

You’ve launched, learned, have a solid approach, and are ready for the next level. Businesses and organizations selected for Regional Finals will pitch before judges, competing for a grant—winners move on to the Global Finals in New York City.


For more information, visit WeWork's Creator Awards website.

Digital Sandbox KC: Where Innovators Come to Play (Ongoing)

Digital Sandbox KC brings together people, ideas and resources to build thriving companies. The program provides much needed early-stage funding to rising stars. The region's longtime leaders including private companies, government agencies and universities have united to help this new wave of entrepreneurs. It's an unprecedented metro-wide effort to help make KC America's most entrepreneurial city.

93 proof-of-concept projects funded for area startups
35 new KC-based companies created
53 companies have secured follow-on investment
$38.2 million in follow-on funding
More than 480 new jobs created, with more than $12 million in payroll

Digital Sandbox KC broadly seeks new innovation in information technology.  The Sandbox provides innovators with proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes. The Sandbox may cover expenses for project consultants, market research, legal support, equipment and other market validation, prototyping and beta testing needs.

The Digital Sandbox KC process requires:
- Completion of the Digital Sandbox KC Online Application
- A Meeting/Pitch Evaluation
- A Board Vote

Please keep in mind that this application will be viewed by those evaluating your submission; those participating in your meeting/pitch and by the Sandbox board for voting purposes. Once your application is received, it will be reviewed for completeness and you will be contacted with information regarding next steps. Submission Tip: Thoroughly reviewing the Frequently Asked Questions prior to submission may improve your outcome.
Application Deadline: Ongoing!

DTSKCK promotes economic development, housing, wellness, cultural, and social opportunities in downtown Kansas City, KS. Their Small Business Grant Program provides the small business owner or entrepreneur the possibility of partial “gap filling”, which their research indicates is greatly needed. One qualification: you are in, or plan to locate in, our service area: 4th to 18th; Washington to Sandusky.

Questions are encouraged! Please contact DTSKCK at (913) 371-0705 or for more information, or visit their website.
Are you interested in expanding your export activities, but are concerned about cost, or fearful about entering a new market? Both Missouri and Kansas have your back.

MO STEP=UP: Financial Assistance Opportunities for Expanded Export Activity

The MO STEP=UP program, an initiative of the Missouri International Trade and Investment Office funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, is a grant program offering international marketing and financial assistance, designed with small business owners like you in mind. By taking part in MO STEP=UP, your company could embark on the following activities focused on growing your exports (like trade missions, Gold Key Services, marketing strategy enhancements, and access to sector-specific trade shows w/reimbursement for qualifying expenses) to the Middle East, Central and South America: Learn more here or contact the Export Experts.

KS STEP Grant Applications
The Kansas Department of Commerce is currently accepting STEP grant applications from small businesses to assist them in starting or growing their exports. The Commerce programs, which are being funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), will help non-exporters begin exporting for the first time or existing exporters expand their export levels. Commerce is administering the grant in tandem with the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Programs offered through the STEP Grant include export seminars and training courses, opportunities for participation in foreign trade shows and missions, and support for entering new markets. For the current grant year, SBA has awarded Kansas $383,000 in STEP funding. Businesses that wish to apply for support or are interested can learn more here.

(Taken from releases by the Missouri Department of Economic Development & the Kansas Department of Agriculture)

iStart is the go-to site for entering business competitions from around the world, browsing pages of startup ideas and networking with hundreds of innovative, energized entrepreneurs. 

Find out about business competitions all over the world.

With the financial support of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Downtown Shareholders is pleased to announce the launch of the third round of Pop-Up! Downtown KCK, a retail development initiative to enliven Downtown Kansas City, Kansas. Pop-Up! Downtown KCK matches select entrepreneurs with high-visibility, well-sited spaces at free or reduced rent, and provides an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to test a retail concept or determine whether Downtown KCK is a viable long-term location for their business.

To learn more about this program or to download a funding application, check out our website.

The Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation is excited to host the sixth annual Regnier Venture Creation Challenge Competition in May of 2018. The RVCC event is a two-day, business plan and speed pitch competition promoting entrepreneurship and new venture development for university students in Missouri and Kansas and current Entrepreneurship Scholars.

The competition, underwritten by a generous gift to the University of Missouri – Kansas City by the Regnier Family Foundations, is designed to encourage venture creation through a forum in which students and program participants can present new venture concepts to local investors, business leaders, mentors and judges. In 2018, eligible teams will compete for $50,000 in total awards and seed funding!

Apply HERE!
Submit your 2 minute video pitch via Blackboard by 5:00pm on Friday, November 17

Roo Idea Jump
allows UMKC Students to pitch entrepreneurial business plans to judges and compete for prizes and awards. The biannual Roo Jump is held each December and May and is open to all full and part-time, for-credit, undergraduate UMKC students.

Both Roo Idea Jump competitions feature $3,000 in prizes and awards. The Roo Jump is graciously supported by the Regnier Family Foundations.

  • $200: Finalists Award – Each of the five finalist teams will receive $200
  • $500: People’s Choice Award – The audience will vote for the best idea. The award will be distributed proportional to the number of votes each idea receives.
  • $1,500: Judges Award – Each of the three judges will have $500 they can award however they would like. This means each judge could choose to award it all to one team or divide it evenly amongst all teams, or anywhere in between.
 Application details can be found HERE. 

At the center of the Inside/Outside Innovation Summit is the Startup Showcase, with spots for up to 40 selected high-growth startups from various industries (FinTech, InsuranceTech, MarketingTech, HRtech, SaaS, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and others). Startups chosen for the floor will have an opportunity to better engage corporate customers and partners, show off new technologies and meet and mix with fellow startup teams. It will be held MAY 29-31, 2018 in LINCOLN, NE.

Each startup must apply to be included in the showcase and/or the pitch competition. Chosen teams will be matched with corporate innovators & fellow startup founders (think investor, customer & talent speed-dating). Apply HERE.

A select number of startups will be chosen from the application pool to compete for a $100k investment pitch competition & $25k LNK Launch Grant incentive opportunities. Tickets will be required for all attendees. 

A rolling application process is being used, so we encourage teams to apply early.

Don't miss the opportunity to:

  • Find your next customer, pilot partner, or investor 
  • Connect with leading industry mentors and experts
  • Learn from tactical training led by fellow founders and industry experts
  • Get introductions to corporate innovators and investors through targeted matchmaking and “speed-dating” sessions
  • Showcase your products/services to gain brand and market exposure
  • Compete for investment & LNK Launch Grant and pitch opportunities

You don't have to showcase or pitch to be a part of the action. Grab a ticket to access all of the keynotes, sessions, networking, parties or just to walk the showcase floor.

Award Entries

All entries can be made between March 14, 2018 and April 30, 2018.

Entries are broken up by Brands, Nonprofits, Government entities and/or Educational institutions. Each entry is further classified by their production methods: either an in-house team or an external creative agency.

Social categories include:

·         Multi-Channel Campaign (Uses more than 1 social platform, etc.)
·         Integrated with an Offline Campaign (includes print, TV, radio, mail, etc.)
·         Facebook Campaign (Sole use or Facebook being the Primary method)
·         Twitter Campaign (Sole use or Twitter being the Primary method)
·         Email Campaign (Sole use or Email being the Primary method)
·         Event or Real-time Campaign (Event promotion or Real-time social activity)
·         Visual Campaign (via Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.)

Entries will be judged by national social media professionals from other Social media Club chapters throughout the United States. You can enter one campaign in up to 5 categories as well. 

Click here to see the 2018 AMPSKC Rules & FAQ's and APPLY HERE.

Selected winners may be asked to present their campaigns at future Social Media Club breakfasts or lunch events.

Deadline for consideration in 2018 is Friday, June 1.

Continuing a Kansas City tradition, Ingram’s will salute the region’s fastest-growing companies in its 32nd annual Corporate Report 100 competition, to be published in the July 2018 edition. The report will measCR100-Ingrams Brand-2018-page-001ure growth between fiscal 2014 and 2017. Public and private for-profit companies headquartered in Kansas City's 22-county metro area with at least $200,000 in sales in 2014 and $1 million in sales in fiscal 2017 are eligible to win. Deadline for consideration in 2018 is Friday, June 1.  APPLY HERE

Nominations open through July 6. 

The Kansas City Business Journal is looking for the area's Best Places to Work. Rankings are based on surveys where employees rate their company on such topics as team/manager effectiveness, retention probability, work engagement and feeling valued.

The contest is open to any company in the Kansas City metropolitan area (Ray, Cass, Clay, Jackson and Platte counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas) with at least 10 full-time and part-time permanent employees, who have been employed with the company at least 30 days, and who work within the contest area.

Surveys will be administered and results tabulated by Quantum Workplace, a specialist in measuring workplace satisfaction. Only the finalists in each category will be published. All other participating companies will be guaranteed anonymity with regards to results and participation.

Entry is a two-step process. Nominate HERE.

Step One:  Nominations open through July 6

Step Two:  Survey administered by Quantum Workplace.  All nominees will be contacted when the survey opens on July 9.

Questions? Contact Sarah Ventola at or 816-777-2214.

Are you an entrepreneur running an established company with annual revenues in excess of $100,000 or more? Get advice from a team of business leaders, executives and serial entrepreneurs. 

The Growth Mentoring Service is an Enterprise Center in Johnson County (ECJC) program, modeled after the established and highly recognized MIT VMS mentoring program, which connects experienced entrepreneurs with a team of skilled volunteer mentors. We use a group mentoring approach—a lead mentor coordinates a team of 3-4 mentors that meet together with the entrepreneur(s) in sessions that provide practical, day-to-day professional advice and coaching.

Interested? Apply now to get connected with a mentor team suited to your needs.
Application Deadline: August 1, 2018

The Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP)
is now accepting applications for its Mentee Class of 2018. Applications are due Wednesday, August 1, 2018!
HEMP was founded in 1995 by Barnett Helzberg, Jr., former owner and president of Helzberg Diamonds. Inspired by his 23-year mentoring relationship with Ewing Kauffman, HEMP matches seasoned, successful entrepreneur mentors with second-stage entrepreneur mentees. Considerable mentoring is also fostered through peer-to-peer relationships derived from involvement through HEMP.
Components of the program include a one-on-one mentoring relationship, networking opportunities with peers and veteran business owners, exposure to mentoring skills that can be applied to any professional or personal situation, business education discussing greatest successes and lessons learned from peers and top CEOs in the community, and field trips to locations of entrepreneurial interest in and out of Kansas City.


Sole Ultimate Decision Maker of the business for a minimum of 3 years
Business must generate between $1-$100 million in annual revenues (our greatest interest is a business poised for growth)
Business must have a minimum of 5 full-time employees
Applicant should have a desire to substantially grow the business
Applicant displays internal and external integrity

Willing to invest the time to meet a mentor a minimum of 2 times per month and attend 75% of events

Apply Today!

The application period for WIBO 2018 is now open! If you are interested in applying for the 2018 WIBO cohort, contact or attend an upcoming information session: 
July 25th at 5:30 PM - KC Public Library Plaza Branch, Small Meeting Room

August 1st at 5:30 PM - KC Public Library Central Branch, Turner Boardroom

The WIBO 16-Week Workshop: How to Build a Growing Profitable Business is a nationally renowned, peer-to-peer led business training program for business owners ready to launch a business or take their established business to the next level. WIBO offers an opportunity to develop the basic structure for a sustainable business growth and profitability plan, including cornerstone analytical tools that develop and sustain informed financial decision-making.

WIBO is structured to provide a unique peer-to-peer learning environment where volunteer business owners and business subject experts share their expertise and experiences through facilitated discussions and case studies about all aspects of running a successful and profitable business. The cohort will learn about marketing, market research, purchasing, pricing strategies, sales, finance, record-keeping and accounting, human resources, law and other facets of operating a business while interacting with other business owners who share their own experiences, insights, and best practices.

Classes begin September 4, 2018 and will meet on Tuesdays, 6:00 pm for 16 weeks. WIBO culminates with a graduation ceremony where participants are honored with a certificate of completion. 

Tuition for WIBO is $500 and includes all workshop materials. Need-based scholarships are available and can cover up to 50% of the total cost of tuition. To inquire about scholarship eligibility, contact

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