Startup@Kauffman events provide launchpad for One Week KC
The 13 startups that pitched at the Startup@Kauffman Demo Day are recognized at the end of the session.
The "Foundation for Entrepreneurship" on Monday helped lay the foundation for an entrepreneurship-focused week in Kansas City.
The Kansas City, Mo.-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation hosted Startup@Kauffman, a day's worth of entrepreneurial activities to kick off One Week KC, a nine-day series of 30-plus events designed to inspire, educate and connect Kansas City entrepreneurs.
One Week KC was born out of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce's "Big 5" objective of making Kansas City "America's most entrepreneurial city," and the Kauffman Foundation jumped at the chance to help kick-start that week with a daylong event.
"We wanted to kick it off in a big way," said Cameron Cushman, a senior analyst at the Kauffman Foundation. "We were the unique person to do that here today with the Startup@Kauffman."
The day began with One Week KC's official kickoff, which featured remarks from members of the committee charged with helping the city deliver on its goal of becoming America's most entrepreneurial. The kickoff ceremony featured the viewing of a Kauffman Sketchbook video about Kansas City's entrepreneurial history narrated by Sly James, the mayor of Kansas City, Mo. and Joe Reardon, the mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.
In the video, the mayors mentioned Kansas City entrepreneurial success stories like Hallmark Cards, Marion Labs, H&R Block, American Century and Cerner. "Entrepreneurs who followed their dreams," Reardon said, "have shaped Kansas City's modern economy."
The crowd then got a glimpse of 13 startups that aspire to someday join the likes of Hallmark and Cerner among the ranks of Kansas City's entrepreneurial elite. Some of those startups, like EyeVerify, Klink Mobile, Leap2 and RareWire, have been prominently featured in the past on Silicon Prairie News. Others, like inConcert and Stackify, figure to receive significant attention in the near future. But all of them, Thad Langford said, are cause for optimism about the city's entrepreneurial scene.
(Left: Kirk Hasenzahl pitches his startup, RareWire.)
After guiding Zave Networks to an acquisition by Google last year, Langford has worked closely with a handful of Kansas City startups. and he served as moderator for Monday's Demo Day. “At a minimum," he said, "I want everybody here to walk out of this room excited and proud about the great startups that are right here under our nose.”
That sentiment was echoed later in the day by the organizers of Startup@Kauffman. Following a Lunch and Learn featuring Philip Delves Broughton, author of "The Art of the Sale," (we'll have more on that presentation in another post) the Kauffman Foundation hosted an entrepreneurial workshop. There, budding entrepreneurs could solicit advice from people with expertise in areas like marketing, sales and law.
As Cushman and Nate Olson, a Kauffman Foundation research and policy specialist, watched the interaction unfold, they reflected on their organization's involvement in One Week KC and in the Kansas City's entrepreneurial landscape as a whole.
Olson emphasized the important role events like Startup@Kauffman play in bringing together people who might not cross paths otherwise. “If we can cause more unlikely collisions," Olson said, "there’s just more amazing networking opportunities, amazing outcomes to that.”
Added Cushman: "Let's bring real entrepreneurs into our building and find out what we can learn from them, because there are really cool companies operating in our own backyard."
Diana Kander (left) was among the entrepreneurs on hand to provide advice during the Startup@Kauffman workshop on Monday afternoon.
Credits: Photos by Prentiss Earl III for the Kauffman Foundation.