Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Kansas City, MO

Kansas City

Kansas City is home to brands and companies including Hallmark Cards, Inc., Sprint and H&R Block. More recently, the area has seen a surge in entrepreneurship and startups like Rx Savings Solutions that has raised over $22 million in funding.

Kansas City, MO, on the banks of the Missouri River, is the state’s largest city. The central city of the Kansas City metropolitan area includes cities from both Kansas and Missouri. Kansas City is home to a number of recognizable brands and companies, including Hallmark Cards, Inc., Sprint and H&R Block. More recently, the area has seen a surge in entrepreneurship and startups. That includes Rx Savings Solutions, a startup that aims to solve high drug costs that has raised over $22 million in funding.

Kansas City ranked 30th in WalletHub’s 2018 list of the best large cities to start a business, while the metropolitan area as a whole was 15th in the nation in terms of startup activity in 2017, according to the Kauffman Index. Similarly, FitSmallBusines listed Kansas City at 31 on their list of the most entrepreneurial small cities for 2018. Finally, according to a study performed by Thumbtack.com, Kansas City is the top city for millennial entrepreneurs.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Kansas City’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Technically located just down the road in Independence, MO, Business Networking & Referral Lunch holds monthly networking lunches for professionals in the Kansas City area.

This organization holds weekly meetings that include time for networking and introductions as well as an educational presentation.

KC Roundtable is a networking group that aims to support entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s by surrounding them with their peers.

One of the largest networking groups in the area, the Kansas City branch of Network After Work meets monthly in locations around the city.

 

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

1 Million Cups holds weekly events in Kansas City in which entrepreneurs can meet one another and present their startups to their peers.

Every year, Kansas City hosts one branch of Global Entrepreneurship Week, annual celebrations of entrepreneurship held in cities around the country.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce holds a number of regular events, including seminars, networking opportunities, and awards ceremonies.

The Midwest Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship is held annually by the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the Kauffman Foundation.

Kansas City is also home to one of Techweek’s many annual weeklong conferences held around the country, focusing on and celebrating technology and entrepreneurship.

 

Startup Competitions:

Held annually in Kansas City but open to any entrepreneurs willing to relocate there, LaunchKC gives out grants of $50,000 and $100,000 to winners every year.

Every year, the University of Missouri-Kansas City holds the RVCC, in which teams of students pitch business ideas and compete for $75,000 in total prizes.

Roo Idea Jump is a competition held every semester at UMKC in which all students can pitch entrepreneurial business plans and compete for $3,000 in cash prizes.

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Co-working Spaces:

Cowork Waldo offers three levels of membership plans in addition to a virtual office option as well as the ability to rent out meeting rooms.

Firebrand Collective is Kansas City’s only co-working space with a focus on providing space specifically for women entrepreneurs.

Novel Coworking’s Kansas City space is located one block from the Power and Light District in the Kessler Building and offers private offices as well as more traditional co-working options.

In addition to providing office space to members, OfficePort KC tries to double as a networking hub to support entrepreneurship and business.

With three locations across the Kansas City area, Plexpod offers three different membership plans and a number of amenities in each office.

WeWork’s Kansas City location has their traditional private office locations of a wide variety of sizes as well as a hot desk and dedicated desk memberships.

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Maker spaces:

Hammerspace Workshop is a community space that offers a wide variety of tools and equipment for makers as well as regular classes.

Just across the border in Kansas, the Johnson County Library’s Central Resource Library offers a makerspace with a variety of tools.

Maker Village is a community woodshop and metal workshop that hosts regular classes and events.

 

Incubators:

With locations in Tulsa, OK as well as Kansas City, BetaBlox is a business incubator that works to grow 10 companies at a time.

Ennovation is a 28,000-square foot facility containing commercial kitchen space as well as more traditional business incubation services.

The Enterprise Center Johnson County is a non-profit organization across the border in Kansas that works to support entrepreneurship and small business in the Kansas City area.

More than just a co-working space, iWerx is an entrepreneurial development center that works with its members to help grow their businesses.

The Kansas City Startup Village is a micro-community dedicated to supporting and advancing entrepreneurship in the Kansas City area.

 

Accelerators:

A combined effort by Sprint and the Dairy Farmers of America, the Sprint Accelerator primarily focuses on Internet of Things, AgTech, and food startups.

Techstars runs a number of accelerator programs in different cities, including one in Kansas City.

Think Big Accelerator is an accelerator program that works with promising early-stage tech companies for 6-9 months.

 

Colleges/Universities:

Across the border in Kansas, KCKCC provides training and education through its Entrepreneurship & Workforce Development Center.

Metropolitan Community College’s Associate’s degree in business administration includes classes on entrepreneurship.

While Rockhurst University does not offer any entrepreneurship majors, its Helzberg School of Management is designed to help support business leaders.

UMKC’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation offers a number of both undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as a range of outside resources.

 

Angel Groups/VCs:

The Collective is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage companies across a variety of verticals.

Firebrand Ventures prefers to invest in promising companies in quickly-growing markets across the Greater Midwest region of the United States.

Focusing on building companies with a good culture, Five Elms Capital invests in B2B software and internet-enabled companies.

Flyover Capital invests in seed-stage technology companies in Middle America, with the goal of fostering innovation in “flyover country.”

A program by the Enterprise Center in Johnson County, Mid America Angels invests primarily in early-stage companies in the Kansas City area.

The Women’s Capital Connection is an angel group that focuses on supporting women-led startups, primarily in the Midwest.

 

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Kansas City Business Journal offers a variety of newsletters covering different business-related topics from around the region.

KCSourceLink offers monthly newsletters covering entrepreneurship news in the area as well as biweekly newsletters with a schedule of events.

Startland, a site that covers innovation news in the Kansas City area, offers two email newsletter plans.

 

Are you familiar with an entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Kansas City not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

 El Paso, TX, Lincoln, NE, St. Louis, MO


Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at Funding$age where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.