‘We Create KC’ report cites progress in several areas
KCSourceLink today released its third We Create KC report, which looks at progress in key areas central to supporting entrepreneurs and business growth in the region. Last year, KCSourceLink, a network of 240+ business-building resources, made more than 155,000 connections to help entrepreneurs and small business owners find the help they need to start and grow.
“At KCSourceLink we are committed to supporting the entrepreneurial community—the pioneers, champions and heroes who’ve gotten us to this point. And we’re also committed to tracking the numbers to measure our progress,” said Maria Meyers, founder of KCSourceLink and head of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center, of which KCSourceLink is a part.
The good news: Kansas City is making progress in terms of access to capital for entrepreneurs, the idea pipeline and resources to support startup growth.
The full report can be downloaded at www.wecreatekc.com.
Access to Capital
Capital for early-stage entrepreneurs and education for both investors and entrepreneurs has been a focus for development. In the past year:
- OneKC for Women launched a new WE-Lend microloan program.
- AltCap announced new funds available for contractors and artists.
- The Microloan Coalition was formed to bring additional dollars to Kansas City area microenterprises.
- LaunchKC and Digital Sandbox KC provided grants for early-stage businesses.
- Mid-America Angels and Women’s Capital Connection had their largest year ever in investments.
- Northland Angel Investor Network got off the ground and iiM focused its funding on human and animal health and agriculture.
- The Collective and a re-formed Angel Capital Group are providing more options on the local investment scene.
- KC Rise has announced a new fund that will invest side-by-side with other VCs.
- Flyover Capital made its first investments.
- Out of town funds like Royal Street Ventures, Lewis and Clark Ventures and Dundee Capital have set up shop and invested in regional businesses.
The Idea Pipeline
Moving innovations from universities and research labs into the marketplace is a difficult process. The Whiteboard2Boardroom program has been working hard to improve the innovation pipeline. Launched in 2009 with four partners, that number has expanded to 22. Whiteboard2Boardroom has identified more than 40 projects in the innovation pipeline, from biodiesel to drug development. This is the first time there’s been a clear snapshot of what Kansas City’s innovation pipeline looks like.
Resources to Support Startup and Growth
Kansas City has a strong, interconnected web of resources that support entrepreneurial ventures at all stages and in all industries. During the past year, resource organizations came together to form the Multicultural Business Coalition, designed to better engage diverse business owners with programs and services.
We Create KC
The We Create KC report, produced under an award from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, covers six imperatives that were identified as key areas of development in the region’s quest to nurture entrepreneurship and economic growth. These six imperatives came out of research conducted by several local organizations, and helped focus this particular Big 5 initiative defined by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.
The six areas are:
- Maximize entrepreneurial support resources
- Tell the story
- Create a strong entrepreneurial pipeline of ideas
- Build entrepreneurial talent
- Dramatically increase available startup and growth capital
- Engage the broader corporate community
Stories that typify the success being driven by area entrepreneurs are highlighted, including:
- 17°73°, a solar-powered solution to charge cellphones in developing countries
- blooom, an online platform that helps average Americans manage their 401(k)s
- Jazzy B’s, a BBQ fusion food truck that recently opened a restaurant in Lee’s Summit, Missouri
- Weave Gotcha Covered, custom drapery and furnishings business with a social entrepreneurship angle