Two programs whose purpose is to help create more successful entrepreneurs in Kansas City have formed a unique partnership.   Digital Sandbox KC  and UMKC’s E-Scholars program have developed a program that allows participants in the E-Scholars program an additional route to access Digital Sandbox KC resources.

“The UMKC Entrepreneurship Scholars program has a very specific goal – to grow businesses and create jobs,” said Jeff Hornsby, Regnier Institute director and Henry W. Bloch/Missouri Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship. Henry W. Bloch/Missouri Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship.  “Digital Sandbox’s goal is to help create new businesses starts and jobs in Kansas City. By partnering together, we can maximize our resources and results.”

E-Scholars is an intensive entrepreneurial development program offered through the University of Missouri — Kansas City’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.  The program is designed to provide promising entrepreneurs with the support and resources needed to launch scalable and sustainable ventures.  E-Scholars has helped to launch more than 160 ventures since its first graduating class in 2011, ranging from enterprise software to health care services to consumer products. 

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.  Since launching in February 2014, Digital Sandbox has provided project development funding for 46 companies that have collectively raised more than $17M and created more than 180 new Kansas City area jobs.

“As we continue to look for ways for Digital Sandbox to create even more new KC-based companies and jobs, the idea of partnering with UMKC’s E-Scholar program just made perfect sense,” said Jeff Shackelford, director, Digital Sandbox KC.  “We’ve already seen from our partnerships with many of Kansas City’s most well-known companies that by bringing many resources together and focusing on growing new area businesses, great things can happen.”

The new joint program will offer E-Scholar participants the opportunity to be measured against only their E-Scholar peers to secure project funding up to $10,000 and then, if milestones are met, apply to the current Digital Sandbox program to secure up to an additional $15,000 in project funding. 

“This partnership really focuses on helping those entrepreneurs at the early, early stage of taking an idea and moving it to a proven concept,” said Hornsby.  “It’s vital to our community to continue to help move as many early stage entrepreneurs navigate down the path to commercialization so we continue to grow new businesses.”