With the official start of summer just days away, thoughts are turned to baseball, vacations, swimming pools and beaches.  For some, this means sand between their toes but for area entrepreneurs this means playing in the sandbox.  The Digital Sandbox KC will host the Summer in the Sand Series with an impressive lineup of themes and experts to prompt discussion around some of the hottest topics for entrepreneurs today.

Digital Sandbox KC’s mission is to help launch new businesses and assist them in securing add-on funding.  Launched in February 2013, the highly successful proof-of-concept program has worked with more than 300 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the metro area.  Results so far:

52 proof-of-concept funded for area startup
23 new businesses created
181 jobs created
$17.7 million in follow-on funding 

“The Summer in the Sand Series is a dynamic way to engage the startup community and provide relevant and valuable educational support.  We will bring experts, experienced business owners and investors who can address the specific needs of the entrepreneurial community,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of the Digital Sandbox KC.  “This is another way to connect valuable resources and to strengthen the ecosystem that makes Kansas City a great place to start a business.” 

The four events are held in conjunction with “CoWorking Wednesdays” at the Sprint Accelerator Facility, a partner of Digital Sandbox KC.  Registration is open and required for admission

 All 90-minute sessions begin at 3:00 p.m. and are held at the Sprint Accelerator. Topics include: 

June 24 – The funding landscape in Kansas City:  Gaining a home field advantage

o   Maria Meyers, founder and network builder, KCSourceLink, knows a thing or two about money and startups.  KCSourceLink, in conjunction with a group of partners, explored funding mechanisms available to early-stage companies in the Kansas City community and found some startling gaps.  But the good news is there is a plan to close the gaps and increase accessibility and availability.  Maria will provide insight on who is getting capital in Kansas City, how this could impact your startup project and KC’s vision to be America’s most entrepreneurial city.

 July 15 – Batter up!  Making an effective pitch to the Digital Sandbox KC

o   Jeff Shackelford, director, Digital Sandbox KC, will walk participants through the process of applying for and pitching to the decision makers.  After this session you’ll know exactly how to make the most effective presentation for funding support from the Digital Sandbox KC and increase your chance for hitting a homerun, or at least for funding approval.

 August 19 –  Don’t get caught looking:  How early customer acquisition can fuel funding

o   Hear from a panel of distinguished and successful business owners from the Kansas City area who will share stories on the creative ways they acquired their first customers and how that impacted their ability to secure important early investors. 

Stuart Ludlow, co-founder, RFP365
Danny O’Neill, owner, The Roasterie
Babir Sultan, CEO, Royal Loyal

September 16 – Pitching in the Big Leagues when the bases are loaded

o   Hear from angel investors on what they look for when making capital investment decisions. This is your chance to hear directly from some of the area’s best-known and most important investors and to ask them questions.  Panelists include:

Tom DeBacco, general partner, Flyover Capital
Lance LeMay, managing director, OpenAir Equity Partners
Jill Meyer, senior technology development and commercialization consultant, UMKC Small Business and Technology Development Center
Rick Vaughn, managing director, Mid-America Angels

Digital Sandbox KC is an unprecedented partnership among private companies, universities, entrepreneurial support organizations and government agencies across the Kansas City region designed to spur the creation of high growth companies.  Digital Sandbox KC provides proof-of-concept resources including market validation, prototyping and beta testing support for development of digital technologies within new and existing businesses.

Applications for Digital Sandbox KC are taken on a rolling basis. The Sandbox funding may cover expenses for project consultants, legal support, equipment and other market validation, prototyping and beta testing needs. For more information about Digital Sandbox KC, go to