Three promising entrepreneurs from UMKC’s E-Scholars program have secured funding support through a partnership between the program and the Digital Sandbox KC.  The partnership gives E-Scholars participants a direct route to resources of the Sandbox. 

The companies, all based in the Kansas City area, address three unique challenges through innovative technologies.

  • Mag-Vest is the first magnetic tool vest that lets people carry their tools, screws, nuts and bolts from any working position.  Unlike other solutions that have limited compartments or simply get in the way in tight spaces, Mag-Vest(TM) gives complete freedom to move and place tools in any manner.  “I am honored, humbled and grateful that Digital Sandbox KC chose to support Mag-Vest(TM) with this incredibly generous grant,” said Grant Miner, inventor/founder.  
  • Mobility Designed creates mobility devices to improve quality of life for those with mobility challenges. Their first product, the M+D™ Crutch, solves the problem of pain and potential damage to armpits, hands and wrists caused by the use of standard crutches. M+D™ Crutches are designed to provide pain free support and a custom ergonomic fit.  “We are very excited to have gotten this funding from the Digital Sandbox.  It is incredibly rewarding to have an organization like the Sandbox believe in what we are trying to accomplish because it validates all the work we have done,” said Liliana Younger, CEO, Mobility Designed.  “This grant will get us so much closer to making our product a reality.”
  • Smart Steps Mobile is an app designed for teens and adults with cognitive disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome.  It offers choices related to everyday problems such as a late ride or a lost backpack. Prompts include social skills, safety tips and when to call for help.  “I am thrilled to be awarded funds to move Smart Steps forward to the next phase, which is to create a portal for user-created content,” said Cindy Fisher, Ed.D., president and CEO of Smart Steps, LLC.  “I am confident this feature will propel Smart Steps forward.”  

“The mission of The UMKC Entrepreneurship Scholars program is to accelerate the formation of scalable, sustainable ventures and create jobs,” said Jeff Hornsby, Regnier Institute director and Henry W. Bloch/Missouri Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurship. “These three entrepreneurs have great concepts.  Now, they will get a direct benefit of our partnership with Digital Sandbox and the combined resources we deliver.” 

 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 52 companies that have collectively raised more than $17M and created more than 180 new Kansas City area jobs.

“This is just the beginning,” said Jeff Shackelford, director, Digital Sandbox KC.  “And, it is just one example of how the Digital Sandbox program can partner with existing organizations and institutions to extend our reach.  Working with the UMKC E-Scholar program brings more early-stage concepts to the table for funding consideration such as these three new companies.  One of our goals is to create more new KC-based companies and jobs.  I’m confident these three are off to a good start.”    


 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.

 The Entrepreneurship Scholars (E-Scholars) Program has a very specific goal – to grow businesses. Whether that means starting a venture from an idea, or taking a fledgling business to new heights, the program provides ample resources to help individuals launch businesses. E-Scholars is an intensive entrepreneurial development program offered through the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s (UMKC) Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, designed to provide promising entrepreneurs with the support and resources needed to launch scalable and sustainable ventures.