September 1, 2015
KANSAS CITY, MO — Many cities are trying to attract startups. Now, with a unique partnership between the City of Olathe and the Digital Sandbox KC, residents and businesses in Olathe can apply for grants to help turn their ideas into business starts. 

The Digital Sandbox KC and the City of Olathe are hosting an interactive event Thursday, September 17, at Olathe City Hall for early-stage entrepreneurs who want to take the next step. Often, proof-of-concept support is a barrier: typical Sandbox grants are between $20,000 and $25,000.

“The Digital Sandbox is a highly successful proof-of-concept program,” says Michael Wilkes, Olathe city manager. “We know there are some great ideas and entrepreneurs in Olathe that just need a little push in the right direction.”

The Digital Sandbox works because of a strong relationship with community, corporate and business development resources. The partnership with the City of Olathe focuses on continuing the City’s efforts to drive entrepreneurship and new business starts.

 “The Sandbox provides support to early-stage entrepreneurs whose ideas have possibility to soar,” says Jeff Shackelford, executive director, Digital Sandbox KC. “We’re looking to find the next Garmin, the next great Olathe company.” 

The first company in Olathe to receive Digital Sandbox KC program support is PerfectCube, founded by Mark Calhoun and Jim Starcev. PerfectCube provides business analytics tools – typically available only to large retailers – for small retail business owners. Co-founder Mark Calhoun will share his story at the event to demonstrate the importance of early-stage monies and how that has impacted their business.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.

Launched in February 2013, the Digital Sandbox KC has worked with more than 300 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the metro area. This is the first time the program will be used to drive increased entrepreneurship for a specific city.

Results for Digital Sandbox KC thus far have included:

  • 54 proof-of-concept funded for area startups
  • 23 new businesses created
  • 181 jobs created
  • $17.8 million in follow-on funding

Applications for Digital Sandbox KC are taken on a rolling basis and evaluation/selection cycles run eight weeks. The Sandbox funding may cover expenses for project consultants, legal support, equipment and other market validation, prototyping and beta testing needs. Olathe entrepreneurs are encouraged to visit for more information.

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.

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