UMKC E-SCHOLARS AND DIGITAL SANDBOX KC PARTNER TO HELP THREE STARTUP COMPANIESAmy Brost
Three student-led companies have been selected for proof-of-concept funding support through a partnership involving Digital Sandbox KC and UMKC’s E-Scholars program. The partnership gives E-Scholars participants a direct route to resources of the Sandbox.
“The partnership between Digital Sandbox and UMKC E-Scholars program has been terrific. These three exciting companies join the three E-Scholar companies selected in June and all six show great promise to grow and create new jobs for Kansas City,” said Jeff Shackelford, director, Digital Sandbox. “This was a great example of two Kansas City programs collaborating and together producing higher 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.
The companies selected for support include:
Bulletyn increases student engagement around campus by digitizing the traditional bulletin boards. Students will be able to know everything that is going on around campus in real time 24/7 while organization leaders will be able to track and use analytics to plan events.
“We would like to thank Digital Sandbox to provide us funding to help further our venture,” said Mike Nguyen, founder of Bulletyn.
AddVenture’s mission is to create adventure-added advertisements. The mission is accomplished by producing GameAds – Games that are Ads, Ads that are Games. GameAds are short, intuitive, online video games tailored-made to the businesses’ image to generate website traffic, boost brand recognition and leverage sales. Unlike other video games where advertisements annoyingly pop up during the gameplay, GameAds themselves are the advertisements. Everything about a GameAd, from graphic and audio to gameplay and features, are all specifically designed to tell a lively and animated story about a business’ history, reasons for being, value proposition, products and services offered.
“It is such an honor to have been approved for project financing by Digital Sandbox,” said Phuc Ho, AddVenture co-founder and CEO. “This vital and timely funding will definitely help AddVenture in researching and developing the high-quality products that users love. On top of the funding, Digital Sandbox’s reputation and trustworthiness will tremendously increase our chance of finding our early adopters.”
gr8box helps customers discover foods free of the Big 8 Allergens. Each month gr8box sends a subscription box with 8 different, healthy snack and meal items. The website collects consumer feedback and helps customers find their new favorites locally and in the company’s ecommerce store. Consumer feedback and demographics are sold to help ensure consumers can access better products in the future.
“We’re honored Digital Sandbox KC has selected gr8box to receive this funding to complete our development,” said Terri Jordan, founder.
Launched in February 2013, the Digital Sandbox KC has worked with more than 300 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the metro area.
Results for Digital Sandbox KC thus far have included:
• 64 proof-of-concept funded for area startups
• 27 new businesses created
• 247 jobs created
• $22.7 million in follow-on funding
Applications for Digital Sandbox KC are taken on a rolling basis and evaluation/selection cycles run eight weeks. Sandbox funding may cover expenses for project consultants, legal support, equipment and other market validation, prototyping and beta testing needs. Visit www.digitalsandboxkc.com for more information. Currently funding is available for Kansas City area companies in Missouri and Olathe, KS.
About Digital Sandbox
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. More information and the Sandbox’s annual report can be found at www.digitalsandboxkc.com.