Five New Companies Join the Sandbox

Five New Companies Join the Sandbox


From booking travel to monitoring cattle, the newest Digital Sandbox KC companies represent a diverse range of startups in the region. 

“We continue to be amazed by the quality and creativity of Kansas City companies,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC. “Now, through our partnerships with Olathe, Independence, St. Joseph and Great Plains Energy, we have the opportunity to help even more early-stage entrepreneurs.”

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:
2020 Adventures makes the process of planning small group trips easier. When customers submit criteria for their desired trip on the 2020 Adventures website, they receive a suggested itinerary on a personalized trip page, allowing them to share trip details and individual payment links with their friends.

“Funding from Digital Sandbox KC will help us accelerate our growth and facilitate our expansion into new markets,” said Spencer Carlson, 2020 Adventures founder. “We will use the Sandbox funds to make improvements to our frontend and backend systems, increasing the number of inquiries we can accept and opportunities to better accommodate our travelers.”

LivestockLens uses artificial intelligence technologies to automatically monitor food intake by cattle in feedlots, offering a cheaper and more accurate way of monitoring weight gain and reducing the number of animals who get sick. 

LivestockLens received funding through the Sandbox’s partnership with the City of Olathe, Kansas. In addition to up to $20,000 in project development funds from Digital Sandbox KC, LivestockLens will have access to professional workspace at the Kansas State University Olathe campus.

“We’ve now got six early-stage Olathe-based startups working out of the K-State Olathe co-working space which is great,” said Shackelford. “This is just the beginning of what will think will become a lasting and successful partnership in Olathe.”

“We appreciate the support from the City of Olathe and Digital Sandbox KC,” said Manoj George, LivestockLens founder. “The Sandbox funding will help us complete the development of our product and ensure that we meet the target date for getting to market.” 

Billdrill is a website where customers can submit how much they pay for TV, internet, cell phone and home security services and compare their rates against the rates of other providers in the area.

“Funding from the Sandbox is a dream come true,” said Joe DeMarco, Billdrill owner. “As valuable as the actual funds are, it also shows us that other successful business leaders in the Kansas City area believe in our business model and strategies. Knowing we have their support and that they see our long-term vision is incredibly valuable to us. We look forward to being a part of the growing Kansas City business community and adding new jobs to the local economy. This would not be possible without Digital Sandbox KC.”

Idle Smart is an automated engine start/stop solution that maintains trucking fleet uptime by keeping batteries charged and engines warm, as well as reducing overnight idle time and fuel emissions.

Idle Smart received funding from the Energy Sandbox, a partnership between Digital Sandbox KC and GXP Investments (part of Great Plains Energy, the parent company of KCP&L). Launched in summer 2016, the Energy Sandbox supports emerging startups and established companies located within or near the KCP&L service area with innovative concepts focused on the energy sector. 

“Receiving funding from the Energy Sandbox will allow us to capture a large, new market opportunity and to accelerate our growth even further,” said Ryan Bennett, Idle Smart co-founder.

Luxe is a provider of amenity services for multi-family housing communities. The Luxe mobile app offers apartment communities a concierge platform for residents to seamlessly book and manage apartment tailored services.

“The funding from Digital Sandbox KC allows us to really accelerate our development, helping us improve and upgrade our concierge platform to get to the next stage of growth,” said Richard McCoy, Luxe co-founder and CEO.

Launched in February 2013, Digital Sandbox KC has worked with more than 400 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the metro area. 

Results for Digital Sandbox KC thus far have included:
• 90 proof-of-concept projects funded for area startups
• More than $1.7M in project funding grants 
• More than 480 new jobs created with more than $12 million in payroll 
• $38,265,600 in follow-on funding

Digital Sandbox KC reviews application 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. 

Currently, funding is available for Kansas City area companies in Missouri and Olathe, Kansas. The City of St. Joseph recently launched a special project with Digital Sandbox KC aimed at its residents. Visit to submit an idea and learn more about Sandbox programs.