5 Digital Sandbox KC Newcomers are Poised to Shake Up Kansas City’s Startup EcosystemDana Masters
Digital Sandbox KC completed its first-quarter 2022 application cycle, adding five new companies to its roster and connecting them to investors, resources and other founders in Kansas City’s thriving startup network so they can scale the innovations of tomorrow.
Meet the latest five startups to receive $20,000 each in project funding, bringing the total number of funded Sandbox companies to 165.
Workplace Healing — Leawood, Kansas
Workplace Healing LLC created the revolutionary Human Recovery PlanTM Software Platform, a B2B SaaS tool, to provide corporate leaders, managers and care teams with the empathetic muscle necessary to support employees affected by life disruptions. The Human Recovery Plan relies on the unique balance of both head- and heart-based initiatives to restore an employee’s productivity following a grief event.
“Being selected as a Digital Sandbox KC’s fund recipient allows us to further enhance our software for expansion to additional corporate audiences,” said co-founder Mindy Corporon. “The recognition from the Sandbox’s strong network of local entrepreneurs and corporate leaders will continue to strengthen our brand and company growth model.”
Foothold Labs — Olathe, Kansas
The mission of Foothold Labs is to develop next generation rapid diagnostic systems that provide laboratory quality capabilities in the field for the military, health care technicians and first responders. Foothold Labs was funded through Digital Sandbox KC’s partnership with the city of Olathe and the Olathe Chamber of Commerce.
“Project funding from Digital Sandbox KC will allow us to purchase more of our NanoRev System prototypes, which allows us to quickly create more data for our projects,” said Foothold Labs CEO Sean McIntosh. “We can now spend more time on other aspects of our technology and business because of the Sandbox.”
DataSource — Kansas City, Missouri
DataSource is building a better and more efficient world through data by optimizing logistics networks and industries to reduce costs and carbon emissions.
“This money will be a game changer for DataSource,” said CEO Tyler Bolz. “It will allow the company to increase its rate of innovation and allow us to build interfaces that will bring our technology to the masses.”
DataAppraisal — Overland Park, Kansas
DataAppraisal’s automated proprietary solution helps companies discover the monetary value in their data assets, allowing them to engage in new revenue opportunities without the risk of being undervalued.
“We would be the first to market with a SaaS product in an area with no competition,” said CEO and co-founder Tam Tran. “In this nascent market, DataAppraisal Inc. strives to become the market leader, pursue investments and grow our customer base. There will be a strong focus on growth and customers to improve the predictive power of our proprietary algorithm.”
VaccineAssist — Lee’s Summit, Missouri
VaccineAssist is a public health platform intended to create a personalized vaccine experience for patients and to help vaccine providers optimize their workflows and patient engagement.
“Assistance from Digital Sandbox will support the platform buildout aiming to enhance connectivity between patients and vaccine providers,” said founder and CEO Nick Bennett.
In addition to project funding, Digital Sandbox KC fosters connections by introducing founders to experts and investors, facilitating peer-to-peer entrepreneur roundtables and hosting ongoing conversations, like Black Women in Tech.
“Early-stage funding is just one piece of the puzzle that helps our founders succeed and our startups accelerate toward commercialization and follow-on funding,” said Jill Meyer, senior director of Technology Venture Studio, which houses Digital Sandbox KC as well as Whiteboard 2 Boardroom and KCInvestED. “For the Technology Venture Studio, focused connections and intertwined support from founders, funders and advisers are foundational to driving success for the awardees.”
The startup support network — the organizations and institutions that make up an “ecosystem” — is vital for startups to thrive. But how can we truly measure a startup ecosystem’s success? Here’s one method: how the people — founders, funders and advisers — intentionally connect and support one another.
As part of UMKC Innovation Center’s Technology Venture Studio, the Sandbox supports early-stage startups not only with project funding, but also with panels of experts during Summer in the Sand, as well as founder roundtables, where entrepreneurs are introduced to peer networks of support; referrals to other transformation funding and programs, like Comeback KC, Launch KC, Pure Pitch Rally, Pipeline and others; intentional connections to regional and national angels and venture capitalists for follow-on funding; and exposure to cutting-edge technologies emerging from our partner research institutions in the region.
“We’re thrilled to continue to support high-potential companies at this early stage, and we couldn’t do it without the stakeholders and funders who make funding and connecting these startups possible,” Meyer said. “Connecting founders to expertise, resources and to one another is key, and joining the Sandbox is a great way to help drive growth past the early stages of running a startup.”
In short, it takes a village. As part of the UMKC Innovation Center’s Technology Venture Studio, Digital Sandbox KC helps move early-stage innovations from concept to reality—all to create jobs and economic impact, attract more equity funding to the region and establish Kansas City as a tech hub.
Since the program’s inception in 2013, Digital Sandbox KC has provided project-development funding for 165 area startups, which has spurred $162 million in total follow-on funding.
Digital Sandbox KC is honored to support these five new awardees and is accepting new applications for its second-quarter 2022 cycle and presentations. Visit digitalsandboxkc.org for more information and to submit an idea.
About Digital Sandbox KC
Digital Sandbox KC, a program of the UMKC Innovation Center, is an unprecedented partnership among private companies, universities, entrepreneurial support organizations and government agencies across the Kansas City region and is designed to spur the creation of high-growth companies. The Sandbox provides proof-of-concept resources, including market validation, prototyping and beta testing support to develop digital technologies within new and existing businesses.
About the UMKC Innovation Center
From whiteboard to boardroom, the UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country. With a suite of high-impact programs, the center helps emerging and existing business owners — whether they are students, faculty or community members — hone their business basics, evaluate commercialization opportunities and connect with the right resources at the right time. Innovation Center programs include the Missouri Small Business Development Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Whiteboard2Boardroom, Digital Sandbox KC, ScaleUP! Kansas City, Growth360, SourceLink, MOSourceLink and KCSourceLink.