Next 5 KC-area startups receive Digital Sandbox KC early-stage project funding and support to fuel innovationsDana Masters
Digital Sandbox KC completed its fourth-quarter 2022 application cycle, adding five new companies to its early-stage project funding roster. One of these five is a fellow of Comeback KC Ventures and is working on technologies and innovations that aim to solve issues created by the pandemic. Digital Sandbox KC connects early-stage founders to investors, resources and other founders in Kansas City’s startup network to help them scale their innovations to market.
Since Digital Sandbox KC’s inception in 2013, the program has had an immense impact on the startups it works with. With a total of over $3 million in proof-of-concept project funding, which, including these five new companies, has been awarded to a total 181 KC-area startups, Sandbox companies have gone on to raise nearly $200 million in follow-on funding. In fact, 33 Sandbox startups have raised over $1 million in follow-on funding, and 27 have achieved more than $1 million in sales, according to the organization’s latest report.
“Early-stage funding is rare in Kansas City, so Digital Sandbox KC is proud to be one of the few to provide vital support to prime the pump and fuel innovations now so they can accelerate with additional funding later,” says Jill Meyer, senior director of Technology Venture Studio, which houses early-stage tech support and programs Digital Sandbox KC, Whiteboard 2 Boardroom, KCInvestED and Comeback KC Ventures. “Scaling past proof-of-concept is key so making these startups fundable provides a launchpad to help an idea take off once it’s built. It’s about more than funding: The Sandbox helps founders connect with investors, experts and more help in KC’s robust tech pipeline.”
Meet the latest startups to receive up to $20,000 each in project funding from Digital Sandbox KC for its fourth-quarter application cycle for 2022. Techne360 is working on projects as a fellow through Comeback KC Ventures, an EDA-funded partnership between the Technology Venture Studio (of which Digital Sandbox KC is a program) and Kansas City Digital Drive. The other four Sandbox companies represent digital solutions around help for disadvantaged youth; emergency medical services response; women’s nutrition during fertility, pregnancy and postpartum; and wealth-building through attainable homeownership.
Digital Sandbox KC and Comeback KC Ventures are honored to support these new awardees. The Sandbox is accepting new applications for presentations for its first-quarter 2023 cycle. Check out our submit an idea page for more information and to submit an idea.
Kansas City, Missouri
Diced Digital is developing a Web3-focused learn-to-earn experience that transforms disadvantaged 7th to 12th graders through fractional asset ownership. The company’s mission is to empower at-risk students by bridging trauma-informed, practical financial literacy and future-focused Web3 protocols with often-overlooked mindset and belief system awareness.
“Digital Sandbox KC’s funding support will help finance our Diced Digital MVP to present to school systems and additional funding resources as well as test student experience,” says Andray Napolez, founder and CEO of Diced Digital. “Being welcomed into the Sandbox and University of Missouri – Kansas City family, with accessibility to the accompanying resources and relationships, is the icing on the cake.”
Kansas City, Missouri
Folks Capital is an investment platform that delivers risk-adjusted returns for investors, builds wealth for people and provides sustainable impact for civic institutions. The company has a rare combination of institutional knowledge and practical experience with decades of experience in public policy, philanthropic program management, entrepreneurship, urban innovation, research and technology. By innovating upon traditional models, Folks Capital aligns the interests of all stakeholders toward mutually beneficial outcomes. The startup’s solutions unlock sustainable value through shared prosperity.
“Funding from Digital Sandbox KC will help us develop our technical capacity to scale our innovative investment structures,” says Evan Absher co-founder and CEO of Folks Capital.
Kansas City, Missouri
Glownar is a hardware and software product that will revolutionize how emergency medical services function. With Glownar’s hardware, EMS will be guided to your doorstep by light, and the software will ensure EMS receives pertinent information about you and your loved ones. With Glownar, families will be able to add information ahead of time to help EMS respond quicker, more efficiently and with personalized knowledge of the patient before arriving on scene. This will result in shorter response times, better scene safety and will help eliminate the errors and lack of information from a caller who is panicked or incapable of communicating.
“The grant from Digital Sandbox KC is a game-changer,” says Dani Hatch, founder and CEO of Glownar. “Hardware and software is very expensive, and an MVP is necessary to progress forward. Now, we will have the funds to do just that. Knowing the financial portion of these items will be covered, I am confident this grant will help us go to market much earlier than planned.”
Kansas City, Missouri
Marma is a platform that empowers women with personalized nutrition guidance during fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. The majority of pregnant people are nutritionally deficient, despite taking prenatal supplements. Marma nourishes birthing bodies with the evidence-based information they seek, all in one convenient mobile app.
“As we prepare to release our beta app, we’re thrilled to have the support of Digital Sandbox KC,” says Meredith Evans McAllister, co-founder and CEO of Marma Nutrition. “Not only do these funds come at a critical time of growth for our business, they will also make a significant impact in the lives of many women, mothers and birthing people who will soon have access to Marma.”
Techne360 LLC intends to harness the rapidly growing digital transformation that companies are undertaking by constructing “digital twins” of physical environments. The startup does this by using cutting-edge technology utilizing the company’s proprietary high-definition virtual-reality platform, which enables simultaneous workflow collaboration across global geographies in support of business-planning processes. Techne360 will also create an augmented-reality application allowing users to view and experience digital objects in real-life settings to bridge the gap between the real and the digital world. The company’s VR and AR platforms will also support integrated dynamic data analytics enabled by artificial intelligence, giving users the ability to visualize data in real-time.
The financial support of Digital Sandbox KC will be an essential component of the startup’s early-development process, says a founder of Techne360. The funding will enable the company to design and build a minimum viable product to serve as a technology demonstrator for its solution.
About Digital Sandbox KC
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 partner research institutions in the region.
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 that serve tech ventures, deliver entrepreneurial education and build our entrepreneurial ecosystem, the center helps emerging and existing business owners, including students, faculty and community members, to hone 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, the Technology Venture Studio, SourceLink, KCSourceLink. Learn more at UMKCinnovates.com.