4 KC-Area Startups Receive Digital Sandbox KC $20K in Project Funding

4 KC-Area Startups Receive Digital Sandbox KC $20K in Project Funding

Digital Sandbox KC completed its first-quarter 2023 application cycle, adding four new companies to its early-stage project funding roster. 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 four new companies, has been awarded to a total 185 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.

“Early-stage funding is vital to ensuring that young startups survive, so Digital Sandbox KC is honored to be one of the few organizations in Kansas City that fuels innovations now so they can grow and land additional funding in the future,” 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. “Not only do Sandbox companies receive early-stage project funding, but the program also helps founders ensure they’re ready to connect with key people in the tech pipeline who can accelerate their innovations.”

Meet the latest startups to receive up to $20,000 each in project funding from Digital Sandbox KC for its first-quarter application cycle for 2023. These four Sandbox companies represent digital solutions around help for supply chain issues, sports education, people with disabilities and mental health.

Digital Sandbox KC is honored to support these new awardees. The Sandbox is accepting new applications for presentations for its second-quarter 2023 cycle. Visit digitalsandboxkc.org for more information and to submit an idea.

Heft IQ Inc.
Kansas City, Kansas

HEFT IQ’s goal is to become the operating system that grows small and medium brands into the next generation of big brands. The company plans to do this by providing advanced analytics and real-time insights to grow businesses while extracting away the operational lift to manage warehousing and fulfillment partners to achieve last-mile delivery capabilities.

“Digital Sandbox KC funding will accelerate the refining and deployment of key machine learning models into production,” says CEO Learie Hercules.


Mpruv Sports
Basehor, Kansas

Mpruv Sports is releasing a series of peer-to-peer, on-demand, sports education marketplaces. The first app is Mpruv Golf, where users can get instant, on-demand, peer-to-peer golf lessons, where anyone can coach, and anyone can learn.

“Funding from Digital Sandbox KC will be instrumental in making key functionality upgrades and implementing security metrics to make the user experience safer and easier,” says founder and CEO Mark Lukenbill. “ This will allow us to scale our user count and bring our mission and value nationwide.”


Pickle Systems Inc.
Prairie Village, Kansas

Pickle Systems features animated video models that teach daily living skills to individuals with disabilities.

“Digital Sandbox KC funding will help us create more content to help individuals with disabilities and help our business add essential functions to our site to assist educators, practitioners and parents when teaching these crucial life skills,” says co-founder and CEO Molly Oshinski and co-founder and COO Morgan Marquez. “The Sandbox is helping us make a difference and improve the lives of individuals with disabilities in Kansas City.”


Raise Health Innovations
Kansas City, Missouri

Raise Health Innovations is improving mental health and impacting lives through the use of edge technologies in proactive ways before a health crisis occurs. The company is delivering innovative societal solutions that change the trajectory of the lives who need it most.

“We are grateful for the proud entrepreneurial spirit and support in Kansas City and especially Digital Sandbox KC for believing in us and helping us leap from prototype to scaled and fully integrated delivery of solutions that impact lives,” says Craig Mason, founder and CEO.

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, Technology Venture Studio, SourceLink, MOSourceLink and KCSourceLink. Learn more at UMKCinnovates.com.