More Than 400 Participants Crawl Kansas City's Startup Scene
Friday, February 8th marked the date of Kansas City's first ever Startup Crawl—a collaboration between Red Nova Labs's Venture Friday meetup group and five additional startup-support organizations around Crossroads, Plaza and Westwood.
About 50 startups showcased their work and more than 400 participants “crawled”.
Locations included Red Nova Labs, KC Startup Village, Kauffman Foundation, Think Big Partners, Office Port and BetaBlox. Five Overland Park Limo coaches looped the route, picking up from each spot on the half-hour mark from 4:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.
“Venture Fridays is a Kansas City-based networking group that encourages locals with entrepreneurial bent to come out of the woodwork, meet and learn from one another,” said Carrie Royce, chief planner of the Startup Crawl and Red Nova Labs CMO. “The goal of the city’s first Startup Crawl was to unite many more groups and locals toward that objective. It was a bit of an experiment, so I was elated that it ran so smoothly. It encouraged wider-spread interest in upstarts, and based on conversations in the social ether, it looks like people had a great time all around.”
A handful of the Red Nova Labs employees left their usual Venture Friday hub to join the revels. Matt Friederich of the company's business development team hopped on a shuttle to explore the other stops. "I can't count the number of new faces I met, the interesting ideas and experiences many of them shared with me, and the amount of times I heard them describe how awesome the Startup Crawl was."
Robert Zhou, Red Nova Labs' CTO, shared his belief that "the Startup Crawl was the best way to get a complete sample of the entire startup ecosystem that is quickly developing in the Silicon Prairie." The crawl presented a fun-filled atmosphere where Viking and LED cowboy hats were the norm. It was a casual way to network with a diverse mix of the industry's most successful entrepreneurs. With the popularity of this month's event, another crawl is in the works for the future; however, the date is still undetermined.
The entrepreneurial good times weren't limited to Red Nova Labs' building either. “We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and more importantly by the enthusiasm they showed for the startup community in Kansas City. All night long there were conversations that started out as introductions and ended up with opportunities for collaboration," said Tyler Prochnow, Co-Founder ofThink Big Partners, a stop on the Crawl located in the Crossroads district. "Perhaps more than any event in awhile, the Startup Crawl provided concrete evidence that the entrepreneurial spirit in Kansas City is at an all time high.”
"Kansas City is a great place for upstarts,” said Royce. “We’re no Silicon Valley, and in many ways that’s a good thing. There’s as much ‘do’ as ‘say’ here in the Midwest.”