Thursday, May 16, 2013

Top 11 Kansas City Startup Resources In 2013

A long time ago (and we mean a long time ago) we developed a top 10 list of some of the best online and offline resources for entrepreneurs and startups in Kansas City.  Now that almost three years have passed, it’s about time we update this list with some of the newest and best entrepreneur and startup resources in the Kansas City area.  You may notice three years ago, we had a list of just 10 resources.  This year, we are publishing 11—and you’ll also notice how different these lists are from one another.  A lot of things have changed in the past three years—especially when it comes to the progression and creation of new startup resources in the Kansas City area.

All of the following resources have been created to help entrepreneurs launch successful startups and businesses.  So if you’re a serious KC entrepreneur looking for some small business help, check out one (or all) of these resources to determine which one is right for you (don’t feel like reading? Listen to our podcast episode instead!): 


1. The Kauffman Foundation

Back in 2010, The Kauffman Foundation was one of our top picks as a KC startup resource—and the organization has remained on top to this day.  The well-known and successful track record of the Kauffman Foundation is famous throughout the world.  The organization provides education and training (i.e. the FastTrac program) for entrepreneurs.  In addition, Kauffman promotes entrepreneurship-friendly policies to better facilitate the commercialization of new technologies.  In recent years, the Kauffman Foundation has boosted its involvement in startups even further by sponsoring Startup Weekend as well as 1 Million Cups.

2. Kansas and Missouri Universities and Colleges

Three years ago, we also made sure to add various Kansas and Missouri universities and colleges into our list of KC startup resources.  Today, we continue to add them to the top of our list because of their growing number of diverse programs for entrepreneurs and startups.  Below are just a few of the schools that provide strong entrepreneurship programs:

3. Think Big Partners

We don’t mean to toot our own horns (or do we?) but Think Big Partners has seen exponential growth throughout the past 3 years not just in Kansas City, but across the nation.  Think Big Partners has gone from being known as a “business incubator/startup accelerator” to more of an “idea factory”—providing essential tools for local and nationwide startups.  With services and resources such as the Think Big Coworking (the company’s coworking space), entrepreneur-focused events (i.e. Hackovate Health, The Gigabit Challenge and iKC 2012 and 2013—coming soon), the Think Big Accelerator program, Think Big Ventures and many other initiatives, Think Big is continuing to build Kansas City into a hub for startups, tech and innovation.

4. Kansas City Coworking Spaces

Entrepreneurs can collaborate, mentor one another and meet other area-entrepreneurs at any of Kansas City’s many coworking spaces.  It seems as if coworking spaces are popping up all over town—and for good reason.  Kansas City needs a place for the growing number of entrepreneurs to go.  Some of these Kansas City coworking spaces include:

5. Startup Village

Perhaps Kansas City’s newest “startup resource” is Startup Village, an entrepreneur-led, organic, grassroots initiative helping to bolster the Kansas City entrepreneur and startup community.  The mission of Startup Village is to create a concentrated and collaborative area of startup centered around the Google Fiber “fiberhoods”.   Currently, KC startups such as Leap2, FormZapper, Pipeline, CaddyX, EyeVerify, Handprint, SquareOffs and many others office in Startup Village.
Homes For Hackers is another startup that currently “offices” in Startup Village (and could be considered an entrepreneur resource in itself!).  Homes for Hackers provides 3 months of rent-free, Google Fiber-connected startup space to area entrepreneurs. 

6. Civic Leadership
There are many civic organizations and non-profits supported by the City of KCMO to help entrepreneurs.  Some of these organizations include:
  • The Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City (EDC): Collaborates with the City of KCMO and other organizations to project a local identity and ensure a competitive, vibrant and self-sustaining economy. 
  • The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce: The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce gives entrepreneurs the voice and resources they need to operate successful businesses within the region.  For small business owners in particular, the Chamber provides research and forecasts, networking events, global trade resources and leadership opportunities.
  • Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC): A private, non-profit organization that represents the economic interests in the 18-county region of Kansas City.  Under the KCADC umbrella is KCNext, the Technology Council of Greater Kansas City, which focuses on growing the existing base of technology firms, recruiting and attracting technology companies and aggregating and promoting regional IT assets. 
  • KCBizCare: KCBizCare is the City of Kansas City’s business customer service center.  KCBizCare provides entrepreneurs with information and assistance in understanding and complying with city, state and federal requirements of operating a business.  The entrepreneur-focused part of KCBizCare is LaunchKC, a strategic initiative designed to attract and develop IT entrepreneurs and professionals to the thriving information technology community throughout Kansas City. 

7. Ennovation Center

In our previous list, the Ennovation Center rounded out at #10.  But we hear more and more about the Ennovation Center every single day.  Located in Independence, Missouri, Ennovation Center focuses on three core areas for the development of new business: bio-tech, kitchen and business & technology.  Ennovation Center provides professional facilities, administrative services, business & financing assistance as well as a vast list of resources.  We recommend the Ennovation Center for any food entrepreneurs out there!

8. KCSourceLink

If you’re a budding entrepreneur, be sure to visit KCSourceLink before you get started.  This online (and offline) resource’s mission is to help small businesses in the 18-county Kansas City region grow and succeed.  With 170+ nonprofit resource organizations that provide business-building services, KCSourceLink truly facilitates the linking of resource organizations to one another and to established, emerging and startup small businesses throughout the region.

9. The Enterprise Center of Johnson County

The Enterprise Center of Johnson County (also known as ECJC) has the goal of stimulating business creation and employment in the region by providing resources and services to early-stage, high-return, high-growth companies.  Currently, ECJC boasts 31 current client and affiliate companies and has helped to create 904 new jobs in the KC metro area.

10. OneKC for Women

Kansas City boasts some very powerful women-focused entrepreneurial resources such as OneKC for Women (made up of the Women’s Business Center, the Women’s Employment Network and Women’s Capital Connection).  OneKC is made up of powerful advocates for women and are committed to assisting women on their quest for personal, professional and financial self-sufficiency.

11. Silicon Prairie News

Perhaps you’re not ready to make the entrepreneurial dive—but you do want to read up on area startup news and attend entrepreneurial events to dip your toe in.  That’s exactly where Silicon Prairie News comes into play.  This online resource provides the top news stories for what’s going on in entrepreneurship in the “Silicon Prairie” region (primarily Kansas City, Omaha and Des Moines).  Read up on startup news and attend any Silicon Prairie event to learn more about what KC-area entrepreneurs are up to. 

We would like to thank all of the above Kansas City resources for Thinking Big and providing help for all of our entrepreneurs.  Here’s to three more years of success in Kansas City! 

* Think Big Partners created this list to the best of our knowledge.  If you think a Kansas City startup resource is missing on this list, please add your thoughts to the comments section below. 

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