Of the hundreds of startups that have launched in Kansas City in the past few years, very few of them have received funding. Is it because there is a lack of capital in Kansas City? Is it because angels and VCs simply aren’t funding at the rate that they used to? Or is it because the startups are not living up to funder expectations? We can only speculate. But for those innovative and smart enough to raise capital here in the Midwest, we applaud you.
Which brings us to a list of startup companies that have successfully raised capital here in Kansas City:
EyeVerify enables mobile users to authorize transactions and access information in a manner that is secure, scalable and convenient through eye vein biometrics. EyeVerify raised $1.4 million in the spring of 2012 from Think Big Ventures, The Nebraska Angels, Mid-America Angels and various individual investors. Later in the spring of 2013, EyeVerify closed a $2.3 million Series A round. The funds have been used to accelerate the startup’s deployments with customers, add features for the financial sector and grow the marketing sales team.
Leap2 is a search platform that delivers web social, news, images and local results with one single search. Leap2 closed a $280,000 seed round of funding in 2012 and raised $80,000 from friends and family. Later in 2012, Leap2 brought in another $200,000 from previous investors as well as Thad Langford (founder of Zave Networks), Aaron McKee (Sprint) and an un-named partner at OpenAir Equity Partners. In April of 2013, Leap2 announced that it had raised $1.6 million in new funding in order to release new versions of its iOS and Android app. Leap2’s newest round of funding has been led by Dundee Venture Capital with participation from OpenAir Equity, Linseed Capital and Wichita Technology Corporation.
PlanetReuse is a consulting and brokering company focused on matching reclaimed building material with designers, builders and owners across the globe. In addition to its online marketplace platform, PlanetReuse also stood up InvenQuery, a startup that provides technology to help retailers of unique merchandise handle inventory, point-of-sale and ecommerce.
In September of 2012, PlanetReuse received a $250,000 grant from Chase and LivingSocial for the Mission: Small Business program. The company used these funds to build awareness of the reuse industry and to promote PlanetReuse Marketplace. Additionally, in November of 2012, a $650,000 Series A funding raise from Dundee Venture Capital helped InvenQuery enhance its technology and customer outreach. Earlier that year, the startup received angel funding of $450,000, bringing its total capital raised to $1.1 million.
4. Front Flip
Front Flip helps businesses create profitable relationships with customers through experiences, instant promotions, rich customer analytics and targeted mobile campaigns. In January of 2012, Front Flip received $3.95 million in Series A funding. The startup then received another $3.75 million in Series B funding in January of 2013. Front Flip’s Series B funding was led by Jon Darbyshire, executive chairman of the Archer Foundation and also included Peter Brown (AMC Entertainment Inc.), Gary Fish (FishNet Security), Lance Melber (eSmartloan.com) and The Brandmeyer family (Enturia). In addition, Front Flip received $550,000 in partial close funding in October of 2012. To date, Front Flip has received $8.25 million in funding.
Zaarly, one Kansas City’s more well-known startups, is an online platform and app that connects buyers and shoppers with local storefront owners. In March of 2011, Zaarly received $1 million in seed funding from many notable investors including Ashton Kutcher, Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit and Lightback and others. Zaarly raised another $14.2 million in Series A funding in October of 2011 from Kleiner Perkins and Sands Capital Ventures, among others. Zaarly has utilized this capital to invest in its operations and technical development as well as hire employees for connecting buyers and sellers in each specific market.
Truckily is a marketing and location software for food trucks. In June of 2013, Truckily received $120,000 in seed funding from Gravity Ventures (Fayetteville, Arkansas) and Kea Ventures (Branson, Missouri). The rest of Truckily’s capital will be rasied through friends and family. Truckily founders plan to use the seed funding to open the platform to other areas and build an Android version of the app.
Trellie is one of the few Kansas City companies that was successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign. The startup posted a video and photos of its product (a fashion accessory that notifies a user of incoming and missed calls through a flashing LED light attached to a purse) on Kickstarter hoping to raise $30,000. The campaign drew in 515 backers who pledged $33,168.