Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why Kansas City Needs High Collision Density (And How We Can Get It)

It’s no secret that certain cities across the United States are “the place to be,” especially for entrepreneurs. We all hear about the startup successes in Silicon Valley, Boulder, Austin and Silicon Alley. But have you ever wondered why these cities are experiencing a startup boom? According to recent research, it probably has something to do with a little thing called “collision density”. 

What is Collision Density?

Collision density can be defined as the level of collisions made between entrepreneurs, investors and connectors in a single area. The higher an area’s collision density is, the more quickly and efficiently innovative development can occur. Therefore, the more collision density a city has, the better.

Collision Density in Kansas City

While entrepreneurship hotbeds like Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Boulder, and Austin have high rates of collision density, Kansas City’s is rather low. One of America’s most famous entrepreneurs, Philip Rosedale, has even noted that “collision density is 20 times less likely to occur in Kansas City than it is in San Francisco”. In our opinion, that is 20 times too many.

Kansas City’s lack of collision density doesn’t just hurt our local entrepreneurs. It can also negatively affect the KC economy. Without collision density, innovation is stopped in its tracks. Without collision density, people can’t meet and ideas can’t be acted upon. Without collision density, communities–and society, for that matter–can’t progress.

We aren’t the only ones bothered by KC’s lack of collision density. Some of Kansas City’s entrepreneurial leaders are also concerned. In a recent Silicon Prairie News article, leaders like Jo Anne Gabbert, president of JAG Portfolio services and Maria Meyers, CEO of U.S. SourceLink and KCSourceLink, bring awareness to the collision density problem.

In the article, Gabbert said, “What we think the future looks like is making sure [Kansas City’s assets like funding and community support] are all connected and interconnected in that ecosystem so it's very easy for an entrepreneur to navigate the Kansas City ecosystem. Yet somehow they're a bit fragmented or dysfunctional at times."

Myers adds that “One of the things that Kansas City's looking at is not so much that dearth of funding, but better organizing what's here."

But the future isn’t hopeless. According to Rosedale “it seems likely that [Omaha, Kansas City, and Des Moines] actually could have a vibrant/growing startup community, if only it could establish this high level of communication and proximity between a good number of its tech people.”

Increasing Kansas City’s Collision Density

So what can we do about Kansas City’s low collision density? We can start getting the entrepreneurs, innovators and investors together under one roof. Think Big Partners and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce hopes to bring these like-minded individuals together for iKC: the Unconference this October.

This unconference is like a regular conference, only better. It lacks a formalized structure so ideas and information can flow freely between innovators, entrepreneurs and investors. In this way, all of the great thinkers in Kansas City and the surrounding area are together, realizing they should be together more often. Thus, an increase in Kansas City’s collision density.

This year’s iKC will be held on October 3, 2013 at the H&R Block World Headquarters. Until then, you can submit ideas, apply for the 1-on-1 program and buy tickets to help us increase Kansas City’s collision density.

Want to improve Kansas City’s collision density before @iKC2013? Contact Think Big Partners to get started!

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