Our Class of 2015 culminated last Friday, April 10th, with Demo Day. Each of the 10 companies who have participated in our accelerator program over the last few months took the stage at the World War I Museum to pitch their products to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters, mentors, and investors. I'm glad to say that these innovative entrepreneurs and their products were a hit!
Setting the Stage for Success
Before our companies took the stage to present their pitches, we heard from keynote speaker Ryan Weber, the President of KCnext – The Technology Council of Greater Kansas City. Ryan spoke eloquently about the way Kansas City presents itself on the national stage. "This isn't flyover country — we're right in the middle of everything, and that's a powerful position to be in," he said. Our increasing prominence in the conversation about technology and entrepreneurship isn't an accident, it's because people like Ryan work hard to spread the word about the exciting work that's happening in Kansas City, and because programs like SparkLabKC give local innovators the resources and opportunity to build their dreams.
Ryan Weber presents the keynote speech at Demo Day 2015.
Ryan made a compelling point about the rise of innovative cities. Looking back to Seattle in the 1990's and Austin in the 2000's, he emphasized the intersection of the arts and technology as a driving factor in those cities' development into the cultural and business hubs they are today. Kansas City is on the same track — for proof of that, he said, we only need to look at the Crossroads District, where startup technology and design offices mingle with art galleries, first-rate restaurants, coffee shops, and theaters.
It's an exciting time for emerging businesses in Kansas City, and SparkLabKC couldn't be prouder to be a rallying point for this community of innovators and disruptors.
It's just not possible to capture the magic that happens on that Demo Day stage in words, but I want to congratulate each and every one of our teams on their great work last Friday. Pitching to a big crowd on a huge stage is no easy feat and not everyone is a naturally gifted public speaker. But our teams' hard work and focus paid off in each and every one of their presentations. They were clear and compelling as they made a case for investment in their products.
Erika Klotz of PopBookings gives a dynamic presentation on Demo Day 2015.
Our Pitch Coaches Julie Edge and Vincent Wagner of Creelio made a huge impact on the quality of the Demo Day presentations, as did the fantastic graphic designers who worked with our teams. If you missed it before, check out their thoughts on Preparing for Demo Day.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
As each of our past three startup classes has concluded, it's been amazing to take a step back and reflect on all of the amazing people who come together every year to make SparkLabKC happen. They give their time, money, and knowledge to advance entrepreneurship and innovation in Kansas City. Not only are they invaluable resources to our startup teams, they are contributing to an environment of collaboration, support, and enthusiasm that enriches the entire ecosystem of our business community.
And to our Class of 2015 — it's been a great pleasure to help you grow. Your energy, drive, and intelligence is inspiring. We look forward to celebrating your success!
Did you attend SparkLabKC's Demo Day 2015? Share your thoughts by tweeting @SparkLabKC!
Thanks to T. Maxwell Wagner for the photographs!