Babir Sultan came to America in 2001 from Pakistan, looking to live the American Dream. He started in New York City, working construction just to pay the bills. His real passion, however, was computer networking.
KANSAS CITY BUSINESS JOURNAL
Kansas City-based Life Equals LLC has found nutrients to grow its business with a recent funding round.
The vitamin company landed more than $100,000 from several area private investors that will allow it to revamp its e-commerce platform and add two employees.
KANSAS CITY BUSINESS JOURNAL
An area tech giant is keeping its investment dollars local with its backing of Kansas City-based CouponCloud Inc.
DST Systems Inc. invested an undisclosed amount in the tech startup, which created a cloud-based platform to manage coupons for manufacturers and retailers.
BY MARK DAVIS
THE KANSAS CITY STAR
The 2015 class of SparkLabKC has begun the three-month push that ends with April 10 presentations to potential investors, the business accelerator program said.
Each of the 10 companies hails from the Kansas City region and will receive up to $18,000 in financing, free workspace, legal, accounting and financial advisory services, and help from mentors in various industries.
by Brian McTavish
January 14, 2015
Kansas City business accelerator SparkLabKC has chosen 10 companies for its third class of participating startups: College Sports USA, Kookiedoodle Crafts, Lazser Down, OliveMonday, PopBookings, Rock-it Launcher, Royal Loyal, the Swapping Company, Talk2Me and VeriQuik.
“We are very impressed with the applicant quality and the diverse nature of this class,” said Kevin Fryer, SparkLabKC managing director, in a release. “As a group, these companies have well-developed products and are at the point of operationalizing their businesses.
In 1999, when Kyle Rogers was 13, he turned to his mom during a KU basketball game and predicted a Jayhawk national title in four years. In 2003, they made it to the championship but lost to Syracuse.
When he reminded her of his failed prediction, she didn’t remember. With that nagging memory in mind, Rogers and Knoda co-founder James Flexman have created a phone app that allows users to conquer their mothers’ doubts and say with proof, “I told you so!”
Students use donated money to make real investments in startup companies.
Story by Erik Potter
Published Oct. 3, 2014
People make predictions all the time, but they tend to remember only the ones they got right. Kansas City-based Knoda helps keep score. The website and smartphone app lets people make their predictions public and track their results.
The students managing the Trulaske College of Business’ Allen Angel Capital Education Fund are predicting — to the tune of $50,000 — it will be a hit.
The Kansas City Royals’ toppling of a nearly three-decade playoff drought has produced a flurry of fanatical wagers and pacts.
Kyle Rogers, CEO of Knoda LLC, said the startup that created a social medium allowing users to make, track and rank predictions has seen a 30 percent increase in traffic since the Royals qualified for the playoffs. Often, the Mission-based company will see a traffic bump around major sports’ playoffs season, he said, but it’s seeing a particular Royals’ bent this season.
“We’ve seen all kinds of Royals stuff,” Rogers said. “We’ve definitely seen a ton of activity. People are obviously super excited around town, and we’re seeing that in our stuff as well.”
Launched in 2013, the Knoda platform allows users to make predictions or bets even years in advance. As such, the Knoda team is seeing many older Royals-related wagers’ conclude.
“A lot of predictions that have been made all season are being resolved because we’re finding out that the team actually did make (the playoffs),” he said. “We’re getting new stuff, and we also have the ongoing things coming to a conclusion.”
Kevin Fryer and his business partners presumed that Google’s decision to make Kansas City the nation’s first test market for Google Fiber, the company’s ultra-fast broadband service, would provide opportunities for new Internet technology businesses.
“So we kept brainstorming and brainstorming, and we couldn’t decide on anything for Google,” Fryer said. “So we decided to do a business accelerator instead.”
That was three years ago, Fryer explained, at a time when Techstars, Y Combinator and other technology business accelerators were already spawning highly successful ventures. Fryer and his co-founders interviewed the operators of eight accelerators from around the country to determine best practices and picked their brains about lessons learned.
The resulting accelerator, SparkLabKC, now has 36 angel investors and about 100 mentors, along with 16 corporate or university partners or sponsors.
On April 21, SparkLabKC’s second class of 10 startups completed the 90-day program, and half of the graduating companies have received additional seed funding or are already generating revenue.
“It’s our job to help these companies become successful because, if we don’t help them become successful, we don’t make a dime,” Fryer said of his accelerator, which gets a 6 percent equity stake in the participating companies. “It is a community effort. People have to be transparent and willing to help or it wouldn’t work. These hundred mentors that volunteer their time, they don’t gain anything out of this other than giving back. So it takes a lot of effort to get these startups up and running.”
"The first year people really didn't know what the value of the program would be, but our first class were our best marketers for the second one," Kevin Fryer, SparkLabKC managing director, told Silicon Prairie News. "They all went out and said how much they got out of it. It was much easier to recruit the second class because of that."
From 40 applicants, SparkLabKC whittled its second class down to 10 startups to participate in the 90-day business accelerator. The program now has close to 100 mentors, an asset that Fryer says greatly benefits the accelerator's startups and their ability to get connected.
"We were a startup last time," Fryer (right) said. "Now that we've done it once we're much more polished. We've got everything done and in place for the second group. You always get better the second time you do anything."
Each startup will receive up to $18,000 in seed capital and free workspace, along with legal, financial and accounting counsel.
"We had a lot of lessons learned, but I think the quality of the applications the second time around was much higher," Fryer said. "The startups tended to be much further along in their development. A lot had product done and some already had existing revenue streams."
After completing the program, the 10 companies will pitch their businesses to investors and members of the community at a demo day on April 11.
SparkLabKC second class (Jan. 11 - April 11)
Learn more about the 10 companies participating in SparkLabKC's second class. (Descriptions from company websites or Twitter bios).
BuzzMeDo connects businesses and consumers like never before. Combining the best mobile tools with great local coupons, BuzzMeDo links smart brands and savvy consumers in one perfect package.
CouponCloud is an enterprise software solution for the CPG coupon industry.
Creelio is a tool that delivers original and sharable content, customized for your industry and business, directly to your smartphone, Twitter and blog.
Dewsly is a revolutionary platform that drives community within a school setting to increase student, parent and teacher collaboration.
With each purchase, Life Equals gives an equivalent amount of children's multivitamins to malnourished children worldwide.
Real-time analytics, heatmap suite, visitor recordings, chat system, user polling and more!
The Minute Movement is a program of easy workout exercises optimized to produce maximum results in a minimum amount of time.
1CapApp is a secured text streaming platform created by steno captioners for CART providers, captioners and court reporters.
5-in-1 wrap keeps you warm, dry and on-the-fly! Perfect for tailgaters, soccer and football parents, sports fans, camping, fishing, movies and theaters.
UChic is an online magazine and community that aims to inspire high school and collegiate women to live their dreams.
Credits: Kevin Fryer photo from SparkLabKC.
Reporter- Kansas City Business Journal
SparkLabKC is welcoming 10 new companies for its second startup class.
The in-residence business accelerator program includes seed capital and access to mentors and advisory services.
The 2014 class includes: BuzzMeDo, CouponCloud, Creelio, Dewsly Media, Life Equals, Lucky Orange, Minute Movement, 1CapApp, Toasty Totes and UChic.
"We are very impressed with the applicant quality for our second class," Kevin Fryer, SparkLabKC managing director, said in a release. "As a group, these companies are well-developed organizations. Several have raised seed capital, and many have revenue."
Companies in the program have access to a free workspace, more than 80 mentors, legal and financial services, and can receive as much as $18,000 in seed capital.
The three-month program will begin Monday. Past graduates of SparkLabKC include Prairie Village-based The Briefcase LLC, which recently won at least $100,000 in financing, and Kansas City-based Knoda LLC.
NOVEMBER 27, 2013 by FRED BAUTERS
New ventures always come with their fair share of risk, so it always helps to get an early boost. SparkLabKC, an accelerator for early-stage tech startups, got its start less than a year ago, but already has some momentum to take into its second class.
Managing director Kevin Fryer told Silicon Prairie News that the first class exceeded expectations and continues to build upon what they learned. Knoda recently announced its seed round, and he said Briefcase, FormZapper and FanAddict combined have secured more than $1.8 million in seed funding—one other is in the process of finalizing a round.
Kansas City-based startup Knoda announced that it secured seed funding from a local angel investor, allowing it to hire four full-time employees to complete development of its new iPhone application.
Knoda's application tracks all different kinds of predictions that humans make, then rates and ranks the people making those predictions.
BY MARK DAVIS
The Kansas City Star
A local private investor has provided funding for Knoda, a Kansas City-based startup business working on a prediction app.
Kyle Rogers, co-founder and chief executive officer, would not disclose the terms of the investment or identify the investor, but he said it provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in capital. It means Knoda — silent K and rhymes with soda — will be able to hire two developers, pay operating costs such as for computer servers and make a marketing effort, Rogers said.
NOVEMBER 6, 2013 by FRED BAUTERS
Kyle Rogers knew in 1999 that his Kansas Jayhawks would win the national basketball championship in 2003 behind the likes of future first-round picks Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison. In passing, told his mom. Four years later, KU lost by three points in that game. He came close, and though he missed, he remembered telling his mom of his prediction years before.
"Of course, she didn't remember a one-liner from me four years ago," Rogers told Silicon Prairie News. "But that stuck with me."
The seed for his current Kansas City-based prediction startup, Knoda, was planted. It would take him eight years to get to a point where he could execute on the idea—coming in second at a Startup Weekendin 2011, then formally exploring the company with co-founder James Flexman about a year later.
Published on Oct 24, 2013
Kansas City wants to be the greatest place in America for entrepreneurs. When the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce last year launched a series of public listening sessions on the issue, they found that one of the biggest obstacles for start-ups is finding the capital to grow their businesses. Enter Spark Lab KC. Private investors are pooling their resources together to help Kansas City start ups and, as KCPT 's Kyle Geary reports, a whole lot more. Sparklab KC is now taking applications for its next class which starts January 2014. By the way, more money is being thrown at start ups in Kansas City. The Greater Kansas City Chamber recently announcing, as part of its BIG 5 initiative, the Fly Over Capital fund, where well-heeled investors have now pledged more than 25 million dollars to help local entrepreneurs.
This morning, at the World War I Museum in downtown Kansas City, 10 passionate entrepreneurs introduced their products to an energized audience of angel investors and venture capitalists. It was “Demo Day,” the culminating event of the first SparkLabKC accelerator program.
In his introductory remarks, founder and managing director Kevin Fryer spoke about the “Kansas City Way,” saying, “It’s a given around here that you’ll give back.”