CouponCloud Announces Financial Investment By DST Systems

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Fettchenhauer
Eidson & Partners/CouponCloud
812.369.5675
Jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com
                                                      
Laura M. Parsons
DST Global Public Relations
816.843.9087
mediarelations@dstsystems.com

Kansas City, MO February 4, 2015 CouponCloud, a cloud-based Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) coupon redemption and processing company, has announced receipt of an investment by Kansas City-based DST Systems. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

The investment positions CouponCloud to accelerate development of its retail component, which validates and reconciles grocery coupons at the point of sale. CouponCloud’s Coupon Management Platform is being released to select CPG and agency clients.

Over 300 billion paper coupons are issued annually in the U.S., and of those that are redeemed, the redemption process is long, expensive, and labor intensive. The current industry process still uses manual labor to sort, validate, count, and reconcile paper coupons. For the retail industry, this involves collecting redeemed coupons and shipping them to processors followed by a waiting period of weeks or months for reimbursement.

Matthew Simrell, CouponClouds CEO, noted, “When we founded this company, it was because we discovered an enormous opportunity to bring efficiency to this industry with technology. The investment by DST Systems enables us to take a significant step forward in our efforts to deliver an efficient cloud-based solution to market and revolutionize the antiquated processes still being used for redeeming coupons. Once implemented, many of our clients will see drastically reduced processing costs, shorter reimbursement times, and improved controls over coupon fraud.”

The company’s Coupon Management Platform works in tandem with its coupon redemption platform, which validates coupons when read by a retail point-of-sale system, charges manufacturers for the coupon face value, and reimburses retailers in real time. The platform is designed for high-speed, high-volume transactions.

According to Nick Doyle, Director of Business Development at DST, CouponCloud’s coupon processing services share certain parallels with DST’s processing services.

“Processing high volume transactions are an important part of both businesses,” said Doyle, “and we believe that DST and CouponCloud may be able to advise each other on strategies to extend and enhance both companies’ technological and processing capabilities.”

CPGs, retailers, and others interested in learning more about CouponCloud can contact the company via its website at couponcloud.com.

 

About CouponCloud: CouponCloud is an early stage technology company that provides Consumer Packaged Goods companies and retailers with a secure system to develop, administer, collect and redeem coupons. The company’s technologies have been developed based on retailer and manufacturer needs. Formed in late 2013, the Kansas City, MO based company participated in the 2014 SparkLabKC accelerator class. For more information, visit www.couponcloud.com

 About DST: DST Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of sophisticated information processing and servicing solutions to companies around the world. Through its global enterprise, DST delivers strategically unified data management, business processing and customer communications solutions to the asset management, brokerage, retirement, and healthcare markets. Headquartered in Kansas City, MO., DST is a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.dstsystems.com

 

SparkLabKC Congratulates Life Equals® on Seed Funding Success

Contact: Jennifer Fettchenhauer
Eidson & Partners, Inc. 
Mobile: 812-369-5675
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com 

Life Equals closes round of seed funding with Local and Central Kansas Investors 

Kansas City, Mo. – February 3, 2015 – SparkLabKC congratulates wellness startup, Life Equals, a company from the 2014 SparkLabKC class, on the firm’s closing of an initial round of seed funding. This funding allows Life Equals to upgrade the firm’s e-commerce platform, streamline fulfillment, build the company’s retail footprint and expand the company’s brand ambassador marketing program. 

Life Equals markets a line of vitamins through retail partners including Whole Foods Market, Nature’s Own, Hy-Vee and via an e-commerce platform. Life Equal’s products are pharmaceutical grade, 100% Made in America vitamins. With every purchase, the company donates one month of essential children's multivitamins to an undernourished child through a partnership with Vitamin Angels. These worldwide donations are specifically to at risk children under five – helping children gain access to lifesaving and life changing vitamins and minerals. 

“The nutrition crisis is the number one most addressable issue facing humanity today. Worldwide, one in three childhood deaths is attributed to malnutrition. In fact, the lack of nutrients is a greater cause of death than AIDS, malaria and parasitic infections combined. And, with more Americans experiencing food insecurity, this isn’t just a developing country problem,” says co-founder and CEO Kyle FitzGerald. 

Kevin Fryer, Managing Director of SparkLabKC noted, “With this round of funding, Life Equals is in a position to rapidly upgrade their operation and roll out across additional markets. These investments will build brand awareness and volume, while reducing operating costs.” 

Life Equals CEO, Kyle FitzGerald, said, “We are very pleased to complete this round of funding with investors that add experience and value. With business connections into large corporate organizations, we will be exploring the corporate wellness arena. This project accelerated 24 months ago when we partnered with Kansas City Internal Medicine (KCIM) and became their official vitamin line. Through that partnership we expanded our product offering from three to 10, partnered with Whole Foods Market and were accepted into the SparkLabKC program. We are now positioned to maximize Life Equals’ potential in the months ahead and grow brand awareness.” 

Life Equals did not disclose the terms of the investment nor the investors. 

Interested consumers can sign up to receive Life Equals’ newsletter at www.life-equals.com. 

About Life Equals: Life Equals is a progressive wellness company that markets a line of adult vitamins. With every purchase, Life Equals gives one month of essential children's multivitamins to a undernourished child in need. One for One. To learn more about Life Equals, see www.LifeEquals.com 

About Vitamin Angels: Vitamin Angels helps at-risk populations in need—specifically pregnant women, new mothers, and children under five—gain access to lifesaving and life changing vitamins and minerals. In 2014, Vitamin Angels is working to reach 40 million children in approximately 45 countries, including the US, with the vital nutrients they need as a foundation for good health. Vitamin Angels has received seven consecutive four-star ratings from Charity Navigator for Financial Health, Accountability and Transparency. To learn more, visit www.vitaminangels.org 

About SparkLabKC: SparkLabKC is an early-stage technology business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven mid western entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 10 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. The program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. 

For more information go to SparkLabKC.com

SparkLabKC, Kansas City Business Accelerator, Chooses Third Class

Contact: Jennifer Fettchenhauer
Eidson & Partners, Inc.
Mobile: 812-369-5675
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com

10 Companies get to work in new Kansas City Downtown Innovation District location 

Kansas City, Mo. – January 14, 2015 – SparkLabKC, a Kansas City-based business accelerator, has selected 10 companies for SparkLabKC’s third class: College Sports USA, Kookiedoodle, 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 and Kansas City entrepreneur. “As a group, these companies have well developed products and are at the point of operationalizing their businesses.”

SparkLabKC supports Kansas City region startups representing a wide range of business segments. This year’s class will work out of SparkLabKC’s new downtown Kansas City location, building on the city’s initiative to create an ecosystem for entrepreneurs. “Kansas City has a rich history of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Ace Wagner, a

SparkLabKC co-founder. “We’re pleased to have moved SparkLabKC to Kansas City’s Downtown Innovation District where these 10 companies can benefit from initiatives designed to help entrepreneurs build scalable companies in the heart of Kansas City.”

SparkLabKC’s program includes:
• Seed capital
• Mentorship with a pool of over 80 business leaders with deep experience across virtually every industry
• Free workspace
• Legal, accounting and financial advisory services
• A formal prototype demonstration day for potential investors

SparkLabKC’s mentors, sponsors and partners come from the public and private sectors, and provide the depth of resources, experience and knowledge needed to help startups on their path to success.

“In addition to the established pool of SparkLabKC mentors, we are especially pleased to have many members of the first two classes returning to serve as coaches for the SparkLabKC class of 2015,” noted Fryer.

SparkLabKC sponsors and partners include:
• Polsinelli
• Mid-America Angels Investments, LLC
• Country Club Bank
• DST Systems, Inc.
• EPR Properties
• MRIGlobal
• KCNext
• OpenAir Equity Partners
• McGonigle’s Market
• University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center
• University of Kansas Center for Technology Commercialization
• University of Missouri
• Rockhurst University

The SparkLabKC 2015 class began on January 12, 2015 at the SparkLabKC office, located at 127 West 10th Street, Suite 102, Kansas City, Mo. The class concludes on April 10, 2015 with Demo Day when each company will present its prototype product and business model to angel investors and venture capital investors.

About SparkLabKC: SparkLabKC is an early-stage business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven midwestern entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 10 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, inresidence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. The program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. For more information visit www.SparkLabKC.com.

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SparkLabKC Congratulates FormZapper on Acceptance to SixThirty, a St. Louis-based Financial Technology Accelerator

Contact:
Jennifer Fettchenhauer
Eidson & Partners, Inc.
Mobile: 812-369-5675
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com

SparkLabKC Congratulates FormZapper on Acceptance to SixThirty, a St. Louis-based Financial Technology Accelerator

The 14-week program includes mentoring, networking and substantial seed funding. 

Kansas City, Mo. – April 21, 2014 – SparkLabKC congratulates FormZapper, a company from the 2013 SparkLabKC class, on the firm’s acceptance into SixThirty’s second class. 

FormZapper has developed and markets LendingStandardTM, a document management platform for commercial lenders and real-estate lawyers. The platform expedites the collection of loan documents and collaboration across the lending team and the legal team. 

Kevin Fryer, Managing Director of SparkLabKC noted, “We believe that the connections, mentoring and seed funding from SixThirty represent a priceless opportunity for FormZapper’s founders to push their business ahead rapidly. St. Louis is a recognized center for the financial services industry. Importantly, Jim McKelvey, Managing Director of SixThirty knows the financial technology space very well having co-founded Square, a fast growing credit card payment system built for mobile devices.” 

FormZapper founders, Andy Kallenbach and Jan Valencia, bring highly complementary experience to the company. Kallenbach has 20 years of form automation experience working with commercial insurance, including the industry’s top companies. Valencia brings more than 20 years of experience in commercial and residential lending working for Commerce Bank and CommunityAmerica Credit Union. 

FormZapper CEO, Andy Kallenbach, said, “We are particularly pleased to have been accepted into SixThirty’s second class, which includes a significant round of seed funding. The SixThirty team fully understands our value proposition, the lending industry and the financial tech space. We could not have asked for a better situation to help grow our company.” 

FormZapper did not disclose the full terms of the seed funding agreement. 

About FormZapper: FormZapper provides business process solutions to commercial lending and leasing firms. Using pre-built processes and integrations with popular finance tools, FormZapper helps firms start and finish financial transactions faster and more securely enabling them to reach more customers with better service, regulatory compliance, and instant business intelligence.

About SixThirty: SixThirty provides fintech startups with $100K in funding, mentors, and connections to the top financial services companies in the country. 

Backed by the St. Louis Regional Chamber and venture capital firm Cultivation Capital, SixThirty invests in eight financialbased technology startup companies each year, four for the fall and four in the spring. Those companies selected to take part in the 14week accelerator program receive hands-on training, mentoring, and networking opportunities with the top financial services companies in the country. 

About SparkLabKC: SparkLabKC is an early-stage technology business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo. SparkLabKC selects 10 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. The program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community.

SparkLabKC Congratulates Briefcase on Seed Funding Investment

Contact:
Jennifer Fettchenhauer 
Eidson & Partners, Inc.
Office: 816-474-0747 
Mobile: 812-369-5675
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com 

SparkLabKC Congratulates Briefcase on Seed Funding Investment 

Briefcase raises seed funding round from NelNet, Inc.; Dundee Capital 

Markets, Inc.; Saturday Capital, LLC and a Kansas City-based angel investor. 

Kansas City, Mo. – January 10, 2014 – SparkLabKC congratulates Briefcase, a technology company from the 2013 SparkLabKC class, on closing a round of seed funding. This funding allows Briefcase to complete backend and application development, and to fund its market rollout to an initial 21 universities. 

Briefcase provides a system that allows universities to push verified job openings to students. Using the Briefcase mobile app, students can register their job requirements, upload resumes, review job openings and submit applications with one click. 

“We are pleased to have the support of multiple investors; investors with insights and understanding of the placement and talent acquisition industry,” says Christian Fisher, Briefcase CEO. “Contrary to popular opinion, we found it was not difficult to raise seed funding in Kansas City. We are particularly pleased our investors include a publicly traded company, two venture capital funds and a Kansas City angel investor.” 

Kevin Fryer, SparkLabKC managing director notes, “In only nine months, Briefcase has made extraordinary progress with both product and market development. With this funding, the Briefcase team is positioned for market rollout beginning with their local partners: University of Missouri, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Rockhurst University and Park University.” 

“More than 70 percent of today’s college graduates are unemployed or under-employed in the first six months after graduation. We want to help improve that average,” Briefcase COO, Caleb Phillippi, explained. “We provide a white-labeled mobile app that is customized to each university. As a result, universities can be at the center of each student’s career search.” 

The Briefcase technologies aggregate and verify the universe of job openings. Relevant job openings are matched and pushed to students. Employing machine-learning algorithms, the system constantly refines job matching for each student based on individual feedback. 

“SparkLabKC has been a major catalyst for our progress,” noted Fisher. “The mentoring, the introductions, the business advice and the support from SparkLabKC have made all of the difference in our progress, including the completion of this investment round.” 

SparkLabKC is a technology business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., that selects 10 promising startups each year for an intense 90-day in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides seed capital, advisory services, workspace and introductions to potential investors. 

About Briefcase: Briefcase is a white label job aggregation and management tool developed specifically for university career services departments to help their college students receive the broadest possible exposure to employment opportunities. Its responsive design and Smart Technology® allows students to easily find, review, apply, and accept jobs through both web and mobile, ensuring that relevant jobs are never far from their fingertips. And with their students taken care of, schools can use Briefcase’s valuable insights and metrics to measure job placements rates and satisfaction statistics, confirming that their efforts are well rewarded. Briefcase is a SparkLabKC graduate, recipient of Digital Sandbox capital, and has retained investment from NelNet Inc., Dundee Venture Capital Inc., Saturday Capital LLC and Kansas City-based angel investor Jon Bentz. For more information, see http://briefca.se or via Twitter and Facebook

About SparkLabKC: SparkLabKC is an early-stage technology business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven mid western entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 10 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. The program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. 

Knoda Secures Seed Financing Round, Prepares for iPhone Launch

Contact: 
Kyle Rogers
Knoda
913.568.2213
krogers@knoda.com

Kansas City-Based Prediction Startup Lands Funding from Local Angel Investor

Kansas City, Mo. – November, 6, 2013 – Knoda (NODE-uh), a Kansas City-based startup, secured seed funding this week from a local angel investor. Knoda allows users to make predictions about any topic. Other users weigh in on those predictions, and Knoda crowdsources the results to find out who is right and who is wrong. Knoda then rates and ranks predictors based on their skill level.

“We are thrilled to team with a local investor who sees eye-to-eye with Knoda’s vision,” Co-Founder and CEO Kyle Rogers said. “Kansas City is a great place for young companies, and we are happy to keep our first funding round here in town. We are looking forward to launching our product to the market and getting feedback from the community.”

The seed funding will allow Knoda to hire full-time staff, cover operational expenses and provide marketing support for their impending launch. Knoda will employ four full-time employees and is now hiring. Knoda is currently completing development on an iPhone application scheduled to launch in early December. The team will then focus on building Android and desktop web versions of the product for launch in early 2014.

Knoda was an inaugural member of the SparkLabKC business accelerator and is part of the Digital Sandbox program.

"There are a lot of people to thank who have aided us on this journey so far,” Co-Founder and COO James Flexman said. “There's still a long way to go to fulfill our vision for Knoda, but without our investors, SparkLabKC, Digital Sandbox and our team of advisers, we wouldn't be in the position we are today. We're grateful for the entrepreneurial support in Kansas City and look forward to the challenge of building a successful company here."

Terms of the investment and the identity of the investor were not disclosed. Interested users can sign up to be notified of Knoda’s launch at Knoda.com. 

About Knoda: Knoda is a technology company that provides users an app-based platform to make, track, rank and archive predictions. Knoda technology scores predictions and reports each user’s successes. The aggregated predictions represent a unique form of crowd-sourced content. To learn more about Knoda, watch their pitch from SparkLabKC Demo Day August 23: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0VefslgNLU 

Follow Knoda Online:

Knoda.com

Twitter.com/KNODAfuture

Facebook.com/KNODAfuture

YouTube.com/KNODAfuture

 

 

SparkLabKC Congratulates Knoda on Seed Funding Success

Contact:
Jennifer Fettchenhauer  
Eidson & Partners, Inc.  
Office: 816-474-0747 
Mobile: 812-369-5675
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com

Knoda closes round of seed funding with Kansas City-based Investor

Kansas City, Mo. – November 6, 2013 – SparkLabKC congratulates technology startup Knoda, a company from the 2013 SparkLabKC class, on the firm’s closing of a full round of seed funding. This funding allows Knoda to complete backend and application development, beta testing and product rollout.

Knoda’s consumer application allows users to make predictions, (e.g. sports outcomes, box office hits, celebrity news) and allows other users to weigh in on those predictions. The Knoda app closes the feedback loop and ranks users on their prediction successes. The aggregated predictions represent a unique form of crowd-sourced content. Prospective customers include news organizations and sports broadcasters. 

Kevin Fryer, Managing Director of SparkLabKC noted, “With this round of funding, Knoda is in a position to rapidly complete their products and roll out across several markets. It is particularly gratifying to see this co-founder team move their business concept ahead into the marketplace.”

Knoda co-founders Kyle Rogers and James Flexman share backgrounds in marketing, social media and software development involving professional sports organizations including: the Kansas City Royals, the Kansas City Wizards, Sporting KC and Sporting Innovations.

Knoda CEO, Kyle Rogers, said, “We are very pleased to complete this round of funding so quickly with an investor team that understands the value proposition of Knoda’s application.” He added, “We began working on this project full time only five months ago. In that interval, we have completed the SparkLabKC program, secured grant funding from Digital Sandbox, connected with key players in the media, built our team and framed our product. We are now well positioned to maximize Knoda’s potential in the months ahead.”

The terms of the investment and the investors were not disclosed by Knoda. Interested users can sign up to be notified of Knoda’s launch at Knoda.com. 

About Knoda: Knoda is a technology company that provides users an app-based platform to make, track, rank and archive predictions. Knoda technology scores predictions and reports each user’s successes. The aggregated predictions represent a unique form of crowd-sourced content. To learn more about Knoda, watch their pitch from SparkLabKC Demo Day August 23: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0VefslgNLU 

About SparkLabKC: SparkLabKC is an early-stage technology business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven Midwestern entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 10 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. The program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. 

Applications for SparkLabKC’s 2014 class are currently open and will close on December 1, 2013. 

 

SparkLabKC, a Kansas City Business Accelerator, Announces Second Class

Contact:
Jennifer Fettchenhauer
Eidson & Partners, Inc.
816-474-0747
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com       

SparkLabKC, a Kansas City Business Accelerator, Announces Second Class

In-residence program provides seed capital, mentors and business advisory services for startup technology companies Kansas City, Mo. – October 9, 2013 – Applications for 10 positions in SparkLabKC’s second class are now open at www.SparkLabKC.com. The program will begin January 13, 2014.

On August 23rd, SparkLabKC’s first class concluded with a successful Demo Day during which 10 companies presented their businesses to investors. More than 175 people, including dozens of qualified investors, attended.

Kevin Fryer, Managing Director of SparkLabKC noted, “With our first class, we learned conclusively that the SparkLabKC mentors are the secret to these companies’ growth and maturation. More than 100 mentors made a commitment to support these startups and the outcomes were dramatic.”

“SparkLabKC not only accelerated our business, our network and our resource pool, the program put us in the right state of mind to hit the market with a minimum viable product,” said Christian Fisher, CEO of Briefcase, a company that participated in SparkLabKC’s inaugural class. He added, “We are better situated to be successful as a result of the program and its founders getting behind us -- even through a mid-program company pivot.” 

SparkLabKC supports early-stage technology startups using a proven business accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region by focusing on startups working in industries that drive Kansas City’s economy. The program builds on the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community and on public-private partnerships. SparkLabKC accepts both Internet-based companies and companies with physical products.

SparkLabKC will select 10 early-stage technology startup companies from across the region for this 90-day accelerator program that provides:
·   Seed capital of up to $18,000
·   More than 100 mentors with deep experience across virtually every industry
·   Free workspace
·   Legal, accounting and financial advisory services
·   A formal prototype demonstration day for potential investors

SparkLabKC sponsors and partners include:
·   Polsinelli
·   Meara. Welch. Browne.
·   Mid-America Angels Investments, LLC
·   DST Systems, Inc.
·   Missouri Bank
·   OneLouder
·   HR On-Call Solutions
·   EPR Properties
·   MRIGlobal
·   OpenAir Equity Partners
·   KCNext – The Technology Council of Greater Kansas City
·   Rockhurst University
·   University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center
·   University of Kansas Center for Technology Commercialization
·   RJI – The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
·   University of Missouri

How the Program Works:

SparkLabKC will take applications at www.SparkLabKC.com from October 1 through December 1, 2013.

SparkLabKC will select 10 companies and the accelerator program will begin January 13, 2014 at the SparkLabKC office, located at 215 West Pershing Road, just across the street from Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

SparkLabKC program timeline:
·   Month one involves heavy mentoring to help refine business and product strategies.
·   Month two is product-focused with work on prototype development.
·   Month three focuses on refining the prototype pitch for Demo Day.
·   April 11, 2014 is Demo Day during which each company presents its prototype product to angel investors and venture capitalists.

About SparkLabKC: We are an early-stage technology business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven Midwestern entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 10 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. Our program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. For more information go to www.SparkLabKC.com.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (University of Missouri) To Sponsor SparkLabKC’s Demo Day

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Contact: Jennifer Fettchenhauer    Media Outreach Manager   812-369-5675        jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com  

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (University of Missouri)

To Sponsor SparkLabKC’s Demo Day

MU Journalism Graduate and New Media Entrepreneur, Jim Spencer,

to Deliver Keynote Address.

Kansas City, Mo. – July 22, 2013 – SparkLabKC, a Kansas City-based business accelerator, has announced that the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) will sponsor SparkLabKC’s Demo Day events scheduled for August 23, 2013 at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO.

Jim Spencer, founder of the fast-growing Newsy mobile video news service and a digital media veteran, has agreed to provide the Demo Day keynote address.

SparkLabKC - Using a proven business accelerator model adapted to the Kansas City region, SparkLabKC is providing support services for 10 startup companies. These startup companies receive seed capital, mentoring, free workspace and free legal, accounting, financial and human resources advisory services during an intense 90-day program.

The capstone event for each SparkLabKC class is a formal Demo Day during which each company will pitch its business to prospective Angel Investors and Venture Capital Investors.

“We are very pleased to have RJI as the sponsor for SparkLabKC’s first Demo Day event,” said Kevin Fryer, SparkLabKC managing director and Kansas City entrepreneur. “A business accelerator bridges two gaps for startups – the experience gap and the investment gap. Our team has worked hard to recruit more than 100 mentors to help bridge the experience gap. With RJI’s support for Demo Day, we intend to help bridge the investment gap.”

SparkLabKC is inviting investors from across the Midwest in an effort to engage on-going investment support for early stage companies in the Kansas City region.

SparkLabKC sponsors and partners include: Polsinelli; Meara. Welch. Browne.; Mid-America Angels Investments, LLC; Missouri Bank; OneLouder; HR On-Call Solutions; DST Systems, Inc.; EPR Properties; MRIGlobal; KC Next; University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center; University of Kansas Center for Technology Commercialization; University of Missouri and The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute – “RJI is pleased to sponsor SparkLabKC’s inaugural Demo Day events,” said Randy Picht, Executive Director at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. He added, “RJI is deeply involved with experimentation in new approaches to journalism. Startup companies and new tools to solve new problems have become increasingly important to journalism. Our relationship with SparkLabKC provides a better understanding of the power of an accelerator to create vibrant, new businesses that can contribute to RJI’s mission.”

Mr. Picht has collaborated with the SparkLabKC team for several months as it has ramped up operations for its first class, which formally launched on May 29, 2013. In addition, Mr. Picht helped recruit Jim Spencer to serve as the SparkLabKC Demo Day keynoter.

RJI’s mission is to improve democracy through better journalism. Through a combination of research, fellowships and joint partnerships, the institute explores emerging and innovative solutions to some of journalism’s most significant issues.

In addition to helping jumpstart ideas, RJI has taken equity stakes in several companies, including Newsy, to help get some new ideas into the industry faster.

Mr. Jim Spencer – Mr. Spencer is the president and founder at Columbia, Missouri-based Newsy. In addition to his responsibilities with Newsy, he serves as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He has a long history of involvement with Internet-based news and information companies as a journalist, business leader, consultant and investor.

A news analyzer, not an aggregator, Newsy is a video news service producing daily video news that highlight the nuances in reporting. Through 2-3 minute multisource videos available on mobile devices and the web, Newsy accelerates the understanding of how a news story is reported from sources around the world.

Jim Spencer has helped lead several successful Internet start-ups and established online companies including Newsy. Jim was VP of Content and Answers at Ask Jeeves (Ask.com) where he was responsible for all search queries and helped lead the company to a top 15 website and through a successful initial public offering. Prior to Ask Jeeves, Jim was the GM of News and Information Programming at AOL (News, Sports, Health, Research and International) leading the content, business and partnership operations for one of AOL’s major business units.

For 11 years, Mr. Spencer has served as Managing Partner for Media Convergence Group, an investment company focused on commercializing media content with emerging technologies.

About SparkLabKC: SparkLabKC is an early-stage business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven Midwestern entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 11 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. The program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. For more information go to www.SparkLabKC.com.

About RJI: RJI was launched in 2004 with a grant of $31 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. In conjunction with the centennial celebration of the Missouri School of Journalism, RJI’s headquarters were opened in September 2008. This 50,000 square-foot facility on the University of Missouri campus has state-of-the-art resources to test and demonstrate new technologies, experiment with new approaches to producing, designing and delivering news, information and advertising, and to host conferences that can be live-streamed around the world.

RJI’s work crosses diverse specialties within journalism, including media convergence, editorial content and methods, the evolution of advertising, innovation in management and the impact of new technologies. It also includes varied fields on campus such as law, computer science, marketing, education and other disciplines. For more information go to http://www.rjionline.org/

About Newsy: Promising to make you smarter, faster, Newsy is the only video news service that allows users to compare news sources from around the world to see how a story unfolds. Through concise videos available on the web and mobile devices, Newsy accelerates the understanding of a news story. Producing more than 2000 multi-source videos per month for its website, apps and partners, Newsy generates millions of views per month. Newsy has won two Appy Awards, a Davey Award and a W3 Award. Its highly rated free apps are available to download from iTunes, Google Play, the Windows Phone Marketplace and the Nokia Store.

Why Columbia for Newsy headquarters: The first and one of the finest journalism schools combined with the cost structure were the two driving factors. Newsy has access to a smart and driven talent pool, and the support of a university community that values innovation. The result is a remarkable newsroom that produces high quality, economically viable content.

Link to interview with Jim Spencer:

http://www.appolicious.com/tech/articles/3845-meet-the-makers-q-a-with-jim-spencer-ceo-of-newsy

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SparkLabKC, a Kansas City Business Accelerator, Chooses First Class

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Contact: Jennifer Fettchenhauer
Eidson & Partners, Inc.
816-474-0747
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com

SparkLabKC, a Kansas City Business Accelerator, Chooses First Class

Eleven Companies accepted for in-residence program including seed capital,
mentors and business advisory services

Kansas City, Mo. – May 9, 2013 – Eleven early-stage startup companies have been selected for SparkLabKC’s inaugural class, including: The Briefcase, FolioMatch, Knoda, Prodigy Arcade, NeighborsGrow (Rockhill Strategic), Innovative Health Media, VolunteerMark, FormZapper, Your Adoption Finance Coach, Ante Meridiem and FanAddict.

SparkLabKC supports startups using a proven business accelerator model adapted to the Kansas City region.

“We had planned to select 10 companies for the initial class. However, we were very impressed with the applicant quality and opted to take eleven companies,” said Kevin Fryer, SparkLabKC managing director and Kansas City entrepreneur. “Not only have we oversubscribed the initial class, we have oversubscribed the mentor pool. We set an original target of 80 mentors, and the response has been enormous. More than 100 experienced entrepreneur/mentors are now part of the SparkLabKC team.”

Of the eleven companies, all are from the Kansas City region. These companies represent a wide range of business segments and all have a technology component to their operations.

“It is interesting to note that SparkLabKC was successful in competing with other well-established business accelerators at the national level, including a well-known New York City-based accelerator,” noted Fryer. “We have a significant level of support from regional entrepreneurs who are committed to making each SparkLabKC company a success.”

SparkLabKC’s program includes:

  • Seed capital of up to $18,000

  • More than 100 mentors with deep experience across virtually every industry

  • Free workspace

  • Legal, accounting, financial and human resources advisory services

  • A formal prototype demonstration day for potential investors

-More-

SparkLabKC’s mentors, sponsors and partners come from the public and private sectors, and provide the depth of resources, experience and knowledge needed to help startups on their path to success.

SparkLabKC sponsors and partners include:

  • Polsinelli

  • Meara. Welch. Browne.

  • Mid-America Angels Investments, LLC

  • Missouri Bank

  • OneLouder

  • HR On-Call Solutions

  • DST Systems, Inc.

  • EPR Properties

  • MRIGlobal

  • KC Next

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center

  • University of Kansas Center for Technology Commercialization

  • University of Missouri

  • Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

How the Program Works:

SparkLabKC selected 11 companies and the accelerator program will begin May 29 at the SparkLabKC office, located at 215 West Pershing Road, just across the street from Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

SparkLabKC program timeline:

  • Month one is heavy mentoring to help refine business and product strategy.

  • Month two is product focused with work on prototype development.

  • Month three focuses on refining the prototype pitch for Demo Day.

  • Aug. 23 is Demo Day when each company presents its prototype product to angel investors and venture capitalists.

About SparkLabKC: We are an early-stage business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven Midwestern entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 11 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. Our program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. For more information go to www.SparkLabKC.com.

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New Kansas City Business Accelerator Targets Early-Stage Internet Startups

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Contact: Jennifer Fettchenhauer
Eidson & Partners, Inc. 
816-474-0747 
jennifer@eidsonandpartners.com

New Kansas City Business Accelerator Targets Early-Stage Internet Startups

Intense, in-residence program provides seed capital, mentors and business advisory services through public-private partnerships

SparkLabKC℠ information and application at www.SparkLabKC.com

Kansas City, Mo. – January 23, 2013 – Early-stage Internet startup companies will be able to get their ideas off the ground faster with a better chance to succeed going forward through a new business accelerator launched today in the Kansas City region.

SparkLabKC will support early-stage Internet startups using a proven business accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. The program also builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community.

“Our accelerator solves the two fundamental problems for early-stage startup companies – the experience gap and the capital gap,” said Kevin Fryer, SparkLabKC managing director and Kansas City entrepreneur. “We provide a deep pool of mentors who are seasoned entrepreneurs as well as seed capital and access to investors. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities.”

SparkLabKC will select 10 early-stage Internet startup companies from across the region each year for a 90-day accelerator program that provides:

  • Seed capital of up to $18,000

  • More than 80 mentors with deep experience across virtually every industry

  • Free workspace

  • Legal, accounting, financial and human resources advisory services

  • A formal prototype demonstration day for potential investors

The program will focus on early-stage Internet startups working in industries that are driving the Kansas City regional economy such as telecommunications, engineering, health care, agriculture and energy.

“I have seen this approach generate some remarkable startup companies including Dropbox and Airbnb,” said Evan Conway president of OneLouder, a mobile app developer and SparkLabKC sponsor. “As an entrepreneur in the Internet space, I genuinely wish the many startups I have known could have had this advantage. This is a good day for startup companies in Kansas City.”

-More-

SparkLabKC’s mentors, sponsors and partners come from the public and private sectors, and provide the depth of resources, experience and knowledge needed to help startups on their path to success.

SparkLabKC sponsors and partners include:

  • Polsinelli Shughart

  • Meara. Welch. Browne.

  • Mid-America Angels Investments, LLC

  • Missouri Bank

  • OneLouder

  • HR On-Call Solutions

  • MRIGlobal

  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center

  • University of Kansas Center for Technology Commercialization

  • University of Missouri

“Like many Kansas City corporations, MRIGlobal cultivates and celebrates an innovative spirit,” said Thomas M. Sack, Ph.D., senior vice president and director, Technical Operations, MRIGlobal. “We believe our organization and the Kansas City region will be enriched by associating with these promising technology startups and supporting their development.”

SparkLabKC is also intent on supporting and enhancing the region’s reputation as one of the fastest growing startup cities in the world (source: StartupDigest.com). Graduating SparkLabKC companies will be well equipped as they move into the market for the first time to benefit from organizations such as the Kauffman Foundation, the Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program and the region’s many private and university programs.

“We are pleased to partner with SparkLabKC to accelerate the success of early-stage businesses through a proven accelerator model,” said Maria Meyers, director of KCSourceLink at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Innovation Center. “It’s good to see another strong group has stepped forward to help make Kansas City America’s most entrepreneurial city by providing both funding and support to young companies.”

How the Program Works:

SparkLabKC will take applications at www.SparkLabKC.com from Feb.1 through March 31.

SparkLabKC will select 10 companies and the accelerator program will begin May 29 at the SparkLabKC office, located at 215 West Pershing Road, just across the street from Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

SparkLabKC program timeline:

  • Month one is heavy mentoring to help refine business and product strategy.

  • Month two is product focused with work on prototype development.

  • Month three focuses on refining the prototype pitch for Demo Day.

  • Aug. 23 is Demo Day when each company presents its prototype product to angel investors and venture capitalists.

-More-

About SparkLabKC: We are an early-stage Internet business accelerator based in Kansas City, Mo., created to help driven Midwestern entrepreneurs forge their ideas into successful companies. SparkLabKC selects 10 promising startups each year for a 90-day intense, in-residence, mentor-driven program that provides up to $18,000 in seed capital, business advisory services, free workspace and a formal demonstration day with potential investors. This is a proven accelerator program adapted to the Kansas City region. Our program builds on public-private partnerships and the strengths of the region’s vast entrepreneurial community. Startups that have been through this kind of program have a superior track record of generating new companies, new jobs and achieving a significant impact in their communities. For more information go to www.SparkLabKC.com.

About OneLouder: OneLouder is a leading mobile app developer focused on simplifying and organizing social content on mobile and tablet devices. The company has had more than 20 million downloads across its suite of apps including, TweetCaster, FriendCaster, 1Weather, CBS SportCaster, ChannelCaster, Slices, POWOW, BaconReader, Live 140, and Explore 140. For more information visit www.onelouder.com; follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

About MRIGlobal: MRIGlobal, a not-for-profit research and development organization, delivers global solutions in national security and defense, energy and environment, life and animal sciences, agriculture and food safety, and transportation. The organization performs scientific research, advanced engineering and program integration and management for clients in government, industry and academia.  Established in 1944 as Midwest Research Institute, MRIGlobal is based in Kansas City, Mo., operates in nine states and Washington, D.C., and manages more than 3,300 employees.

MRIGlobal is one of two partners in the Alliance for Sustainable Energy LLC, which manages and operates the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit www.mriglobal.org.

About the UMKC Innovation Center: From whiteboard to boardroom, the UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country. With a suite of high-impact programs, the center helps emerging and existing business owners hone their business basics, evaluate commercialization opportunities, and connect with the right resources at the right time. Innovation Center programs include the Small Business & Technology Development Center, Procurement Technical Assistance Center, U.S.SourceLink, KCSourceLink, KCArtistLink, and MOSourceLink.

About the University of Missouri-Kansas City: The University of Missouri-Kansas City, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 15,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience. For more information about UMKC, visit www.umkc.edu. You can also find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and watch us on YouTube.

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