Whether gunning for big money or just trying to solve one of Earth's many problems, some KC startups have put ideas in motion that could make a major impact soon. Here are some of 2015's fastest-growing innovators.
Edge Up Sports
Finally, fantasy football may now have that performance-enhancement controversy that it’s been missing. Edge Up Sports is bringing tech steroids to pretend football by giving players access to roster management suggestions based on thousands of data sources, including social media sentiment and analyst opinions. It’s, literally, like having IBM Watson on your team, which is the engine for some of the app’s intel.
What if roads knew they had potholes? Or, better yet, what if they just didn’t have potholes? That is the world imagined by Integrated Roadways. They build modular, pre-cast pavement systems with embedded smart traffic technology. Pre-cast pavement systems are easier to install and last longer than asphalt or concrete pavements. The modular system makes it simple to swap out a damaged slab of concrete or work on underground utilities without digging up an entire stretch of highway (or an entire River Market).
If you can tell the difference between a healthy flower and a dying flower, you can manage your 401K using blooom. After a signup process that takes less than 10 minutes, the company professionally manages your 401K and reports back to you by way of animated daisy, for $1-$15 per month. If your flower is wilting, blooom gives you helpful tips and allows you to make changes.
These architects are declaring war on utility bills by building Kansas City’s first net-zero home (which basically means it can create its own energy). Long-term success here could mean a lot of saved energy and resources. So if you’re into the whole ‘improving the lives of future generations’ thing, support Acre Designs’ IndieGogo.
This New York-based mobile, personal health tech company came to Kansas City by way of the Sprint Accelerator powered by Techstars. And we’re glad it’s sticking around thanks to the LaunchKC grant competition. Vertisense’s flagship product, Alcohoot, allows users to breathalyze themselves, then use the app to connect with ride-sharing services or nearby food vendors for a late-night snack. Its other product, Intrepid Connect, is a similar breath-testing product geared toward law enforcement and employers with a mobile workforce.
We’ve all been that stubborn person loading up their arms with grocery bags, refusing to make multiple trips to the car. MightyHandle isn’t judging; they just want to make it a little easier. MightyHandle can lug up to 50 pounds worth of groceries (or whatever else you’re determined to carry all at once) and all with recyclable material. They’ve got great momentum, too, recently inking a deal to distribute at more than 3,000 Walmart stores nationwide.
Wearable tech is the hot, new focus for Silicon Valley tech stars, but KC’s Davyeon Ross scored some envious recognition with his own product, ShotTracker. This app, which maps basketball shots and tracks makes vs. misses for training purposes, is now the official wearable technology of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and has earned endorsement from Golden State Warriors Guard, Klay Thompson.
Never underestimate undies; they can be a major source of comfort and confidence for women in need. For every pair of undies you buy, MADI donates a pair to domestic violence shelters, disaster relief or hospital rape crisis centers.
Ocean & Sea's Landlocked Sailboat Kickstarter
Ocean & Sea may not fall into everyone’s definition of a startup, but their Kickstarter cleverly represents the common vision for local brands to expand beyond city limits. Their Sailboat mobile pop-up shop was fully funded by excited supporters, but they still have plenty of great goods for backers and, despite fully funding the Kickstarter, their “dream” still needs more funding (and just 1 day left!).
Support the Kickstarter
Niall is to timepieces what Baldwin is to denim: a high-quality, Kansas City original product that holds its own against longstanding luxury brands. Niall is all about high-quality materials, timeless design and American manufacturing. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re batting for the hometown team.
Rightfully Sewn is throwing it back to Kansas City’s history as a hub for garment design and manufacturing to make an impact on KC lives today. The organization provides seamstress training for women who face employment barriers and then works to place them in fashion apprenticeships. Meanwhile, Rightfully Sewn also supports KC-based fashion designers by providing them with space and access to state-of-the-art equipment and staffing services.
EyeVerify’s Eyeprint ID technology gives us all a good reason to take more selfies: security. The blood vessels in your eyes are completely unique to you, making them a highly effective alternative to passwords on mobile devices. The benefit? You can ditch all your passwords – no more special characters and numbers and security questions. EyeVerify is already working with banks, major smartphone manufacturer ZTE and Vodafone Mobile Wallet.
The Wordshop is a community center in the Crossroads that provides a place for youths to create and share projects “generated by language,” like slam poetry and creative writing. The organization hosts festivals & workshops, publishes student work and connects young people with artists for mentorship.
Founder Manya Honig pedals around KC serving up gourmet, gluten-free, and sometimes even dairy-free ice-cream treats from her bike. Her menu offers grown-up, guilt-free versions of Klondike bars, choco-tacos and push pops we all used to buy from the ice-cream truck. Check out the flavors, which are made with organic and local ingredients whenever possible, and treat yourself.
There are lots of reasons we’re saying yesss to Mosquitno. They make mosquito repellent in the form of small stickers and rubber wristbands that are infused with natural citronella oil (so, non-toxic and DEET-free). They’ll even recycle your old bands, and for every 10 bands you return, you get two free. Plus, 10 percent of Mosquitno’s profits are donated to UNICEF.
You can’t not like the FitBark story: A brother-sister team moved from New York to Kansas City to participate in the first-ever Sprint Accelerator powered by Techstars with their dog, Little Buddy. Ninety days later, they decided to stay in KC and take advantage of the strong animal health sector here. Now, their doggie fitness tracker is sold nationwide in Target. You can find them (and sometimes Little Buddy) scurrying around the Sprint Accelerator when they’re not being covered in New York Magazine, NBC News or TechCrunch.
Ryroute’s app, Tap & Treat, is a system designed to make autism treatment more accessible, less expensive and, in many ways, better for the child. Parents can customize daily tasks within the app, which the child can follow very simply on mobile devices. This fosters better independence in treatment for the child while allowing for custom, professional and interactive care at home.