Startup Ecosystem: Kansas City

Startup Ecosystem: Kansas City, KS

Today we chat with Matthew Marcus, Executive Director of the Kansas City Startup Foundation.

We met Matt about a year ago at the SUP-X conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida… just one of many data points demonstrating that entrepreneurial activity is thriving everywhere.

Read on as Matt gives us a snapshot of the scene in the Sunflower State.

In just one sentence, what is your accelerator called and what do you do?

The Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV) is an entrepreneurial micro-community helping to grow and support entrepreneurship

and Kansas City’s startup ecosystem.

What makes your program different or unique? And related, what’s your primary value-add?

The KCSV represents the next-generation incubator — one where entrepreneurs not only work, but also live. Additionally, rather than solely relying on an external group of mentors, the inhabitants of the Village mentor one another in a co-learning environment. And perhaps most importantly, the primary value-add is that living and working near one another creates a stronger sense of community. It’s a place where interpersonal relationships form and extend beyond the entrepreneurs’ professional lives.

What do you love the most about working with startups?

Their passion and energy. When people live with purpose and desire it’s infectious. It radiates and inspires others to do the same. Entrepreneurs hustling to build their dreams and solve problems are the creme de la creme of passionate and driven individuals. They inspire me to no end.

What is the hardest or most surprising part of working with startups?

Although not surprising, the toughest part of #startuplife I’ve personally endured and continually see other entrepreneurs suffering from as well is work/life imbalance. For entrepreneurs, time is the most valuable asset. There literally are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Yet, we try. And we try. And we try again. Often to the sacrifice of our health, relationships, and overall well-being. What’s the answer? I’m not sure. If you figure it out, let me know.

Do you have a success story to share? Who are the most notable or interesting companies to go through your program?

The most successful startup to graduate from the KCSV is EyeVerify. They were one of the first KCSV startups back in late 2012. A small 3 person team working on biometric security tech for mobile devices. We watched them grow, advance their tech, move to a bigger space in KC, and eventually get acquired by Ant Financial (subsidiary of Alibaba) for 9 figures. Their CEO, Toby Rush, will be the first to say that without the support of KC’s startup community (including the KCSV) they would not have realized such a level of success. Great idea, great execution, great team … winning!

How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your company?

Although I’ve not personally had an opportunity to put Foundersuite to use, I was excited to share the service with all of the KCSV based startups. No doubt many of them will make great use of the functionality to help continue building and growing their companies.

Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?

So tough to pick just one! Creating and running a startup requires so much. I guess I would have to say culture. Create the best possible culture within your company. One that speaks to your beliefs as an individual and as the leader of the team. Doing so will set the tone for many things, including the path forward and the individuals it attracts who will join the team.

Thanks to Matt for sharing — we enjoyed the interview.

For additional info on starting your startup in Kansas City, check out these links:

• Subscribe to the KCSF Newsletter and stay in the know about KC’s startup ecosystem.

• Check out the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV), a community of startups & entrepreneurs.

• Check out Village Square, a coworking studio in the heart of the KCSV.

• Check out Startland News, Kansas City’s home for innovation news.