Kansas City Angel Investors Pick Favorites From Demo Day
Thanks in large part to LaunchKC and Commerce Bank, we can chalk up another win in the Demo Day category. First and foremost, thank you to all of the people that showed up to support our city’s thriving entrepreneurship scene, it truly means the world to us. We hope you had as good of a time attending the event as we did prepping for it.
We made a point of finding the professional Kansas City angel investors and venture capitalists that were in the room, and polled them on their favorite startups from the event. We also asked The LaunchKC leaders who they thought their favorites were as well. This essay is a reflection of the entrepreneurs that were continuously brought up throughout this poll.
These entrepreneurs span from four separate cohorts, which means about four hundred people were denied access to BetaBlox before these teams even got to start. These are the special few that should be kept an extra special eye on.
Scholarlyy is the easiest way to sell your textbooks after you’re done using them. They pay cash, and literally come to you to get them. This team has garnered a sincere amount of traction in spite of the cyclicality of textbook buy-back periods. They’ve tripled in growth each of the last four semesters, and have over 40 campus runners working for them on 15 major college campuses.
BlueHollar is a virtual concierge contractor for all of your home’s needs. Similar to Scholarlyy, they’re 100% powered by text messages. Have a leaky faucet? Need a new deck? Text them the need, and possibly send a picture of the problem along with it. They’ll take that information and dangle it in front of a bunch of pre-vetted service providers who will bid on the gig like a bunch of piranhas. They’ll text you back the winning service provider for your approval. If you approve, they schedule, monitor, and see that the gig has been followed through on. Then, they charge a small percentage to the contractor, and nothing to you. It’s a win-win-win! Nine months ago they were an idea, today they’re on track to do over a million dollars in revenue in this calendar year. Although an SMS platform seems rudimentary, it is and it isn’t. It is in the sense that consumers would rather text than use an app. But it’s not simple because 70% of their backend technology harnesses the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to essentially automate the job that was once done by call centers.
First and foremost, Catalyst makes some of the highest quality medical scrubs in the world. But they do it differently than other scrub companies. They exclusively employ women from disadvantaged communities across the world, making it possible for them to earn a living wage. Many systems of checks and balances have been put in-place in order to ensure the women that are manufacturing the product have a high quality of life in more places than just at their job. They’ve shipped product to the better part of every state in the country, and are the exclusive scrub provider for three clinics.
This team is lead by a chemical engineer and a female serial entrepreneur, whom are also both ex-Marines. PowerUp|PowerDown is the healthy alternative to a handful of supplements and drugs with the purpose of helping professionals make their days more efficient. It’s a two-time-a-day drink; one in the morning that stimulates your brain for elongated focus and clarity – and one at night that acts as a stress/anxiety relief so you can “turn the day off” when it’s time to enjoy time with your family. If that wasn’t enough, they do all their own manufacturing in-house, using a special machine capable of packing the nutrients into the cap of the bottle. All the consumer has to do is twist it a special way (prior to consumption) and the supplements are dropped from the cap into the “Five-Hour Energy Drink”-size container. By doing this, the nutrients have a substantially higher likelihood of being fully absorbed because they’re not packed into a pill; yet they keep their potency because they weren’t kept in water. Lastly, you order it as a subscription service; meaning you’re shipped a month’s supply right to your door without having to remember to re-order, every 30 days.
Corporate and growth stage businesses use outside consultants all the time to supplement knowledge-based holes in their teams. The problem: it doesn’t matter how good the consultation is if the team that is left with the plan doesn’t implement it correctly. Stratex Solutions is a two-person dream team, founded by a highly successful female business consultant that specializes in the Baldridge framework, and the second founder is a computer programmer from Microsoft. Together, they built a tool that empowers consultants to help their clients with the planning process, but then leaves the client with a set of scalable tools that help the business remain accountable to the planning. It’s the perfect marriage of ‘planning’ and ‘execution’.
Well, ladies and gentlemen…that’s all we have for this year’s installment of Demo Day and subsequent content pieces. Please let us know how we did. We always want to improve the experience. Thank you for your time and attention, we appreciate it more than words could articulate.
One final reminder: thank you to LaunchKC, one of our main sponsors. LaunchKC is a public grant competition designed to add rocket boosters to a startup. In its second year, LaunchKC will be giving out $50,000 capital injections (for zero equity), to ten technology startups that live in Kansas City. The deadline is July 6th, so head on over to LaunchKC.ORG to apply today!