Kansas City has always been an entrepreneurial city.
Companies such as Hallmark, Sprint, DST, Cerner, H&R Block, Garmin and Russell Stover Candies all call Kansas City home. However, a true renaissance in entrepreneurship and a renewed sense of a vibrant startup community has skyrocketed of late. A recent paper from the Kauffman Foundation shows that Kansas City has the third highest increase overall among the largest metropolitan areas in high-tech startup density from 1990-2010 in the United States. Kansas City ranked first for the highest increase among the largest metropolitan areas in high-tech startup density from 1990-2010 in the United States when based only on information and communications technology. This might strike some as surprising since Kansas City is not in Silicon Valley or on the East Coast, however it’s less of a surprise to those familiar with the technology ecosystem there. Kansas City’s growing tech density and its burgeoning startup activity demonstrates that the city has viability as a technology destination. Now, national technology players are truly taking note of the city and its success.
This newfound interest can be seen in the heart of Downtown Kansas City, Missouri at Think Big Partners. Think Big Partners is an early-stage business incubator, startup accelerator and mentorship-based collaborative network that takes ideas, opportunities and entrepreneurs and helps to take them to the next level. Why is this so important? Here’s why…Think Big Partners just became the first of its kind in the entire world to partner with Microsoft Ventures. To put this in perspective, think something similar to Google Ventures. In the past Microsoft Ventures has opened up its own accelerators in locations such as Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Paris and Beijing. However, Think Big Partners in Kansas City is the first established accelerator to build a partnership with Microsoft Ventures.
“Think Big Partners represents the best of KC as well as startup reach nationally and globally. We’re pleased to be working with them to find and support great startups,” said Cliff Reeves of Microsoft Ventures. The focus of Think Big Partners will continue to be helping entrepreneurs, grow, build and start their companies, but with this impressive partnership with Microsoft Ventures they now will have access to more of the “right” mentors to continue building their brand in an effort to grow and attract companies outside of Kansas City and the Midwest. These types of partnerships also allow Kansas City to attract more capital into town and more access to what it brings. “The extensive resources and boots on the ground that Microsoft Ventures adds to our checklist-oriented process will help us get entrepreneurs from idea to first customer faster and even more efficiently,” said Blake Miller, Director of Think Big Partners Accelerator.
In addition to what Think Big Partners is doing with Microsoft Ventures, Sprint has also been a relevant player on the tech scene launching the Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator in partnership with the well-known accelerator brand, Techstars. Leaders of early-stage mobile technology companies from across the United States will be coming to Kansas City to work on initiatives driving innovation in health care. Seems like the right focus with all the transformations going on in health care right now doesn’t it? “Wireless innovations are helping people around the world by improving health care, empowering people with disabilities and promoting wellness,” said Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint.
The Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator, powered by Techstars, will provide entrepreneurs in this field an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen their businesses with the guidance of leading technology experts from Sprint, top technology companies in the area and many from around the country. “To me, Kansas City is an obvious place that has an up-and-coming tech community to rival other top geographies,” said David Cohen, Founder and CEO of Techstars. “The presence of leaders in the mobile health care space makes this the perfect home for the accelerator.” Oh, I almost forgot…guess what? The new Sprint Accelerator is located about a block and a half away from Think Big Partners in one of Kansas City’s most desirable neighborhoods, the Crossroads. Kansas City is building true technology density and a real innovation zone in its urban core.
The major Think Big Partners and Sprint Accelerator news comes off the momentum of Kansas City becoming the first city in the United States to receive and implement 100 times faster than broadband Google Fiber services in many areas in the metropolitan area. Downtown Kansas City is getting wired for Google Fiber right now. This will only help Kansas City increase its high-tech density startup growth and help it build on its status as an emerging entrepreneurial technology center.
Kansas City will continue to be a catalyst for growth in the entrepreneurial sector in America and its technology innovation prowess is proving to be on the rise.
Going to Kansas City…Kansas City here I come.
From the Kansas City Business-Journal:
A Kansas City company is hoping a Kickstarter campaign can help it launch a new line of socks, designed with the business executive in mind.
In fact, co-founder and “sockpreneur”Jason Grill says as pants get shorter and as the tie becomes less popular, socks are the new statement piece to complement men’s business suits.
It’s a growing industry. For the 12 months ending in April, socks brought in $4.22 billion — a 5.6 percent increase over the previous year.
Sock 101 emerged from the idea that quality socks could be more affordable. Currently, the startup sells socks for $7 a pair online and is selling its products through a number of local retailers.
Sock 101 also has the “Sock of the Month Club” — a subscription-based model — which companies have used as monthly client gifts.
It’s working so far. According to Grill, the business launched about a year ago without taking on any investors and is already profitable.
Now, he is trying to add “team socks” to the mix with an addition of seven new pairs whose colors represent a handful of sports teams.
It’s also dipping its toes into custom socks for companies, complete with logo. Some of the Kickstarter funding will go toward creating a tool on Sock 101’s website where users can create their own customized pair.
Sock 101 has almost reached its goal of raising $25,000 through the crowdfunding website. It’s got less than $3,000 left to raise before the campaign ends Oct. 31. Although it’s sold about 3,000 pairs of socks so far, if the company hits its Kickstarter goal, it will have to manufacture more than 2,100.
A number of prominent Kansas Citians are already wearing them, from Mayor Sly James toUMB Bank President and COO Peter deSilva to Sporting Kansas City player Aurelien Collin.
Click here for the full piece.
We are 28% there in 1st Week.
We started the Sock 101 campaign just last Tuesday and, thanks to you, we have raised over $7,166! 130 donors to date. Thank you for supporting us!
We still need your help spreading the word. Sock 101 has 22 days to raise the remaining money! We know we can do it with your support!
Check out our campaign here!
If you haven’t pledged to get your socks, would you consider pledging today? We need to reach our goal in order to launch and grow other exciting offerings moving forward.
Check out the Sock 101 Kickstarter campaign, choose a perk that suits you, and pick out which socks you want us to send you. It’s that easy!
We are offering discounts for Earlybird Funders which save you about $12 off our normal pricing! What a deal!
Also, please continue to share our story!
Please share this email about our Kickstarter Campaign via email, Facebook, Twitter, phone calls, text messages and through old fashioned conversations. This is the key to going viral and spreading the Sock 101 story and new line offerings.
Recovering politician, and former Missouri State Representative Jason Grill, talked about the government shutdown, on The Mitch Albom Show.
Click here to download the podcast.
Click here to learn more about (and invest in) Jason’s latest venture, Sock 101.
People first started supporting their favorite teams with jackets, sweaters and shirts. Then people moved to hats, t-shirts, jerseys, kids cheerleader outfits and body paint.
Now, you can support your favorite team with your socks!
Introducing the Sock 101 Team Line! There’s only one catch…Sock 101 aren’t launching the team line unless they raise $25,000 on Kickstarter.
Sock 101 has 30 days to raise $25,000! We need your support!
Please out Sock 101’s campaign and video HERE: http://kck.st/1fG7kLo
What’s in it for you? You can grab some sweet new socks at a discount and step up your style!
How can you help?
1. Make A Pledge
Check out the link Sock 101’s Kickstarter campaign and video above, choose a perk that suits you, and pick out which socks you want us to send you. It’s that easy!
Sock 101 is offering discounts for Earlybird Funders which save you about $12 off our normal pricing! What a deal. Imagine what you can do with that savings. Buy yourself a beer at the game, grab some food and proudly display your new threads.
The Earlybird Funder discounts are limited to the first 100 people for each Earlybird discount level.
2. Share Our Story
Please share this email about Sock 101’s Kickstarter Campaign via email, Facebook, Twitter, phone calls, text messages and through old fashioned conversations.
The more people Sock 101 reaches, the more likely we will achieve our funding goal to bring our team line to being!
Read the rest of…
Jason Grill: Sock 101’s Kickstarter Campaign has Officially Launched!
In the last few years the words “content marketing” have become buzzwords in the corporate business, marketing, digital and media space. But what is it really? Content marketing as defined by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI):
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
Content marketing is becoming the new black from both a quantity and quality standpoint for individuals throughout the world. Some have stumbled into this world. Businesses both large and small are realizing that in order to compete they must embrace this new era of interaction and develop true content marketing programs. Content marketing is becoming a disruptive force. In the past marketing pros have relied on production, publishing and promotional amplifications tools. Content is the fuel that makes all of those platforms run. However, a few blog posts or an email campaign won’t suffice anymore.
Relevant content coming from a business through a thought leadership perspective has proven to have such a valuable effect to attract and retain customers. It’s not hokey, it’s not a pitch and it’s not everyday sales, it truly has become almost an educational and informative way to deliver knowledge and content to build brand loyalty and awareness. A study by Roper Public Affairs shows that 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in article form rather than in an advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to a company, while 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions. “Content marketing works because it delivers relevant proof of value,” says interactive content marketing strategist Mark O’Renick. Quality content marketing will engage consumers to look at a business differently in many instances.
Many C-suite, advertising and marketing executives believe their company has great content to shoot out and share in the public arena, however they don’t feel they can do this quick enough or keep it moving through a streamlined process. Spreadsheets, emails and project management systems have all been used by marketing teams in recent times to churn out content on a routine basis. This has led to a whole new industry of technology solutions that make your typical marketing editorial calendar look like a thing of the stone age.
A Kansas City, Missouri based startup, DivvyHQ, realized that content marketing is the present and the future of marketing. Their founders, both from the digital agency world, developed an ideation, planning and production workflow specialty tool to help businesses and online publishers embrace content marketing and collaboration, but in a manner that allows the user or users to do so in a more efficient way without all the headaches. Simply put, DivvyHQ aims to take content marketers out of spreadsheet, email, storage and organizational hell and alleviate the challenging manual and laborious process. Corporations such as Intel, Toyota, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Sprint, H & R Block, Travelocity and Adobe have all worked with DivvyHQ. PR and media giants Ogilvy, Edelman and the National Geographic Channel have also used the product to streamline their content needs.
“Despite the traditional publishing industry taking a beating over the last decade, companies can learn a lot from the day-to-day planning methods, scheduling tools and production processes that help publishers hit deadlines and crank out great content every day,” says content marketing expert Brody Dorland.
Companies and enterprise level organizations who handle multiple individuals and tasks are finding out they need a way to plan, divide and conquer their content marketing and editorial needs on the cloud. They have discovered they also need ways to break down the internal silos in the workplace. Some have used the old fashioned approach and tried breaking down physical walls in their office to get their employees and content producers to talk. There is an easier way. Virtual, real-time sharing and collaboration significantly improves these situations and breaks down silo walls.
Dorland believes, “Simplifying things and leveraging the cloud to help global, decentralized content teams collaborate, share assets and increase the quantity and quality of their content output is huge right now.”
The content marketing phenomenon isn’t going away. Content collaboration and team calendaring is on the upswing. The spreadsheet free editorial calendar is the new king of the castle. Companies both large and small are yearning and will continue to yearn for high-powered specific content marketing tools to help take their business to the next level.
Read the rest of…
Jason Grill: Content Marketing is the New Black
A few months ago, we announced that we were searching for the top 10 consultants across all industries. We are excited to announce that we’ve found the consultants who have actively utilized their expertise, leadership, and talent to build companies that achieve success by helping their clients reach — and exceed — their goals.
The “Top 10 Consultants” is a list of today’s leading consultants whose expertise spans from startups to big businesses across industries ranging from mobile to entertainment. They allow their passion to fuel their creativity and excitement, and their dedication to their industries makes each of the individuals some of the most sought-after experts in their respective fields.
1. Rameet Chawla: Founder of Fueled, an award-winning design and development company based in New York and London, Rameet Chawla is also the founder of the Fueled Collective, a co-working space comprised of over 25 startups in downtown Manhattan. Combining a decade of experience building Web and mobile applications with his innate sense of style, Chawla has created apps for a wide range of industry clients from high-end fashion brands to successful tech startups. Always up for a challenge, Chawla is passionate about building and being involved in disruptive technology ventures.
2. George Cogan: Partner of Bain & Company’s Silicon Valley office and the head of Bain’s global technology practice, George Cogan has more than 12 years of management consulting experience. He has led major client relationships in strategy development and organization restructuring for numerous international corporations. His broad range of expertise focuses on technology-driven businesses, including semiconductor components, computer hardware, storage and other peripherals, several software segments, information services, and telecommunications. His functional expertise includes corporate and divisional strategy, marketing strategy, new product and new business development, sales force and channel effectiveness, customer loyalty, and organizational design.
3. Joey Coleman: Joey Coleman is the chief experience composer at Design Symphony, a customer experience branding firm that specializes in creating unique, attention-grabbing customer experiences. He has been a lead consultant for clients that range from individual entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses to non-profits, government entities, and Fortune 500 companies. For over a decade, Coleman has worked with clients that include NASA, Hyatt Hotels, and Zappos. Joey is a recognized expert in customer experience design, an award-winning speaker at national and international conferences, and has taught business and creativity courses at both the college and graduate school levels.
4. Jason Fisher: Jason Zone Fisher has spent his entire life in the entertainment industry. At the age of 9, Jason landed the lead child role in the Cleveland Play House’s production of “Conversations with My Father.” After a number of other theatrical and film roles, Jason co-hosted two-time Emmy-nominated “Browns Blitz” on NBC. Moving forward with his passion, Jason went on to found his own production company: In-The-Zone Productions. He directed, wrote, and produced “Swing State,” his feature documentary film directorial debut. Jason’s experience in the entertainment industry has made him a sought-after consultant for major brands such as Gillette, Nestle’s Butterfinger, Esurance, Progressive, and Skype.
5. Matthew Goldfarb: Matthew Goldfarb is a professional copywriter who has spent the past 12 years creating award-winning ad campaigns for some of the largest companies in the world. His experience spans conceptual and long-form copywriting to TV, print, interactive, and integrated copywriting. As founder and chief renegade officer, Goldfarb is now bringing his expertise toCorporate Renegade, a company that aims to make its small business owner and entrepreneur clients stand out.
6. Michael Goldstein: Michael Goldstein is the founder of Exhilarator, a startup accelerator that helps consumer Internet startups get traction and funding. He has founded five businesses and sold three, including DealPal to XL Marketing in 2010 and Magazine-of-the-Month to Magazines.com in 2004. As a serial entrepreneur with 15 years of experience, Michael’s focus is on e-commerce, online content, and subscription businesses. He has a passion for growing startups, and he has been involved with multiple startup businesses as a consultant and mentor.
7. Jason Grill: Television analyst for Fox 4 WDAF in Kansas City, a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal Radio Network, and founder, producer, and host of the “Entrepreneur KC Show” on KMBZ Business Channel, Jason Grill is a true entrepreneur. He is a member of the advisory board of Neighbor.ly, SquareOffs, and the Partnership for Technology Innovation. Jason offers his consulting expertise in publications such as The Huffington Post, Politico, KC Business, Politix and The Recovering Politician. As an expert consultant, Jason has worked in the White House for a senior advisor to former Vice President Al Gore and an advisor to former President Bill Clinton.
Read the rest of…
Jason Grill: Top Ten Consultants
The Missouri Times collected a list of more than 100 people in the world of politics and political media that you need to know if you don’t already. The list doesn’t include legislators, but rather their staff and the governmental relations personnel and consultants that affect the outcomes of the legislator’s actions. Follow them on Twitter, familiarize yourself with their work and keep an eye out, because these people are not going anywhere.
Recovering Politician and former Missouri State Representative Jason Grill made the cut:
Principal, JGrill Media & Consulting
This former member of the House has a leading media and governmental relations firm in Kansas City while also continuing to practice law. He seems to never sleep with all of the hats he wears, including hosting a radio show.
From Fox4 Kansas City:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Self-proclaimed ‘sockpreneurs’ from Kansas City launched a line of socks that they say look good and don’t break the bank.
Sock 101 debuted during the Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Week. Since then, the company sent former president George H.W. Bush a pair of Texas A&M-colored socks, and he responded with a letter detailing his love for the maroon and white pair.
The socks all cost $7 and can be purchased on the Sock 101 website. Each color-combination of socks comes with its own name, including the ‘KC sock’ — a Royal blue-and-white horizontal stripe design.
Watch the newscast here.
Check out a cameo from contributing RP (and former Missouri State Representative) Jason Grill in this teaser video about his taking part in a Google Glass experiment — and stay tuned in the days ahead for more videos chronicling their progress: