In late 2012, a string of serendipitous events occurred in a small area of midtown Kansas City. Within the span of two weeks, three properties about half a block from one another in the first neighborhood in the world to get Google Fiber simultaneously began hosting tech startups and entrepreneurs. Perhaps the most amazing part of the story is that it all happened without any planning. The result of these events led to the formation of what is now known as the Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV), an entrepreneurial micro-community helping to grow and support entrepreneurship and Kansas City’s startup ecosystem.
Based upon the principles and guidelines set forth by Brad Feld in his book “Startup Communities,” the KCSV is led by the entrepreneurs who inhabit it. These “co-leaders” volunteer much of their time for the greater good of the community with the goal of supporting each other on the road towards entrepreneurial success. However, sometimes volunteerism isn’t enough.
In 2014, the most active co-leaders realized that in order for the community to survive and thrive, it would need support from other stakeholders within Kansas City’s startup ecosystem. In order to receive the necessary support, many of the stakeholders required the Kansas City Startup Village to be a legitimate business entity. However, turning the village into a business would have introduced hierarchy and red tape into the mix and potentially jeopardized the organic, grassroots nature of the KCSV. Thus, in September 2014, Kansas City Startup Foundation (KCSF) was founded as a nonprofit to support the village.
During the formation of KCSF, those involved in its creation realized the new organization could do more than just support the village. It could also support the entire Kansas City startup ecosystem in new and unique ways. It could unify and champion the ecosystem. It could provide value to all of the ecosystem’s stakeholders including schools, governments, corporations, investors, other nonprofits, and of course the entrepreneurs themselves.
On April 20, 2015, Kansas City Startup Foundation officially received its 501(c)3 designation from the IRS. The journey towards a stronger, more prosperous and vibrant Kansas City startup community is well underway, and KCSF is helping to lead the charge.