F reshly announced funding from Digital Sandbox KC is expected to help four Kansas City startups scale their innovations to market with additional access to investors, resources and a growing network of fellow entrepreneurs.
Mark Lukenbill and Moe Hamid, Mpruv Golf
Among the first-quarter Sandbox recipients, Basehor-based Mpruv Sports plans to use the new backing as it releases a series of peer-to-peer, on-demand, sports education marketplaces, said Mark Lukenbill, CEO and founder of the startup.
“Funding from Digital Sandbox KC will be instrumental in making key functionality upgrades and implementing security metrics to make the user experience safer and easier,” he said. “ This will allow us to scale our user count and bring our mission and value nationwide.”
The first app is Mpruv Golf, where users can get instant, on-demand, peer-to-peer golf lessons, where anyone can coach, and anyone can learn.
Click here to learn more about Mpruv Golf and Lukenbill’s journey so far.
Mpruv Sports and three other startups — Heft IQ , Pickle Systems , and Raise Health Innovations — are set to receive up to $20,000 each in project funding from Digital Sandbox KC. The companies collectively represent digital solutions around help for supply chain issues, sports education, people with disabilities and mental health.
- Heft IQ (Learie Hercules), Kansas City, Kansas — HEFT IQ’s goal is to become the operating system that grows small and medium brands into the next generation of big brands. The company plans to do this by providing advanced analytics and real-time insights to grow businesses while extracting away the operational lift to manage warehousing and fulfillment partners to achieve last-mile delivery capabilities.
- Pickle Systems ( Molly Oshinski, Morgan Marquez), Prairie Village — Pickle Systems features animated video models that teach daily living skills to individuals with disabilities.
- Raise Health Innovations ( Craig Mason), Kansas City, Missouri — Raise Health Innovations is improving mental health and impacting lives through the use of edge technologies in proactive ways before a health crisis occurs. The company is delivering innovative societal solutions that change the trajectory of the lives who need it most.
Jill Meyer, UMKC Innovation Center
Since Digital Sandbox KC’s inception in 2013, the program has had an immense impact on the startups it works with, said Jill Meyer, senior director of Technology Venture Studio, which houses early-stage tech support and programs Digital Sandbox KC, Whiteboard 2 Boardroom, KCInvestED and Comeback KC Ventures.
With a total of more than $3 million in proof-of-concept project funding, which, including these four new companies, has been awarded to a total 185 KC-area startups, Sandbox companies have gone on to raise nearly $200 million in follow-on funding. In fact, 33 Sandbox startups have raised over $1 million in follow-on funding, and 27 have achieved more than $1 million in sales.
“Early-stage funding is vital to ensuring that young startups survive, so Digital Sandbox KC is honored to be one of the few organizations in Kansas City that fuels innovations now so they can grow and land additional funding in the future,” said Meyer. “Not only do Sandbox companies receive early-stage project funding, but the program also helps founders ensure they’re ready to connect with key people in the tech pipeline who can accelerate their innovations.”
Digital Sandbox KC is accepting new applications for presentations for its second-quarter 2023 cycle. Click here for more information and to submit an idea.
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