LaunchKC gives $500k to startups at TechWeek

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ten entrepreneurs and start-up companies were awarded $50,000 each Friday at Kansas City’s TechWeek.

It started with nearly 500 aspiring small businesses, Friday at TechWeek KC, 20 finalists made their best pitches for their products.

“The only thing we can do to prevent that disability is earlier identification and treatment of stroke, so we created alpha stroke, this is our working version,” Matt Kesinger, Forest Devices Co-Founder said.

The start-ups came from around the world to Tech Week’s Kansas City event, because it’s the only stop in the organization’s conventions that also includes the $50,000 launch grant.

"$50,000 goes a long way when you are a small company, it can really change the course of a small company,” grant winner Liliana Younger said.

Liliana and her husband Max are industrial engineers in Kansas City. Max’s father lost his leg back in 2008. They say he found extended use of traditional crutches uncomfortable, so they started trying to reinvent the device that’s gone largely unchanged for more than a century. But getting it from the drawing board to production with the proper approvals hasn’t always been easy.

“We’ve been working on this a number of years now, literally today we just got our first production samples in,” Max Younger said.

“Coming up with the idea is one piece, but making it into a business, coming up with how are we going to make money with this, is a big portion of this," Liliana Younger said.

It’s the second year for the contest, TechWeek’s CEO says the first was already a huge success.

“The companies that were successful and received those actually raised $9 million in follow on capital, that tells you something about being able to sustain and continue the businesses.”

Accepting the grant includes at least a two year commitment to grow their companies right here in the Metro. Not a problem for Mobility Designed who have their offices right on Troost.

The Youngers they say have other ideas to help people with disabilities in the works, but are happy their dad will be getting that first production model of the device years in the making.