Kansas City Shifts To The Tech Fast Lane, VCs and Ad Creatures Put Gas In The Vehicles

If you’re wondering what investment in infrastructure looks like, take a look at the terrific corporate-led model presently underway in Kansas City. Google selected the Hanover Heights neighborhood in Kansas City, KS to be the first “fiberhood” in America, and the search giant is now busy supplying the area with its most awesome Google Fiber.

The action on the ground, as you might imagine, is spurring significant entrepreneurial activity. The Kansas City Startup Village is a grassroots group ran by startup founders who moved into the Hanover Heights neighborhood in October. Today, more than a dozen startups have offices in the neighborhood, according to Silicon Prairie News.

Now, Brad Feld a VC from Boulder, CO is in the game. Feld purchased a house in the neighborhood and plans to let entrepreneurs compete to live in it rent free, while pursuing their new business ideas. “The winners will have access to Google Fiber and a neighborhood and city brimming with startup activity,” Feld said. “They can take advantage of the many entrepreneurial programs and events offered by the Kauffman Foundation.”

Feld, who will also help mentor these new startups, said he’s putting the thesis of his recent book, Startup Communities into action by “directly supporting a startup community that sees endless opportunities ahead.” Here’s more on that:

Feld notes on his blog:

I’m fascinated with Google Fiber and the idea of 1GB Internet access to the home so I want to experiment and see what smart entrepreneurs can come up with. I have a long relationship with Kauffman and Kansas City going back to the mid-1990′s and I want to support the development and growth of the Kansas City startup community. And finally, when Amy and I talked about the idea of it, we agreed it would be a fun thing to do.

I’m curious if this piques the interest of any KC ad men and women. Here in Portland, the tech startup scene is starting to soar. Take Urban Airship. The company has gone from zero to 100 in a hurry. As such, it’s now a significant account for any agency. Having cozied up to a few startups myself, I can report that the focus is rarely on brand, it’s squarely on building out the new product or service, as it should be. But that doesn’t mean brand communications won’t play a central role in helping one startup succeed, where another one fails.

Lastly, there seems to be a bit of a KC-Boulder pattern emerging. Last year, KC’s biggest agency, Barkley, opened an office in Boulder, which is itself fast becoming the best little ad town in America. Now, Feld, Boulder’s most notable venture capitalist, is working his magic in KC.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.