For the 21st year, the Kauffman Fellows held its annual summit last week in Kansas City. According to KSHB Action 41 News, more than 200 investors, industry leaders, founders and entrepreneurs from five continents gathered for the two day event. Keynote speakers included:
- AOL founder Steve Case
- Boulder-based Foundry Group managing partner Brad Feld
- Kansas City-based Fulcrum Global Capital partner Keith Harrington
According to Startland News, Harrington spoke to the Fellows about the state of venture capital in Kansas City. Harrington noted that Kansas City has a reputation of being a traditional “nice” midwestern city and this leads to a strong work ethic and a community that comes together for the greater good of the city. However, this isn’t always a good thing. Entrepreneurs in Kansas City, according to Harrington, are risk averse and fear failure, whereas coastal cities have adopted an ideology of fail fast, learn quickly and move forward.
Harrington also highlighted the high-caliber talent of Kansas City, attributing it to nearby universities with engineering and entrepreneurship programs like the University of Missouri, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University – just to name a few. The low cost of living also attracts millennials to living and work in the area.
A key area in which Kansas City could improve upon is expanding access to capital. Traditionally, entrepreneurs in many midwestern cities found that accessing capital was easier said than done. However, Harrington said that this already beginning to improve. Over the last two years, Kansas City has welcomed many new venture capital funds like Flyover Capital, Royal Street Ventures, Firebrand Ventures, KC Rise Fund, and Harrington’s Fulcrum Global Capital. These funds along with startup accelerators continue to boost the entrepreneurial spirit of Kansas City.