Park Points – February 12, 2024

How about those Chiefs? Here’s a quick recap of news, information and events relevant to the mission and vision of KU Innovation Park.

Two Park Companies Earn KC Spotlight

In a previous edition of Park Points, we shared that two Park companies were named to the 2024 cohort of Startland News’ 10 Kansas City Startups to Watch. Leaders from Invary and MPruv Sports took to the stage last month to share insights with fellow founders and audience members.

  • The year 2020 was pivotal for the cohort, even though just one company existed before the pandemic.
  • Brands must be true to the people behind them, especially as Gen Z values authenticity and transparency from businesses they interact with (and work for).
  • Founders need people who believe in their vision, too. “Think about trying to scale a company nationwide. That’s not just one person, right?” said Mark Lukenbill, the co-founder of Mpruv Sports. “Part of it is finding individuals that have shared the same vision and goals that we have.”

Tips from VCs: Relationships Matter

Startups can’t go far without funding. At the same Startland News seminar, leaders in the venture capital space say a founder’s first contact with a potential funder shouldn’t be to ask for money.

  • Instead, it’s about relationships. “You’ve got to have relationships with people long before they’ll fund, and that includes angels and all the others,” said Darcy Howe, the founding managing director for the KCRise Fund.
  • Don’t forget to do your homework. Funds usually have specific niches that they’re focused on. “Venture funds are a specific product targeting a specific type of return,” said Taylor Clausen, the founder of Abstraction Capital.
  • Experts believe 2024 will be good for biotech activity on the investment side.

Park Company News

Startup Support

From the Hill

  • KU recently hired a former senior leader in the Department of Defense research community. Kurt Preston has joined the Office of Graduate Military Programs as its director of national security research. Welcome, Dr. Preston!

Have news and notes to share? Let Lindsey Slater, vice president of strategic communications, know by clicking here.