Digital Sandbox KC closed out its first quarter by announcing the addition of two startups led by Black women to its program. The Kansas City-based organization provides resources to help early-stage companies with high-growth potential move from concept to commercialization.
One of the two companies selected is Bodify. Founded by Carlanda McKinney, Bodify is developing a web-based tool that would use computer vision and artificial intelligence to help online shoppers find the right size of clothing. McKinney said the grant will promote development of her company’s platform.
The other company is Interplay. Founded by Jonaie Johnson, the company is creating devices for dog owners to interact with and take care of their dogs remotely. The internet-connected device would attach to crates and enable pet owners to see video of their dogs, speak to them and dispense food and water from afar.
Since the grant is Johnson’s first major source of funding, she viewed it as a milestone for her company.
“This early-stage funding is further validation that I am building something special and viable, which makes me even more excited to get my product on the market and in the hands of users,” Johnson said in the release.
Since it was established in 2013, Digital Sandbox KC has awarded nearly $130,000 to more than 140 startups, according to the organization. Selected companies can use funding for project consultants, market research, prototyping, beta testing and more.
The selection of the two Black-women-led companies to receive funding emphasizes the organization’s mission to bring diverse, innovative ideas in the Kansas City region to life, according to the news release.