The second rendition of 1Week KC was designed to celebrate, support and connect entrepreneurs in the Kansas City area. In the eyes of its organizers, the weeklong series of events more than achieved those goals.
Entrepreneurs, businesspeople and interested residents turned out in larger numbers than anticipated at almost every event, and the overall energy and excitement of attendees was noticeably higher than it was last year, 1Week KC lead organizer Adam Coomes said. “The RSVPs were up everywhere, even with events we added at the last minute,” Coomes said, noting a Friday night party that had fewer than 200 guests RSVP last year but had 500 this year. To Coomes, the increased crowds served as an indication that Kansas City’s startup scene is on the rise.
The week’s highlights included Entrepreneurship Day at the K, a celebration of area entrepreneurs at a Tuesday night Royals game; Maker Faire, a weekend event at Union Station that allowed makers and inventors to show off their work; and Social Media Club of Kansas City’s fifth birthday, which drew a crowd of Web 2.0 enthusiasts to a party at the Bouelvard brewery.
But, by most accounts, Friday’s Kansas City Startup Crawl took the cake. Crawl organizer Carrie Royce estimated about 1,000 people participated in the event, taking shuttles to and from 11 different startup hot spots, including Snow and Co., a cocktail bar frequented by entrepreneurs; CremaLab, a local design and development shop; and Kansas City Startup Village, the neighborhood along the Missouri-Kansas border where entrepreneurs have clustered to take advantage of early access to Google Fiber.
Royce oversaw a Startup Crawl in February but said with the number of attendees and startups more than doubling for Friday’s rendition, the event’s impact increased as well. “The more people from more places we can get to come in, the more creative and constructive the conversations can be,” she said. “And there were a lot of meaningful conversations going on this time.”
And those conversations weren’t just among entrepreneurs who know about the scene already. Royce, who is also the CEO of Prodigy Arcade, a startup that makes games to teach basic computer programming skills, watched crawl participants pour into her post at CremaLab to discover the city’s underground entrepreneurial scene. “I met a ton of people from different walks of life. Teachers, city officials, students, you name it,” she said. “The first crawl in February was basically an insider event. But this one had more of the general public involved.”
Adam Arredondo is the CEO of Local Ruckus, a Kansas City startup with a website for finding and sharing local events. Arredondo said that though he enjoyed seeing investors and entrepreneurs stream through Local Ruckus’ office in the Kansas City Startup Village, his conversations with students and others new to the scene were his favorite. “Every time you talk to people who’ve never heard of the startup world or the Village, we get to tell our story,” Arredondo said. “And awareness of startups and the village is definitely growing in Kansas City.”
For those who knew a little about entrepreneurship and wanted to get involved, Arredondo provided assistance as well. “I was able to help a couple of entrepreneurs I met that were just getting into the scene, telling them to go certain events and talk to this guy,” he said. Helping one aspiring entrepreneur, Arredondo said, could lead directly to expanding the city’s startup community.
Coomes said the Startup Crawl reflected the tone of the 1Week KC as a whole. “Last year was about people finding out what’s going on,” he said. “But this year more people understood that something’s happening in Kansas City and were more engaged.”
Because of that, Coomes said, “next year is going to be that much more exciting because we’re going building on this year’s turnout and conversations,” which he hopes will translate into a more integrated and powerful startup network.