Kickin’ Up Dust on the Silicon Prairie

March 25, 2014 | Citizen Inc.

If you asked me last year if I would ever want to visit Kansas City, I would have said, “Why on earth would I ever go there?” One year later, I stand corrected. I have been to Kansas City twice now alongside Citizen’s own Kate Sommers, as we have been asked to participate in the Sprint Accelerator as TechStars mentors. The accelerator has been formed to focus on innovation in the mobile healthcare space. Citizen’s deep knowledge in the mobile space, coupled with current work we are doing in the healthcare space, makes this a perfect fit for us to not only share our knowledge with the companies chosen to participate, but also provides us with a direct view into the disruptive new technology that is being thought up in the space.

Recently, the Sprint Accelerator announced the exciting companies that have been chosen to participate. The companies focus on a range of solutions for healthcare from connected devices that monitor health, safety, and security, to software solutions that aim to ease the many pain points between patient and doctor while allowing people to take charge of their own healthcare. There is even a company betting on a pet owner’s tight bond with their pet to drive the quantified pet data market.

A few weeks ago, we were able to attend a mentor dinner in Kansas City and got to see first-hand the ground swell of support from local companies to tech giants from afar. One thing every mentor seemed to agree upon is that the healthcare space is a tricky place to innovate in due to regulations, but it is also one of the industries that needs the most improvement and offers the most opportunity to change the game by leveraging mobile technology. The accelerator space itself was amazing, and set up to offer many collaborative workspaces for the teams to grow their ideas.

In a few weeks Kate and I will go back to Kansas City and meet all the teams in person and we couldn’t be more excited. Kansas City feels a lot like Portland did roughly five years ago. The Crossroads District is teaming with new construction and building restorations, coffee shops and speakeasy-style cocktail bars, alongside new restaurants that could rival some of Portland’s best foodie hotspots. What feels most similar to me is the spirit of innovation and the technology startups beginning to take shape. Walking around the city the Midwest spirit of hard work and innovation is palpable. Kansas City has long been an epicenter of successful businesses in the Midwest with corporations like Sprint, Cerner, H&R Block, Garmin, and Hallmark calling it home, and now some of those same companies are looking to pay it forward locally. I predict Kansas City will continue to grow rapidly as an innovation hotspot and I soon won’t be the only one looking forward to my next trip to the Silicon Prairie.

Citizen Inc.