By: Darren Bonawitz
This week we featured KC Hub, an organization which aims to shape Kansas City into a center for research and innovation. Aaron Sloup, co-founder of KC Hub, answered some questions about the organization.
Tell us a little about your organization’s background:
Our official name is the KC Hub Foundation, but we go by KC Hub. Ryan Weber and I came up with the concept of creating a Kansas City based Silicon Valley or Research Triangle (like the one in North Carolina) in October 2009. For about six months, the concept was in somewhat of an incubator stage – we did a ton of research and talked to hundreds of people about the idea. We formed a non-profit corporation in July 2010. Other founding members of the Board include Matt Wilson, Matt Sawka and Aaron Siders.
Why was it founded and what is the group’s mission or core focus?:
Our goal is to create an ecosystem for innovation. Originally we hoped to find that there was already a group that was taking shape and pursuing a mission like the one we envisioned. We found that Kansas City is fairly “siloed;” we have some strong vertical ecosystems in specific sectors. Life sciences is a great example. Through the effort of many groups across the region, researchers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and non-profits, the life sciences community works together to come up with the next big idea and then bring that idea to market. KCnext is another good example. At KC Hub, we want to build on some of that momentum and help innovators across all sectors connect. There are definite economies of scale that we, as a city and a region, can take advantage of.
Who should consider becoming a member of your group?
KC Hub has always been about connecting the people with the next big idea and the people that can make that idea happen. We generally refer to those two groups as “innovators.” This is a pretty diverse group, which is why it’s a little hard to target. It includes people from universities and research institutions, angel and venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and startup companies and though leaders from established companies. And those are just some examples; anyone who’s an innovator is welcome.
What are some of the member benefits?
Connecting with other innovators is the main benefit. Finding others with the same mindset, that think big, take big risks and make big ideas happen can have all kinds of benefits from helping launch a business, find a resource or just have a great discussion.
What do you like best about being involved in the research / technology community in Kansas City?
There’s always something new and exciting to learn about. You hear so much about technology companies on the coasts or in other regions of the world, but the reality is, KC’s actually got a lot of interesting things going on in the tech community. It’s fun to discover some of these hidden gems.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes. We’ve had some great advisors that have been critical to our success. And beyond that, so many people have provided ideas, advice and resources. It’s really been a community effort, so thanks to everyone that has contributed.
How should interested people get in touch with you?
The best way is via our website, kchub.org. Right now, it’s just a placeholder while our innovation networking site is being developed, but we update our social networking groups often – there are links to our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter from kchub.org, as well as a general email address.