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Sprint CEO opens Big Kansas City by reaching out to startups

Dan Hesse‘s eight years in Kansas City have put him in the front seat for the city’s evolution into an entrepreneurial hub after long being a hub for transportation of livestock and goods. Delivering the opening remarks today at our inaugural Big Kansas City conference, the Sprint CEO connected the dots from the city’s past to what can be its future if startups and established companies collaborate.

“Kansas City became a great city largely because of its infrastructure, from its great rail hubs to the Missouri River to its central location,” Hesse said. “The goods that are going to be moved in the 21st century are digital goods. We look to innovators to commercialize our intellectual property.”

He pointed to new initiatives within Kansas City that forge bonds between well-known entities—Sprint, Cerner, Hallmark—and startups. Digital Sandbox, for example, provides proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes to create the next generation of local companies. Hesse also mentioned the “Big Six” initiative, which was born out of the Reverse Pitch event during Global Entrepreneurship Week last fall. Large local corporations want to find ways to work effectively with the entrepreneurial community and present what they can offer in resources, tools and insights.

Often, startups bring a “laser-like focus to an issue or problem” for a larger company, Hesse said. Sprint has cultivated that into creating a developer program that has had 60,000 individuals and currently is collaborating with Kansas City-based Leap2 on the startup’s search application.

Big Kansas City is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.


Credits: Video by Quadrant5. Snippet photo by Kenny Johnson Photography.

The Big Kansas City Video Series is presented by NIC, Inc.

NIC Inc. is the nation’s leading provider of official government portals, online services, and secure payment processing solutions. The company’s innovative eGovernment services help reduce costs and increase efficiencies for government agencies, citizens, and businesses across the country.

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