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SF group visits KC Startup Village, Fiber Space to “see the local flavor”

A group mainly consisting of San Francisco venture capitalists and entrepreneurs visits the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The distance between Kansas City and the coasts got a little shorter this week. San Francisco venture capitalists, investors, entrepreneurs and a national tech writer spent 24 hours in Kansas City on Tuesday and Wednesday, absorbing the startup climate and putting Google Fiber through its paces.

Silicon Prairie News community builders Regan Carrizales and Jeff Slobotski organized the trip and curated the schedule for the group, which included former Google director of product management Hunter Walk, former Twitter vice president of product Satya Patel, MkII Ventures founder Ron Palmeri, former IGN Entertainment president Roy Bahat, Exitround founder Jacob Mullins, YuMe senior vice president Frank Barbieri and TechCrunch writer Anthony Ha.

During the trip, the group met with entrepreneurs in Kansas City Startup Village (right) and local corporations working with startups, discussed the investment landscape with local venture capitalist, attended 1 Million Cups, visited the Google Fiber Space and tasted KC BBQ (Jack Stack). There weren’t expectations ahead of time, rather, everyone mostly wanted “to see the local flavor,” Mullins said.

Patel had heard more and more about Kansas City and was impressed with the level of corporate involvement in the startup community. “It seem like they’ve embraced the idea that what’s good for KC is good for their companies,” he said. To corral outside venture capital, he said, startups need to tell them about specifics and form an identity as a community. “(VCs) have to believe it’s going to be a fertile investment area” that has the potential for a number of quality startups, he said.

Having come from Google—now working on his own projects—Walk was very interested in Fiber. “I was curious as to how consumers started to interact with Fiber,” he said. In his blog post yesterday, he shared his thoughts about the gigabit connection. “When you play with it, the gap between you and internet totally disappears. The computer is responsive in a manner that I’ve never experienced before.” He also made a few guesses as to Google’s endgame, noting “when the internet is this fast you do one more search per session, watch one more video per session, send one more email per session. A connected population benefits Google. Period.”

Ha sees the trip as one of many to come from outside the region. “I think we’ll start to see more VCs come to figure out what’s in KC, and KC needs to tell its story,” he said.

It’s impossible to know what will come of the trip, but several of the investors mentioned following up with startups and entrepreneurs they met on the trip and Patel said they discussed organizing a trip for Kansas City entrepreneurs to experience the startup scene in San Francisco.

Here’s a selection of tweets from the group’s visit:


Disclosure: Silicon Prairie News community builders Jeff Slobotski and Regan Carrizales organized this trip.

Credits: Photos by Jeff Slobotski.

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