Two Kansas City Startup Village leaders reflect on its first birthday

There have been plenty of heart-to-heart conversations between Adam Arredondo and Matthew Marcus over the last year about balancing work on their startup with a new startup. The Local Ruckus co-founders—and now, executives ...

Kansas City Startup Village celebrates its first biirthday with a party Saturday.

There have been plenty of heart-to-heart conversations between Adam Arredondo and Matthew Marcus over the last year about balancing work on their startup with a new startup. The Local Ruckus co-founders—and now, executives—became leaders of the Kansas City Startup Village through a number of lucky encounters. But there was nothing lucky about all the work that went into making the Village what it is today.

Arredondo brought Marcus on as a co-founder last September. Around that time Marcus had run into Leap2 at the Silicon Prairie Awards. Soon after, the team noticed a house on State Line Road had room for rent—they had no idea it was Marcus’ house. Local Ruckus, FormZapper and EyeVerify soon moved into the house along with Leap2 and Home for Hackers’ Ben Barreth bought a house down the street. He reached out to them about the organic growth happening, and before anyone knew it, KCSV had its start.

Flash forward to this week, when KCSV will celebrate its first birthday with a party from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday—tickets are free but registration is encouraged. After a year, the neighborhood is home to 23 startups and has begun to pick up properties on the city’s Missouri side as Google Fiber continues to roll out. Delegations from foreign countries have taken tours and major media outlets like The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company have visited the area. KCSV also has its first employee, Brittain Kovac, to bring a constant presence to the group.

Marcus and Arredondo spoke with Silicon Prairie News about KCSV’s early days, why they’re proud to be involved, what advice they have for others who may want to be involved and more. Here are their reflections on a year in the books for Kansas City Startup Village:

The first year of the KCSV

“We were entertaining any inquiry, media, whoever wanted a tour, a community perspective or to learn about Google Fiber. Doing a lot on real estate. We just made ourselves available. Marcus put together the whole website as it exists.” —Arredondo

“We have a lot of gratitude for Kauffman and 1 Million Cups. Those meetings in the early days attracted a lot of our co-leaders.” —Marcus

“We all treated it as a startup in its own right. We weren’t balancing our time right with Local Ruckus, often slipping from 80/20 to 60/40. We were working 50 hours a week on both projects.” —Arredondo

“We realized if the Village were to grow, other people would have to step up. And they did.” —Marcus

Personal pride in a movement

“It was really exciting for me from a Kansas City perspective, growing up here. I very much believed KC startups needed it. The stronger the Village, the more likely startups in it would have success. It’s been terribly exciting seeing that happen in my hometown.” —Arredondo

“Two years ago I never intended to help build a startup community. Put in a position like this, do you step up to the plate or walk away? I’ve always wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. In 10 to 20 years, I hope to look back and see something that’s grown, knowing it wasn’t because of me but I was at least a part of it happening.” —Marcus

Advice for aspiring villages elsewhere

“It’s gonna be different in every city. Normally attention for another effort will not have Google Fiber in its favor. That wasn’t reason for doing it, but you have to take advantage of an opportunity when it comes. We needed to show the world what we were building while they were looking at us.” —Marcus

“Make sure entrepreneurs are leading the charge. A lot of time early on spent on investment conversations and none of those things were in the Village’s best interest. A purely financially motivated real estate move has yet to happen. It’s not about ROI. Brad Feld and others who’ve invested have other motivations for the community.” —Arredondo

Ideas on what’s next

“There will be a co-working space in the near future. Everyone asks where the center point of the KCSV is right now, and by default it’s been the first house. I could see that space as a new anchor. There’s some great commercial real estate in the area too that I think is a steal. Not that we want to push out nearby businesses, but it’d be great to see more activity in the form of restaurants, coffee shops.” —Marcus

“I think you’re gonna see bets being made. People starting to put their money where their mouth is and making an impact on the greater community.” —Arredondo


Credits: KCSV photo from Facebook.


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