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Digital Sandbox funds 4 startups

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Four startups were tapped to receive project funding from the successful Digital Sandbox KC program, two in partnership with Innovation Stockyard in St. Joseph.

“We continue to see a high volume of quality applicants with a wide range of concepts,” says Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC. “This quarter’s companies range from a virtual learning platform for kids on the autism spectrum that was developed at the University of Missouri to a St. Joe-based startup making unique cocktail bitters.”

Digital Sandbox KC is a proof-of-concept program that significantly and rapidly moves early-stage entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization. It is a unique collaboration among private, public, university/research and philanthropic organizations.

The companies selected for support:

  • iSocial is a virtual learning environment that lets children with autism learn and practice pro-social behavior in a safe, controlled space. iSocial is a research and evidence-based program focused on improving student interactions and was developed in conjunction with the University of Missouri and the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders.

    READ MORE: iSocial, others engage with patients for personalized care

  • TravelHive is a social travel bookmarking and collaborative planning platform. Travelers can use TravelHive to bookmark inspirations from any website to create and share collaborative travel itineraries.
  • Carroll’s Irish Bitters is a St. Joseph-based startup making handcrafted small-batch bitters. In addition to timeless favorites, co-founders Brian Carroll and Christina Hitch are developing new bitters recipes and formulas for bartenders across the region.
  • Grant Co. is an entrepreneurial communications and marketing company based in St. Joseph. Established in 2017, Grant Co. offers a unique marketing and advertising model for agribusiness clientele in the KC Animal Health Corridor and across North America and Europe.

Carroll’s Irish Bitters and Grant Company received funding from the Sandbox partnership with the Innovation Stockyard in St. Joseph. In addition to up to $15,000 in project development funds, the Innovation Stockyard, located inside the Kit Bond Incubator in St. Joseph, will offer the two startups coworking space for three to six months.

“When we launched Digital Sandbox KC in 2013, we hoped to find 10 high-growth potential companies,” Shackelford said. “Now with more than 100 projects funded and more than $50 million raised in follow-on funding, we’ve proven by supporting early-stage ideas in Kansas City and surrounding local communities like Olathe, St. Joseph and Independence, we can drive new business starts and help create new jobs.”

Digital Sandbox KC has worked with more than 500 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the region.