October 18-20 | Tucson, AZ

The Research Institution GAP Fund and Accelerator Program Summit

Firebrand Ventures partners with UMKC to cultivate entrepreneurs

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

Firebrand Ventures has partnered with the University of Missouri-Kansas City to help local startup entrepreneurs.

As part of the agreement, the Kansas City-based fund will offer graduates of UMKC’s E-Scholars program an opportunity to receive an investment from Firebrand starting in 2017.

Housed under UMKC’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (RIEI), E-Scholars offers students a structured, two-semester long program of Saturday workshops focusing on marketing, finance, operations, legal and more. Complemented by a large network of entrepreneurial mentors, the program launched in 2011 and has since worked with more than 200 entrepreneurs.

Firebrand managing director John Fein said the partnership represents an opportunity for university and community students to accelerate their ventures beyond the concept stage.

“By leveraging other key startup resources, we can help engage these entrepreneurs with the Kansas City startup community where they’ll be welcomed with open arms,” he said in a release.

Jeffrey Hornsby, director of the RIEI, said that he’s excited for the partnership’s ability to accelerate new companies.

“This partnership is one of the final major pieces of the puzzle that we feel has been missing from the Kansas City entrepreneurial community – access to early-stage capital to help ventures bridge that gap from minimum viable product to scalable growth,” Hornsby said in a release. “By helping to create this capital connection for local early-stage entrepreneurs, Kansas City continues to assert itself as a key player on the regional and national stage for cultivation of innovative new companies.”

Should an E-Scholar grad nab capital from the fund, they’d have access to the impressive team at Firebrand. In addition to Fein — who previously was the managing director for the Techstars-led Sprint Accelerator — Firebrand’s advisors include: Brian McClendon, the vice president of maps and business platform at Uber; David Cohen, a co-founder and the managing partner of Techstars, and Kansas Citian Keith Harrington, who’s the managing director of Fulcrum Global Capital.

Firebrand Ventures’ first fund will invest $7 million in about 30 Midwest startups over the next three years. The fund will target lean, “capital-efficient” software startups in the greater Midwest, which Fein defined as an area between San Antonio to Minneapolis and Boulder to Columbus, Ohio. Fein said that the fund will lead and co-invest in deals with an average check size of about $150,000.

Fein is helping to lead the charge in shifting Kansas City’s investment culture and wrote a piece for Startland News offering startups advice on how to hook a venture capitalist.


Source: Firebrand Ventures partners with UMKC to cultivate entrepreneurs

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