We need a Sandbox where everyone plays
…it is a reflection of the continuing digital, economic, opportunity, and hope divide that we have in KC.
The Kansas City Star
When not writing these insightful, witty, and dare I say Pulitzer-prize worthy pieces (assuming they lower their standards vastly), I run a small startup company here in KC. And it is with that entrepreneurial hat on that I attended the Digital Sandbox KC launch announcement yesterday. This initiative is aimed at helping tech startups, specifically in the areas of data, mobile applications, and data security, receive money and mentoring to test their ideas and see if they can be brought to market. For the record, my company is considering applying for such an opportunity, and I encourage anybody with ideas to do so as well. Applications are open now and can be found at www.digitalsandboxkc.com
While this is an exciting new program that joins a growing list of initiatives to spark new business and entrepreneurship in KC, I was taken aback by something I noticed while looking among the crowd at the announcement…the stark lack of diversity. There were a lot of us in our 20s and 30s, and some a little older, but almost to a person, we were all white. Now I understand that this announcement wasn’t known to a lot of people besides those already ‘in the know,” but I do think it is a reflection of the continuing digital, economic, opportunity, and hope divide that we have in KC.
There are some signs that this landscape is starting to shift, with the efforts of Google and other local groups to bring the poorer communities up to a more even playing field with the more advantaged of us. And I am sure that efforts like this Sandbox will be looking for ideas from all parts of the community.
Yet I think that a lot more needs to be done to grow a generation of digitally-literate, entrepreneurial-spirited, and highly skilled and educated people in disadvantaged areas. As someone who runs a business, I am interested in results, not rhetoric. But with that entrepreneurial hat on again, I admit I am not sure what our next steps should be. To paraphrase our late, great patron of entrepreneurship, Ewing Kauffman, the key to his success was surrounding himself with people smarter than him.
So, I ask, any ideas?