January 14, 2013

Google's ultra-fast Internet creates 'Silicon Prairie'

Kansas City has become startup-friendly, thanks to a fiber-optic network being tested that advertises speeds of up to a gigabyte per second.

By MARIA SUDEKUM/The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Matthew Marcus works at his desk in the basement of Kansas City Startup Village in Kansas City, Kan., on Friday. Marcus started the Village, which houses several startup companies and takes advantage of the high-speed Internet.

The Associated Press

"The hope is that these startups will move their operations to Kansas City and this will really bless Kansas City, bring jobs and taxes and we'll build a really cool tech scene," Barreth said.

A few homes away from the "Home for Hackers" is the headquarters of the Kansas City Startup Village, which was started by local entrepreneur Matthew Marcus and where Mike Farmer, founder of mobile search app Leap2.com, has his offices. Farmer said Google Fiber brought attention to Kansas City's startup culture, "because it sort of ignites the imagination about what you can do with that sort of bandwidth capability."

"Most every week I meet one or two or three people that are looking to come in from out of town," he said.

Despite the growth, it remains a challenge for startups to raise money from Kansas City, Farmer said. Silicon Valley venture capital groups in particular want startup entrepreneurs to be nearby in California, he said.

"I've had some really incredible conversations with some big-name VCs, and their first statement is that when you're in this early stage you have to be here, right next to us," he said. "That is a hurdle."

Andy Kallenbach recently launched FormZapper.com, an online forms management site, and also has offices near the "Home for Hackers." He said Kansas City has no aspirations to be the next Silicon Valley and may never have a "Facebook or a giant consumer-level company that takes over the world."

He said it may also be "better for us" that it's more difficult to raise money in Kansas City.

"The hardest thing about a startup is execution, OK? A lot of people can go out and raise money and get money for an idea or for some product or they can come up with some awesome presentation. But it doesn't matter if you can't build something that people will use," Kallenbach said. "I think here in Kansas City you have to at some point put your money where your mouth is. You have to 'do.' "
 

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