May 20, 2022

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Techstars closes Kansas City accelerator as global network focuses on larger-growth markets

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Techstars is discontinuing its long-running Kansas City program, the global accelerator network confirmed Tuesday, with the 2021 cohort expected to be the last group hosted in the metro.

“Techstars has made a strategic decision to focus on larger-growth markets, and therefore does not plan to add companies through a Kansas City program in the immediate future,” Techstars said in a statement to Startland News.

“Techstars Kansas City program alumni continue to drive innovation across various sectors and will continue to have deep links to Kansas City-based mentors and investors,” the statement continued. “For our program alumni, Techstars is a lifelong relationship. Our founders will continue to benefit from the Techstars worldwide network, including access to mentors, and other events and opportunities we offer our network.”

Maria Flynn, managing director for Techstars Kansas City, will remain with Techstars until February when she will resume efforts with Ambiologix, a consulting company she founded in 2020. (Before joining Techstars, Flynn was the CEO of Orbis Biosciences, which was acquired by Adare Pharma in 2020.) 

Techstars did not comment on the status of any other Kansas City staff or offices.

Techstars Kansas City 2021 class

Flynn and Lesa Mitchell, general manager of the Americas for Techstars and a previous leader of the Kansas City program, declined to speak with Startland News specifically about the move to close the local accelerator — though Flynn lauded the work of the 2021 cohort, their Techstars mentors, and their successful run, which concluded in February.

Click here to check out coverage of the Techstars Kansas City 2021 demo day.

Two members of the 2021 cohort — afloat, led by Sarah-Allen Preston, Laura McKnight, Olivia Lynn; and MyAnIMl, led by Shekhar Gupta — were among the companies named to Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2022.

The accelerator has been fertile ground for a number of emerging Kansas City companies through the years, with Mitchell previously pointing to the success of the exited proptech startup Zego (which completed Techstars in 2017 as CasaiQ before its rebranding).

Click here to read more about Mitchell’s ongoing, expanded role at Techstars.

Kansas City startups and founders are urged to apply for accelerator programs in other cities, Techstars said.

“We are continually launching accelerators in large markets and increasing the number of programs in cities where we currently operate,” Techstars said. “Techstars operates more than 50 accelerators around the world, each welcoming founders and startups regardless of their location. Kansas City-based startups are encouraged to apply to any and all Techstars accelerators that are a fit for their needs.”

Even with mid-pandemic changes and newly remote opportunities for accelerators, Techstars remains committed to fostering programs in distinct startup ecosystems, the group said.

“Different geographies and cultures bring their own uniqueness to accelerator programs, including diversity of talent and thought, and industry presence and expertise,” Techstars said.

The Kansas City program took a brief hiatus in 2019 before returning with cohorts in 2020 and 2021.

Click here to read more about Lesa Mitchell’s thoughts on the Kansas City accelerator’s track record for startup success.

“Techstars is a lifelong relationship,” the organization told Startland News. “Techstars will continue to work with and support all Techstars Kansas City alumni and looks forward to working with many more Kansas City-based startups in the future through our other accelerator programs around the US and world.”

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Techstars closes Kansas City accelerator as global network focuses on larger-growth markets