Digital Sandbox adds two startups to Independence program

Drones4Hire and Hidden Abilities

Digital Sandbox KC announced Tuesday that it selected Drones4Hire and Hidden Abilities for its Independence, Missouri program.

In addition to up to $20,000 in project development funds via Digital Sandbox, the program gives the startups access to workspace at WerksLab and business support via the Ennovation Center, a business incubator located in Independence.

Drones4Hire’s platform facilitates the request of drone pilots for businesses and individuals. The funding from Digital Sandbox will help the startup further accelerate, said Drones4Hire CEO Cory Mullins.

“The co-working space and support at the Ennovation Center will be a fantastic resource as we expand our company’s platforms to provide a truly exceptional drone hiring service for our client,” said Mullins in a release.

Hidden Abilities — which was selected as a finalist for the LaunchKC grant competition — developed a handheld device for those with dyslexia called the Read ‘n Style pen. The tool scans text and reads it aloud, turning any book into an audiobook.

“This grant from the Sandbox is a tremendous boost for Hidden Abilities,” Hidden Abilities co-founder Payden Miller said in a release. “With funding from the Sandbox and help from the experts at the Ennovation Center, we’ll be able to start building an intellectual property portfolio that will protect our invention and add great value to our company. We are so grateful for this support.”

The Digital Sandbox established a partnership with the City of Independence y el Independence Economic Development Council in 2016. With similar programs existing in Olathe, Kansas y St. Joseph, Missouri, el Independence program aims to expand Digital Sandbox resources to the greater Kansas City metro area, said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox.

“The partnership with Independence is doing exactly what we’d hoped it would,” said Shackelford in a release. “We are continuing to feed the funnel and drive both the quality and quantity of entrepreneurs entering the market. In a short time, we’ve found three high-growth Independence businesses to support and I know there are many more to come.”

Since its launched in 2013, Digital Sandbox has worked with more than 350 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies, creating more than 480 jobs and $12 million in payroll. In addition, the program has led to nearly $38.2 million in follow-on funding.

The partnership with Digital Sandbox is great for Independence, said Lee Langerock, executive director of the Ennovation Center.

“The Independence EDC is pleased to work with Hidden Abilities and Drones4Hire and help the founders take their ideas to market,” Langerock said in a release. “Both companies are great iNtech growth program clients and with the help of our experts, will have the support and resources needed to realize their business goals. We appreciate the investment that the Sandbox Independence program is making in these early-stage, technology companies.”

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