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InvestMidwest aims to turn connections into dollars; startups can apply to pitch now

Attending InvestMidwest as an audience member was so impactful for Nick Love that the Love Lifesciences co-founder hopes to pitch his own company when the startup-investor conference and showcase returns this spring to Kansas City — for the first time since 2019.

“InvestMidwest allowed us to speak with investors, but was also structured such that there was time for us to simply co-mingle with investors in a relaxed ‘after hours’ environment,” said Love, who noted he found value in simply networking with potential funders and other founders at the spring 2023 event in St. Louis.

He hopes to deepen those connections in April 2024 when InvestMidwest welcomes dozens of new companies to its showcase. Love already has submitted his application to pitch, he said.

Early decision applications are open until Dec. 4, and applications reopen Jan. 5.

Click here to apply for the April 17-18 InvestMidwest Conference.

The best-fit companies are those seeking Series A funding, operating in health, agriculture, or information/data technology sectors, and are located in or primarily conduct business in the Midwest, said Claire Kinlaw, executive director at InvestMidwest.

Last spring’s conference saw remarkable success stories, such as Boat Planet, which made more than a hundred invaluable connections in a single night, organizers said. These connections translated into millions of dollars in investments, reinforcing the Heartland’s position as a burgeoning hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, according to InvestMidwest.

Several investors and founders who Love spoke to at the 2023 event indicated that funders with preliminary interest in companies after their pitches were reaching out to the entrepreneurs during social gatherings at the event, he said, wasting no time in establishing relationships that could lead to investment.

“Even if you aren’t pitching, introductions will be made, relationships grow stronger, and you hear very critical insights from investors and founders regarding the state of funding, who is deploying capital, who is laying low, and which investors that founders are more keen to speak with,” said Love, whose Overland Park-based Love Lifesciences develops injection devices to revolutionize the patient experience and improve health outcomes.

Many investors also already have companies on their radar before the pitch, Love noted, with InvestMidwest offering an opportunity for them to see founders who’ve piqued their interest in action — and receive valuable updates on startups with which they’re considering deals.

Michelle Murray, Segue Partners, center, connects with Melissa Grizzle, Missouri Technology Corporation, and Jill Meyer, Technology Venture Studio at UMKC Innovation Center, during the 2023 InvestMidwest conference; photo courtesy of InvestMidwest

In addition to entrepreneurs, the event needs local participation from Kansas City investors and innovation community members, said Kinlaw.

“We encourage our supporters to share this wonderful opportunity with their network, helping us build an even stronger Midwest innovation ecosystem,” she said. “The success of the event and presenting companies is a testament to the collaborative spirit that defines our region.”

A rebooted version of InvestMidwest debuted in St. Louis earlier this year after going on hiatus through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The annual event alternates between Missouri’s eastern and western metropolitan areas each year with Kansas City tapped for 2024.

Click here to view the preliminary schedule for the April 17-18, 2024 conference.

Day 1 for the spring event is planned for the Kansas City Club with a reception that evening at the downtown Kansas City Public Library. Day 2 is set for the conference center at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.