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1 Million Cups Kicks Off 2014 with Knoda and Kansas City Shock

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Kyle Geary – The Hale Center For Journalism

After a brief break from their weekly Wednesday morning meetings, 1 Million Cups is back.

The two startups who presented this chilly morning are very different, but share one thing in common – sports.

James Flexman and Kyle Rogers of Knoda after their speech at 1 Million Cups.

Knoda, started by Kyle Rogers and James Flexman, is an app that lets the user bet on outcomes without money, with a focus on sports. In fact, Rogers says that the basic idea, which would become Knoda, has its roots in predicting the outcome of Jayhawks basketball with his mother. He would be upset when she did not remember his predictions, so he sought to remedy that forgetfulness. With Knoda, users are able to predict outcomes of anything, their predictions are recorded, and, depending on the outcome, their ranking for correct predictions is helped or hurt. Users can also agree or disagree with other users’ predictions. The company received funding from an undisclosed amount of seed funding in November 2013 to further support their venture.

“Kansas City is an awesome community,” Flexman said. “You can get meetings with almost anybody; it’s a really, really supportive community. It’s great.”

While this is Knoda’s first time presenting at 1 Million Cups, they say they have been in the crowd a few times prior. They have seen the effect that it has on the entrepreneurial community, especially when it comes to networking with valuable assets for success.

“With a couple hundred people in the room,” Flexman said, “who knows who is either going to be that person or connect you to that person?”

Shawn Daugherty, CEO of the Women’s Premier Soccer League’s team The Kansas City Shock, was the other presenter this morning. This was the second appearance at 1 Million Cups for the Shock. He says his presentation this time was a recap of what has happened since last time.

Shaun Daugherty (Right) speaking with an individual after his presentation at 1 Million Cups.

“We had a successful season on the sports side,” Daugherty said. “Kansas City seems to like winning sports teams, as it turns out.”

But Daugherty claims that the Shock is much more than just a professional team.

“It’s a women’s soccer team, that is, a premier soccer team, that consists of college and post-college players,” Daugherty said. “It is a social media incubator for the women’s soccer world. It is a graphic art media organization within the women’s soccer world. We went ahead and added real estate development as well, and, as of a couple of weeks ago, we are also in the software design business.”

So, a little bit of everything.

“We just don’t sleep. We believe in Dunkin’ Donuts and not sleeping. It’s the two rules we have.”

He is right: it is more than just a professional soccer team.  The Shock offers programs such as Kansas City Shock Academy where high school-aged kids can be part of a team to train and play against collegiate-level athletes. They are also developing 101 acres of land in the Kansas City Northland  for a soccer complex. According to their website, this would make the Kansas City Shock the “first women’s soccer program to develop their own facilities.”

Both presenters acknowledge the effect that 1 Million Cups has on local business and assess how the Kansas City startup community compares nationwide.

“The beauty of 1 Million Cups is it’s a connection to technology; it’s a connection to business; it’s a reminder to those who forgot us, and, most importantly, it’s our way of continuing to make sure that we are interacting with the whole emphasis and identity of Kansas City,” Daugherty said.

“There can’t be a city that really tops what you see here in Kansas City,” Flexman said. “So supportive, so open. It’s going to be really exciting to see what happens the next few years.”

1 Million Cups is held every Wednesday at the Kauffman Foundation from 9-10:30 a.m.

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