Kauffman program, business accelerator, help local man develop app

From idea to online in less than a year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It took a little more than nine months for Parker Hills to give birth. He came up with the idea for Keyzio, a free app that links home buyers and sellers, in response to a problem his family faced.

"My wife and I sold our house and found ourselves in the position where we were under a 30-day time crunch to find and buy our next house, and nothing was for sale in the area that we were looking," Hills explained.

A month after coming up with the idea, he turned to a Kauffman Foundation program.

"We took our idea to Start Up Weekend back in April, and worked on it for a few more months and applied for the Think Big partners accelerator class in August,'' he said.

After incubating his baby at Think Big, a downtown business accelerator, the Shawnee Mission East grad returned to Kauffman for "A Million Cups", where start ups and established businesses first meet over coffee.

"Each week we feature two local Kansas City based start ups, and they get six minutes to present their business idea or their business to a group of community folks who show up," explained Cameron Cushman, Entrepreneur Manager at the Kauffman Foundation.

Then they get about 20 minutes of questions and answers. The program's rapid success parallels that of Hills' app. While they had only about 12 folks show up at the first one in April, when Keyzio presented there on Tuesday, there were 200 people listening.

"All told we've had about 3,000 people in the city attend one of these events, and we're not even a year old yet," Cushman said. He's hoping that will turn Kansas City into a coffee-fueled cauldron of creativity.

"It's the new firms, it's the young firms that create the jobs. It's the people who come to present at One Million Cups that are really going to change the way that Kansas City works," he added.

Hills agreed.

"Entrepreneurs and start ups are ultimately the companies that are out there creating the bulk of the new jobs, and Kansas City is no exception," he said. "There are a lot of neat things happening in the entrepreneurial community right now."

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