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It’s been a blast to have a house in Kansas City. I’ve made a bunch of new friends from it and have been able to participate in the radical growth of the startup community there, especially in the KC Startup Village where my house is located. I’ve gotten to experience Google Fiber first hand and also helped mentor a neat startup called HandPrint who has been living in the house for the past six months. And it continues to be really fun to tell the story of the look on Amy’s face when I came home and said “hey – I bought a house in Kansas City today.”
When I bought the house, it had an attic that was a mess. A really gross mess. Think mouse turds, busted boards, and damp rotting wood mess. I hired a contractor who the HandPrint folks hung out with and he turned it into a great new loft. Turnstone (a Steelcase company) offered to furnish the house as a way of highlighting their furniture in a startup environment.
It turned out awesome. If you’ve been following the story at all, the video below will give you a few minute glimpse into the house, some of the players including the amazing Lesa Mitchell who helped make it all happen, the snazzy Turstone-loft, as well as give you a look at the HandPrint team.
I’m trying to figure out the next fun place to buy a house like this.
Techstars has launched another “powered by” accelerator, this time with Sprint around mobile health. It’s based in Kansas City (Sprint’s headquarters) and is our fourth powered by Techstars accelerator, joining Nike, Kaplan, and R/GA.
I’m an enormous fan of four things about the Sprint Accelerator – what we call “PBTS” (powered by Techstars), mobile health, Kansas City, and Sprint.
The PBTS strategy is one we started working on in 2012. We knew that we would continue to expand Techstars geographically (in 2013 we’ve added London, Austin, and Chicago). At the same time we were talking to a lot of large companies with outstanding brands about building accelerators specifically around their ecosystems. It dawned on us that the dynamics of an accelerator could work as well for building innovation and new company’s around a particular company/product ecosystem as it could for a city. So far the results have been awesome with outstanding companies coming out of the Nike+ Accelerator and the Kaplan EdTech Accelerator.
As an investor in Fitbit, I’m an enormous believer in quantified self. As the son of a doctor who is obsessed with repairing the healthcare system I’m regularly subjected to hearing about the massive flaws in today’s healthcare system. My dad has beaten into my head that my healthcare is my responsibility, and I’ve become an enormous believer in consumer-driven healthcare. I’ve never been interested in investing in medical devices, but I’m very interested in the consumerization of the medical device industry. And the intersection point of many of these ideas for me is mobile health.
Kansas City has a special place in my heart. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years, going back to the mid-1990s when I was an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Kauffman Foundation. I bought a house there last year to experiment with Google Fiber in the middle of the Kansas City Startup Village. While I don’t like BBQ or the Kansas City Chiefs, I like the people a lot and think it has one of the most exciting growing startup communities in the United States.
Sprint makes me smile. Many of you know that I have a long history and relationship with Softbank, which just acquired Sprint. I’m very loyal to my friends at Softbank and love any opportunity to work with them – directly or indirectly. Sprint was my first long distance carrier – if I think hard enough I can probably remember my Sprint calling card number – and I used it many times to call my parents and my ex-wife when I was at school at MIT. And Sprint is a great US entrepreneurial story that traces its roots to the Brown Telephone Company in Abilene, KS in 1899.
This is going to be a fun one! Applications are open.
Handprint is working on some amazing 3D printing and editing technology. We had plenty of applications for the competition – many of them very interesting – but Handprint really captured our imagination.
As winners of the competition, they’ll get to live in the house rent free for a year. I’ll pay for Google Fiber and the house; they cover their own expenses. There are no strings attached – I don’t get any equity and there are no downstream obligations for them.
Google Fiber was installed last week so when they move in they’ll immediately have access to 1 gigibit Internet.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing this as an experiment around Startup Communities. I’m fascinated about what is going on in Kansas City around Google Fiber and rather than observe, I decided to participate.
Thanks to Ben Barreth for inspiring this project with his Homes for Hackers discussion with me when we met at Thinc Iowa. And thanks for Lesa Mitchell at Kauffman Foundation for all of her support. Both Ben and Lesa have done all the hard work on this project – I’m deeply appreciative of their help. Also, thanks to Scott Case of Startup America for helping judge the competition.
A huge congrats to the Handprint team which consists of Mike Demarais, Alexa Nguyen, Jack Franzen, and Derek Caneja. I look forward to getting to know you better over the next year. Welcome to the Fiberhood!
The chance to apply to win a slot to live in my Google Fiber enabled house in Kansas City are open for one more week – ending on March 25th at 17:00 CDT. Last week Google opened up Fiber access to the neighborhood my house is in and I registered for the $120 / month plan (which will be included in the house – no charge for that, or for rent, for the winners.)
I’m looking for entrepreneurs who are committed to living in Kansas City for a year who have a unique and novel approach to taking advantage of 1 gigibit Internet. The house is next to Homes for Hackers and down the block from KC Startup Village. The winners get to live for free in the house for a year and get to be kept warm by 1 gigibit Internet.
I bought a house in Kansas City on Monday. It’s next door to the Homes for Hackers and KC Startup Village. It will have Google Fiber in it. I hope it becomes an integral part of the nation’s first Google Fiberhood.
I’m not going to be living in it. Instead, I’m going to let entrepreneurs live / work in it. Rent free. As part of helping create the Kansas City startup community. And to learn about the dynamics of Google Fiber. And to have some fun.
Here’s how it’s going to work. The Kauffman Foundation and I are running the Feld’s KC Fiber House Competition. Entries can be submitted online starting now. Entries are open through Friday March 22. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Up to five winners will be selected from among the applications received. They’ll get to live and work in the house for a year rent free. I’m not taking any equity in these companies – I using a “give before you get” philosophy here to experiment, learn, and help the Kansas City startup community.
The judges will be me, Scott Case of Startup America Partnership, David Cohen of TechStars and Lesa Mitchell of the Kauffman Foundation. We’ll be looking for the innovative potential of their startups and their companies’ ability to leverage Google Fiber. We’ll all be informal mentors and friends to the people who win and end up living in the house.
This came about through meeting with Ben Barreth, who created Homes for Hackers, at the Thinc Iowa conference. I loved what Ben was up to and offered to help. I thought about it more over the next month and then wrote him and Lesa Mitchell at Kauffman a note asking if it would be useful for me to buy a house near the Hacker House and open it up to entrepreneurs. This is what resulted.
I have a couple of very specific goals. First, I want to set an example using some of the principles I talk about in Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City. Next, I’m fascinated with Google Fiber and the idea of 1GB Internet access to the home so I want to experiment and see what smart entrepreneurs can come up with. I have a long relationship with Kauffman and Kansas City going back to the mid-1990′s and I want to support the development and growth of the Kansas City startup community. And finally, when Amy and I talked about the idea of it, we agreed it would be a fun thing to do.
If you are an entrepreneur at a startup and want to live rent free for a year in a house with a 1GB Internet connection, apply now!