Ep. #1178 - MidxMidwest 2023 Announcement
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey and Dan Kerr, Partner at Flyover Capital, make the MidxMidwest 2023 announcement. Listen to Matt and Dan talk about what MidxMidwest is all about and how this year’s event has built on MidxMidwest 2022’s success. Also, Dan and Matt share what it takes to build a valuable business connection and more.
Covered In This Episode
Kansas City has been evolving into a tech hub for over a decade, but funding is always challenging. Flyover Capital created MidxMidwest to help early-stage startups network with capital providers.
Matt and Dan talk about the success of the 2022 MidxMidwest event and about kicking off this year’s event. They segue into selecting the companies and applicants and what the app looks like. They also discuss the importance of getting to know people face-to-face and community building within the venture ecosystem.
The 2023 MidxMidwest will take place on November 7, 2023, in Kansas City. Find out why you need to get involved by tuning into this Startup Hustle episode.
- What is MidxMidwest? (2:55)
- The event in the eyes of a participant and sponsor (5:15)
- Selecting the companies and applicants (7:03)
- MidxMidwest 2022 was a success (9:18)
- What does the application look like (14:46)
- Feedback from last year’s event (16:32)
- The importance of getting to know people in person (19:08)
- A community-building effort around the venture ecosystem (23:04)
- MidxMidwest 2023 will be on November 7, 2023, at Hotel Kansas City (24:38)
Our view is that tech is everywhere, talent is everywhere. But there are geographic centers of activity. And one of those is Kansas City, right in the middle of the continent. What we tried to do with MidxMidwest is, we view ourselves as the crossroads of venture capital, that venture-backed innovation for the region.… we’re gonna put on a very packed one day of meetings, connections, and social time.– Dan Kerr
There was a time, you know, 10, 15 years ago…people came to these events to sit and watch and watch companies pitch. But now, I mean, we heard that message loud, loud and clear because we’re out there in this market all the time. It’s like, founders have lots of options of where they’re going to meet. They are valuing real connections and a concentrated effort in person, but they’re not there to just sit on stage or sit there to watch. They want to use their time to actually make connections.– Dan Kerr
Last year, when we recorded this episode, we said don’t bring your pitch deck. That’s not what this is. And thank you for that. Because once again, like, there’s just very few things where you’re going to something you’re giving that pitch, like, and I think that that’s the right way to do it…let’s just talk for a second. And see what’s up. No one wants to see your 60-page comprehensive business plan on the first contact. Right? We’ll do that later.– Matt DeCoursey
Most of our investments have been companies we got to know over time, and then they started a process. And we work through that over the course of weeks or a couple of months and invested. That’s the typical time frame, I think….[In] an event like this is, I’m not going to show up, pitch my company, and get investment. That is not the goal here. The goal is you’re going to build relationships with your peers, with other investors, and with other investors that may know other investors.– Dan Kerr
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:01
And we’re back. Back for another episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation and I’m helping get your business funded, not just helps get your business does this growing as what we’re going to talk about in today’s episode. Did you know that MidxMidwest 2023 is now on the calendars hang out for a few minutes? Why introduce today’s guest and give you dates details, a little bit about last year’s event, which was awesome, by the way. Before we get into that today’s episode, Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult and Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team go to FullScale.io to learn more. Spoiler alert, there’s also links down in the show notes for MidxMidwest 2023. You should probably click those while I let you know that joining me today is Dan Kerr, a partner at Flyover Capital, you can find their link, which is FlyoverCapital.com. Straight out of my hometown of Kansas City. Dan, welcome back. I think it’s your third or fourth time on the show.
Dan Kerr 01:12
Yeah, Matt, great to be here. And nice to be a repeat guest.
Matt DeCoursey 01:18
Yeah, you’re gonna you’re gonna end up on one of those like Hall of Fame lists where you know, most, most Startup Hustle appearances or something and you’re up there.
Dan Kerr 01:27
Looking forward to my my Hollywood star.
Matt DeCoursey 01:31
It’s not a star. It’s $ sign for us. So yeah, if you walk around in downtown Kansas City, and you see dollar signs stamped around the sidewalk. I didn’t do it. Yeah. All right. Well, Dan, yeah, you’re the you in Flyover Capital are the organizers of an event that Startup Hustle and Full Scale have been proud to sponsor. I’m really excited about what you guys did last year here in Kansas City. For those of you listening, this event is not just for people in Kansas City. Much like the name of Dan’s business, we often refer to the Midwest as Flyover Country because so many people spend time flying over it. You should slam that plane and come check out all the innovative stuff that people are doing in the Midwest. I know a lot of people out there have really created a sense of awareness around that now. Yeah, I’ll just go ahead and you know, hand the mic over to you. So you can explain to people what MidxMidwest is, and I’ll give you the honors of the date announcement and all that I might even, hang on. I think I might even have some set here. Let’s test the sound effect.
Dan Kerr 02:43
This is very calming.
Matt DeCoursey 02:45
Yeah, I don’t like that. We could do this. Now, you got a solid tell jokes. Now. All right. No more sound effects. Dan, go ahead.
Dan Kerr 02:55
All right. Well, I’m willing with, with that intro, you know, our view is that tech is everywhere, talent is everywhere. But there are geographic centers of activity. And one of those is Kansas City, right in the middle of the continent. You know, while tech is distributed, talent is distributed. We’ve got customers relationship relationships that come together in these clusters. And those of us in the venture community that invest in this region, and the founders in this region really benefit from having in-person activities. A lot of these companies are more remote now. But they need a place to interact with customers, investors, other founders and really bring ideas together. And doing that periodically does yield huge results. So that’s what we tried to do with MidxMidwest is, we view ourselves as the crossroads of venture capital, that venture-backed innovation for the region. Our focuses on the immediate region around Kansas City, but we also bring in investors from both coasts, series A, Series B investors that are not very abundant in the middle of the continent, but they’re eager to invest here. And so we’re gonna put on a very packed one day of meetings, of connections, and social time. Matt, last year, I think you led a group well into the night.
Matt DeCoursey 04:25
I didn’t lead it. I was a member of the group, a member of the group, but there was a speakeasy in the basement of the venue, man, how do we not go to that? Yeah.
Dan Kerr 04:38
You got to be there. That’s the idea. Not just formal meetings, but have a really good time, talk to your peers, talk to others and share ideas. So I think a lot of came out of that.
Matt DeCoursey 04:48
That’s actually what was going on in the grip. I left on a trip the next morning, so unfortunately, I only got to drink water at night, but yeah, so well, what’s the date?
Dan Kerr 05:00
So November 7 is the date,
Matt DeCoursey 05:03
We might have a sound effect for that. There we go. Got it.
Dan Kerr 05:10
All right. Election day if it were an election year, but
Matt DeCoursey 05:15
Ah, it’s also my sister’s birthday. So made it easy for me to remember that’s at the hotel Kansas City. It was the same event last year. Give me a second to explain the event from the eyes and ears of a participant an hour was a sponsor participant. Okay, look, if you listen to the show a lot, you’re probably aware that I’m a pretty candid guy. And I honestly don’t usually like a lot of events that come up, let me tell you why. I feel as an entrepreneur and a founder that I get turned into a show pony. What does that mean? It’s so many of these events. And look, it’s a means to an end. And I doesn’t mean that I hate it. But it doesn’t mean that I want to participate in it. You end up as the entrepreneur being this commodity that vendors are pitching to. And these entities, they go out and they sell the sponsorships for their year long thing. And they say, you’ll get to come to our events. And guess what you’ll get to meet the entrepreneurs, business leaders and Future Business Leaders of XYZ city. And then you go there as the founder, and you end up talking to seven bankers that won’t give you a loan, and a bunch of other people. And guess what, I’m over it. I’m over it. Now. I think Dan knew that. Guys like me are over it. And they went the complete opposite route. And what I love absolutely loved about MidxMidwest in 2022. Was it was a very finite group. He is very militant, you’re like, Okay, look, go apply, there’s a link down there, you can apply to get your company and you’re picking what 60 this year instead of 50? Yeah, its six and 60 people that write checks.
Dan Kerr 05:41
Right, so it’s one to one, you know, so we’ve got individual investors, some 50 firms, and we got 60 founders or a co founder, whoever’s raising money for the business that will be there. So yeah, I mean, the whole idea is, it’s about the actual connections between people. And it’s on a pretty level playing field, we actually, we do recruit some companies to come that we view as you know, the folks that really show the marks to to be there, we also have this open application process, we want to be accessible, but not every company is going to get in. So the idea is we want to select for those that we feel like are the best match for the investors that are coming, we do want to ensure that we’re representing a diverse range of types of businesses, a diverse range of founders, by their backgrounds, and also a range of stages. So seed through basically Series B, and it is all software oriented, we have a few things on the margins. But the idea is these are tech companies. And that’s going to align with a group of investors that are there.
Matt DeCoursey 08:13
These are investors that are active at the moment, not just as, and when we say active folks, like, you know, you can look at, well, XYZ fund might have raised a bunch of money late. And I’m not saying you guys are in this boat, because you know, Flyover Capitals raise $106 million over two funds. But sometimes those funds get allocated, which means that that isn’t an active fund or investor or something. And if they’re not writing checks, they’re kind of a tire kicker, move them on down the line.
Dan Kerr 08:42
Yeah, yeah, all these all these funds are bonafide in the market. You know, active investors, I think the it will be an interesting year because things have pulled back a lot across venture, just because the economy has pulled back. There’s been money is more expensive right now. But these these are folks that we know, well for the most part. And you have many of which we’ve co-invested in. So, we know that these are real check riders, you know, real investors that are there to meet with companies that they’re seriously considering.
Matt DeCoursey 09:18
Yeah, the event was really well done last year. And you know, I love going to an event like this where I know that I’m, so I’ll consider myself to have peers on both sides here. You know, because I’ve been an investor, I’ve been a startup founder, I go in a sponsor seat. And that regard, and there aren’t many of those. Like I mentioned, I don’t want the spot like, I kind of complain about the sponsors. And then I am one but it’s not, it’s not the same vibe and feel. And you know, and with that, the finite number of it. There aren’t seven people there from every company. So you pretty much know at this event that whoever you’re talking to is an active player in something. I’m looking back at last year, first off, had a great time there, there there as a fun, there was a great, a great set of. Okay, a very limited set of programming during the day. Thank you for not making me sit through 12 panels. Yep, that’s another thing. Don’t want to do that. There was a couple of people that talked it was brief. Yeah. valuable.
Dan Kerr 10:25
And there was a, you know, there was a time, you know, 10, 15 years ago, something like that, where people came to these events to sit and watch and watch companies pitch, I think that was when information wasn’t quite so easy to, to just share on in a deck or set up a quick zoom call. But now, yeah, I mean, we heard that message loud, loud and clear because we’re, we’re out there in this market all the time. It’s like, founders have lots of options of where they’re going to meet. They are valuing real connections and a concentrated effort in person, but they’re, they’re not, they’re not there to just sit on stage or sit there to watch, they want to use their time to actually make connections. So that’s what we focused on, we do have some programming just to kind of set the tone, let people know what’s going on in the region, kind of where we’re headed. So we’re all having something to talk about. And this year, we’re going to make a little bit more of an emphasis on the corporate side. So we want to get the companies that are actually customers of startups or invest in startups themselves. at the, at the event, and we’re gonna have some corporate specific programming, because we want to kind of activate that piece. It’s important to our early stage companies, it’s important to other investors that they’re active too. So there is going to be a little bit of an expansion on that side. But in general, it’s very, still very focused on the one to one meetings, both informal and kind of the formal, like meet up session.
Matt DeCoursey 12:03
Company only had someone there to tell dad jokes about entrepreneurship. For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, go find me on the internet. I did a few videos that, you know, down, I’ve been working hard on my pitch deck, I wrote it in Braille. And I’m gonna get funded, man, I can feel it.
Dan Kerr 12:26
You know, that that may walk away.
Matt DeCoursey 12:30
There you go. This is like the second time I’ve ever used the sound effects buttons. And I’m gonna stop now because I carried away but that was the appropriate time for that.
Dan Kerr 12:39
It took me a minute until until the bottom “ching” like I’ve been I knew that that was a joke. I I appreciate the sound effects.
Matt DeCoursey 12:48
Yeah, yeah. And that’s the usual reaction that people have. Anytime I tell a joke, a delayed ha. And then there’s no sound effects. So yeah, yeah. Back to the user experience to the event. You know, the day went by very quickly, which dude, I’ve been to a lot of events where I don’t say that where I’m like, Dude, can we get out of here? And then we’ll come back later for the dinner? Yeah, yeah. Because I’m a skipping class kind of guy on that kind of stuff. I mean, a lot of people are trusting me. But no, but done well, but everyone hung around, great dinner, kind of a social event between, you know, a mixer, you could say, which was great. I enjoy that part. done very well. And then for those that want to hang out, it was a really cool venue. There. There is an old speakeasy in the basement. It’s pretty cool. And, you know, I found myself down there with about, I don’t know, probably 30 or 40 people. Yeah. And, and that’s where I do my best work to be honest. And, you know, I had a few conversations that resulted in people becoming clients at Full Scale. I found a couple of people that were invested and interested in investing. That wasn’t an active offer. Yeah, I mean, for me, but they were in interested and, and really kind of expanded. I mean, I’ve met people from Indianapolis, St. Louis, Omaha, Denver. Probably other places, definitely Kansas City. But you know, so once again, it you don’t have to be from KC to apply for the event. Now, if you want to apply for the event, you just scroll down and click that link in the show notes, or you can go to mid. Now I’ll spell it MidxMidwest.com. It’s easier to just click the link in the show notes, the application periods open. Dan, what does that look like if I’m an applicant, applicant as a company?
Dan Kerr 14:46
Yeah, so the it’s a short application. The whole idea is we’re just providing some basic details about your stage about what your company does. And some of your background and you No, it is intended to be pretty lightweight for you to apply, it is important that you are regional. There’s a little bit of a gray area in that, but we’re looking for companies first Kansas City, immediate surrounding states, and then another kind of concentric circle around that for who we will bring into the event. But if we have a selection committee that will go through those, you know, get back to our applicants in a pretty short timeframe. If you’re applying early, it might be a little bit longer, longer tail to the actual invitation. But we last year got a lot of applications. And we ended up with I think, a very good cohort of companies that were involved, doesn’t cost anything. So to a founder, it is free. In fact, we work, we work at getting sponsors so that we can offer the event for free to founders, investors, for the most part, do pay the the corporate parties pay, but we wanted to make it accessible across the spectrum. So that was that was an important component of the whole setup.
Matt DeCoursey 16:14
So going back to last year, what is some of the feedback you got from the people that weren’t me right now? And any success stories or changes that occurred? Or like any of that? Where what did the what did the what attendees have to say? Or what did they find out of it?
Dan Kerr 16:32
Yeah, I mean, I, I will say what this is one of the first times in my life where I felt like we just kind of nailed it. The, we kept it simple. And we kept it just focused on the core mission, which was to make connections. And so people in general really liked that format. Everybody, of course, everybody’s got their opinion, have a little bit of this a little bit that everybody wants there to be more like the free drinks should have started earlier, you know, okay, well, we can probably we can probably do better on that
Matt DeCoursey 17:06
seems like an appropriate time.
Dan Kerr 17:08
Yeah. And so you know, it’s like, as as these events go, I think it went very well. And we’re going to run the same playbook. We’re considering do we make the one on one meetings, maybe a little bit longer, a little shorter, that kind of thing. But we’re, we’re going to stay with the same general format. We like I say, we’re going to try to do a little bit of programming in the morning. Last year, we started basically over the noon hour, and then the event went afternoon into the evening. We’re we’re working on on some kind of more, more structured programming for the morning. And that’s, that’s, that’s to be announced soon. So yeah, that’s, that’s the general, that’s the general structure, the feedback like, with founders, I mean, I got a number of founders said, Hey, I bet some credible investor relationships through this or I met with pure founders, I know that I remember sitting with the we had kind of a split off of founders and investors kind of right after the main meeting program. And I had, I remember sitting there, there were two founders that had were both in the, like, sort of how to text base SMS based businesses, and they were like, hadn’t met each other before. And we’re like, going deep on how, you know, trading notes on how it all works. So there was there was, in addition to like, investor to founder relationships, there were peer to peer relationships which were formed. And, you know, I think those were enduring after the event. I need to I need to catalogue, the actual, like, who got funding directly from this, I can say that our fund has invested in at least one company that we kind of brought in as part of this and kind of kept developing that relationship. And I’m almost certain there are others. I just need to get those stories, kind of categorized, and probably up on the website. So
Matt DeCoursey 19:08
That’s a hard thing to deal with stuff like that. It’s kind of like, you know, I have a local Kansas City founder that had been on the show. I mean, I’m talking like episode 50 style. And she ended up telling me later she goes, Oh, well, Matt, I don’t know if I told you I got we got our first five clients from being on Startup Hustle. And I was like, Whoa, that’s a big deal. And you know, and with that, you know, because we did a little serious for at the time for, you know, it’s like, precede promising companies or whatever. And, you know, but you look at that, and it’s, these are things that are really hard to track. I mean, I’ve learned this because the podcast is the same way because there’s not like a tracking tag that I can put in the final stage of checkout. You know, that lets us know a lot of that and then and then the thing is, too is there’s guaranteed To be either founder to founder, investor to investor or founder investor relationships that well they met last year. And that’s still going to occur somewhere down the road, the life cycle of these meetings and you know, as as I’ve gotten to know, people that are in private equity and VC like so many of them, if you talk to like I did, what do you think that for companies that you invest have invested in a flyover now outside of the event or whatever, when you actually talk to from first meeting or contact to actually cashing the check? It’s I’ve talked about this so much on the show, because I think too, some people wait too long to seek it, which is mainly the context we’re talking about. But that’s usually like, you know, there’s these things don’t usually happen fast, because there’s a getting to know you period. Right, is involved. What do you think that timeframe normally is?
Dan Kerr 20:56
Yeah, I mean, setting aside 2021, which was just a completely over the top year just deals going crazy. In general. I mean, most of our investments have been companies that we got to know over time, and then they started a process. And we work through that over a course of weeks or a couple of months and invested. That’s the typical time frame, I think, you’re bringing up a great point, which is an event like this is not I’m going to show up, pitch my company, and get investment. tTat is not the goal here. The goal is you’re going to build relationships with your peers, with other investors, other investors that may know other investors. And that is really the intent, it’s not, I’m going to sign up to this as part of my immediate capital raising plan. In some cases, that lines up and it works. But folks should not go into that with the intention, what we really see the best productivity out of it is you get to know people in person. And that establishes a relationship that you can take out of the room and into the conversations about investing in your company over time. So
Matt DeCoursey 22:12
It might be, that it might be that that fund or investor or someone that you meet that refers you to someone else that might not be at the event, you never know. I mean, it’s just really and that’s the whole key. And, and I think he brought up a good point because last year when we recorded this episode, we said don’t bring your pitch deck. That’s not what this is. Yeah. And and thank you for that. Because once again, like, there’s just very few things where you’re going to something you’re giving that pitch, like, and I think that that’s the right way to do it. Meaning like not giving the pitch, like, let’s just talk for a second. Yeah, and see what’s up. No one wants to be able no one wants, no one wants to see your 60-page comprehensive business plan on the first contact. Right? Yeah, especially we’ll do that later.
Dan Kerr 23:04
Yeah, there’s, there’s always time this is, hey, do we have a connection? Do we overlap in strategy? Like, is there a match there? Do we? Do we feel like we’re the right kind of people to work together? Or maybe do we know people in common that might be helpful to each other’s business. So that’s, that’s the that’s the goal. In this case, again, it gets back to the fact that we’re not up on stage pitching as founders. That that does try to gear towards, hey, I’m ready to invest, listen to a deeper story. We just don’t think that’s as effective anymore. And we want to do, we’re doing this because we want it to be effective. We’re, you know, I come at this as a manager of a venture fund, not as an event manager, we wanted to do this because we saw a need in the market. We want to showcase our companies, we want to bring out other Kansas City investors. And by the way, I’m partnered on this with Maggie Kenefick, who has her own fund, we we invite all of the Kansas City funds and people in the funding ecosystem to take part in this. So it’s intended to bring, bring all of our companies and showcase them, give them contacts give them more repetition, just discussing their company and meeting with people. So it’s, it’s ultimately kind of a community building effort around the venture ecosystem.
Matt DeCoursey 24:38
Once again, people November 7, 2023 at Hotel Kansas City. There’s a link in the show notes that will take you to where you can apply. If you want to learn more about Dan’s fund, that’s FlyoverCapital.com, there’s a link for that down below. As a quick reminder, this announcement has been brought to you by FullScale.io Because finding software developers does not have to be difficult, especially when you go to FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. You can use FullScale.io platform to define your technical needs and then see what available developers, testers and leaders are ready to join your team. FullScale.io to learn more. November 7, 2023, mark the calendar, click the link, fill out the application. It is short, it is easy and it is worth your time to get to this event. Dan, with this announcement, what do you want to say on the way out?
Dan Kerr 25:39
Yeah, please apply. We are eager to hear your story. We hope we can include you in the event. I think we’re going to have a really incredible set of investors there this year. I, every week on getting outreach telling, telling us to let them know when we’re going to have the event. So, I think we’re gonna be oversubscribed on this. And you know, if you were last year, here’s any indication we will be and now the word is out. So, apply and hope to see you in Kansas City in November.
Matt DeCoursey 26:14
Dan, thanks for joining this event. People, listeners, get to work. We’ll see you there.
Dan Kerr 26:21