Contact: Jill Meyer, Senior Director, Technology Venture Studio

UMKC Innovation Center

Kansas City, Mo. (Jan. 4, 2021) Digital Sandbox KC completed its fourth-quarter  application cycle by adding six new companies to its roster, bringing the total number of startups  awarded in 2021 to 20 and advancing the program’s mission to bring innovative ideas in the  Kansas City region to life. 

From diversity, equity and inclusion and skill-based ed-tech, to PAAS (Publishing as a Service), the latest companies selected for funding are building solutions in fast-growing industries. For  Xreps co-founder Brandon Fuhr, receiving Sandbox funding opens up a pivotal opportunity. 

“We have a Power Five conference NCAA Division I university ready to implement a pilot of  XReps in 2022 and are thankful to have a local partner in Digital Sandbox KC providing these  early-stage funds to help make that pilot a success,” Fuhr says. 

“We’re thrilled to round out the year with six outstanding, new additions to the Sandbox,” says  Jill Meyer, senior director of Technology Venture Studio at the UMKC Innovation Center. “We had a really strong quarter and saw the scalable, investment-worthy tech that some of our  region’s most driven, innovative founders are building.” 

Since the program’s inception in 2013, the Sandbox has provided project-development funding  for 160 area startups, which has spurred an impressive $154 million in total follow-on funding.  

Digital Sandbox KC is a proof-of-concept program that significantly and rapidly moves early stage entrepreneurs from concept to commercialization. It is a unique collaboration among  private, public, university/research and philanthropic organizations. 

“These six companies demonstrate the creativity and diversity of our region’s technology  founders and problem solvers,” Meyer says. “We’re geared up to see even more tech in the new  year and look forward to continuing to help innovators build viable, scalable solutions.” 

Here’s more information on the six latest companies selected for Digital Sandbox KC support:

AZELLA Grain Valley, Missouri 

AZELLA is the only full-service SaaS marketing platform to include automated branding, dynamic website building, AI marketing and matchmaking for financial advisers. 

Gaining funding from Digital Sandbox KC is transformational for our growth trajectory,” says David Robertson, founder and CEO of Azella.” The investment will be used to accelerate  development of our marketing platform to service thousands of financial advisers at scale. We  could not be more thankful to have a program like Digital Sandbox KC in the area.”  

InventXYZ — Kansas City, Missouri 

InventXYZ is equipping high school students with cutting-edge, hands-on skills for the future. The company embeds real-world experiences in every high school so 100% of kids get immersed  in hands-on STEM, computer science and artificial intelligence. 

The Digital Sandbox KC funding will allow us to kickstart our Mixed Reality curriculum and  partner with professional game developers and motion capture animators,” says Nikil Ragav,  CEO of InventXYZ. “Kids will get to learn how to make virtual-reality experiences from real  professionals, like you would with MasterClass. In the process, students have to learn the history  so they can make their recreation as accurate as possible.” 

MoodSpark (aka Telememory) — Kansas City, Kansas 

MoodSpark is a digital companion that detects sadness and uplifts with memories, conversations  and video visits from friends, families and caregivers. 

Digital Sandbox KC funding is instrumental to the tools we are building for our at-risk senior  population,” says Eliot Arnold, CEO of MoodSpark. “We are preparing to launch our latest  product concept across the next 50 end users. We are confident this investment will help us  accelerate commercialization and growth.” 

SEPOW — Kansas City, Missouri 

SEPOW is the “Yelp” for diversity, equity and inclusion. The company provides a tech-driven  approach designed to mitigate instances of discrimination by equipping business with effective  solutions and empowering users.

Receiving proof-of-concept funds from Digital Sandbox KC is a dream come true,” says Aishah  Augusta-Parham, founder and CEO of SEPOW. “SEPOW is now able to build our technology,  test demand, avoid large capital losses, receive guidance to prepare for follow-on funding and  accelerate toward commercialization.” 

PageMaster (aka Pocketale) — Overland Park, Kansas 

PageMaster is an online social marketplace that helps authors, literary agents and publishers gain  more context on one another to reduce slush piles, unconscious bias and submission error  through context and clarity. 

The average literary agent receives 5,000 to 10,000 queries from aspiring authors each year,”  says Jaquan Sirls, founder of PageMaster. “Within that year, approximately 95% of queries are  rejected, resulting in only three to five authors being selected from the remaining 5%. The  Digital Sandbox KC funds are helping me build an MVP to dramatically increase those odds for  creators in both traditional and industry-disruptive ways.”  

XReps Olathe, Kansas 

XReps delivers Extended Reality (XR) training & gaming products aimed at democratizing  access to elite football training for the youth market, transforming quarterback training and evaluation at all levels of football and providing unique experiences to football fans worldwide.  This is accomplished via XReps’ patent-pending XR platform. 

Digital Sandbox KC funding is helping us accelerate the launch of our enterprise dashboard  used by football teams and camps,” says Xreps co-founder and CEO Brandon Fuhr. 

Digital Sandbox KC is honored to support these new awardees and is accepting new  applications for its first-quarter 2022 cycle and presentations. Visit for more information and to submit your idea. 

About Digital Sandbox KC

Digital Sandbox KC, a program of the UMKC Innovation Center, is an unprecedented  partnership among private companies, universities, entrepreneurial support organizations and  government agencies across the Kansas City region and is designed to spur the creation of high growth companies. The Sandbox provides proof-of-concept resources, including market  validation, prototyping and beta testing support to develop digital technologies within new and  existing businesses.

About the UMKC Innovation Center

From whiteboard to boardroom, the UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and  the community to spark entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country. With a  suite of high-impact programs, the center helps emerging and existing business owners — whether they are students, faculty or community members — hone their business basics, evaluate  commercialization opportunities and connect with the right resources at the right time.  Innovation Center programs include the Missouri Small Business Development Center,  Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Whiteboard2Boardroom, Digital Sandbox KC,  ScaleUP! Kansas City, Growth360, SourceLink, MOSourceLink and KCSourceLink.