January 27, 2020

Kansas City Business Journal: OHub x Boddle Learning

Five startups will join the inaugural class of the OHUB.KC Minority Accelerator, which is part of the KC.UP strategic initiative to support minority entrepreneurs. One of the startups chosen is Kansas City-based ed tech startup Boddle Learning Inc. Pictured are Boddle co-founders Clarence Tan (far left) and Edna Martinson (second from right)

Five startups have been chosen for the inaugural class of the OHUB.KC Minority Accelerator.

The accelerator is part of KC.UP, a new strategic initiative between the Economic Development Corp. of Kansas City and Atlanta-based Opportunity Hub (OHUB), a multicampus coworking space, entrepreneurship center and tech hub that hosts hundreds of events annually. Their goal is to support minority entrepreneurs and connect them with the resources and network they need to grow their businesses.

To qualify for the accelerator, the startups must maintain or establish a presence in Kansas City and have "scaleable business concepts that can create jobs and build economic prosperity for the city," according to a Friday release. The five startups were whittled from 180 entrepreneurs who applied for OHUB's entrepreneurship support programming which launched in Kansas City in August. Sixty of the founders were selected for a four-month startup boot camp and 10 were selected to advance to pre-accelerator education program NewMe.

"This is just the beginning," Rodney Sampson, founder and CEO of OHUB, said in the release. "The enthusiasm in the community made this one of our most successful launches and we're excited to say that KC is now on the national stage."

The accelerator kicked off Friday and will culminate in a March demo day at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.

One of the accelerator's startups is Boddle Learning Inc., a Kansas City-based ed tech company that developed a self-paced video game featuring math content and assessments for a variety of grades. Boddle launched its game nationwide in September.

"It's an easy way to get them excited about what they're learning and in a way that makes them not realize they're continuing to learn and practice because they're so engaged in the game," Gordon Parks Elementary School Principal Jennifer Hagemaster said during a previous interview.

In the release, Boddle co-founders Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan highlighted the value of the accelerator: "Being a part of the Kansas City ecosystem has been instrumental in the growth of Boddle Learning, and getting this amazing opportunity to be a part of the OHUB.KC accelerator is pivotal in helping us reach and impact more schools in our community. We are excited for all the programming and looking forward to ways that we can give back."

The other entrepreneurs in the accelerator are:

  • Philip Hickman, founder of Kansas City's PlaBook Education LLP, which developed innovative reading technology
  • Yulkendy Valdez and Josuel Plasencia, co-founders of St. Louis' Forefront Inc., a software-as-a-service that helps employers attract and develop talent and create an inclusive workplace
  • Don Ward, founder of Austin's Laundris Corp., an platform that helps hotels streamline their inventory and asset management of linens
  • Dumarkus Davis, founder of Atlanta's Musicbük Inc., a marketplace that matches individuals with music instructors for private lessons.