Sock 101 Brings You Another “Of the Month” Club

sock of the monthKansas City-based Sock 101 has had a big first year.

They figured out how to make professional, high quality $7 socks, launched as a side project, completed a Kickstarter campaign, and finished a huge holiday season. With a big 2013 behind them, they are looking grow even more during 2014.

The company already had a sock of the month club, but with new designs and colors, they’re ready to expand the offering. For $9/month (which includes shipping) customers get a pair socks delivered to their door. Each design will be appropriate to the month: Mardi Gras in February, green in March, Christmas-y in December, etc.

Sock 101 isn’t the only sock of the month club. Sock Club offers a similar service, but at a $12 price point.

Sock 101 cofounder Jason Grills sees two big differentiators besides price, though:

  1. Sock 101 manufactures their own socks instead of sourcing them from other manufacturers. This is important because it lets the company fully control the sock quality.
  2. While the Sock Club has some fun styles, Sock 101 focuses on being fun, but professional. These are socks you can wear to the office. “Socks are the new tie,” Grills told me over the phone.

Besides their sock of the month club, though, Sock 101 is also focusing on growing through corporate clients. It turns out, having matching socks is a thing. Local organizations like the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau placed a huge order and sells the socks to tourists as well as wearing them to work. National startups like Influence & Co also joined in the fun, ordering matching socks for the whole team.

Grills told me they were also in talks with several multi-million dollar national corporations, but he wouldn’t disclose their names just yet.

The thing thing that has surprise Grills the most is the enthusiasm customers have, the excitement they display over their socks. He says the company regularly gets pictures of customers and their socks posted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

“It’s a fun company,” Grills said. “We’re not creating a new technology that’s going to change the world, but we’re bringing smiles to people’s faces.”

The “Must-Attend Conference for Entrepreneurs” Everywhere Else Tennessee is headed back to Memphis this Spring. We’re releasing the first 50 tickets for 50% off exclusively to our newsletter subscribers on Jan 13th. Don’t miss your shot by signing up here!

Meet Everywhere Else Cincinnati Speaker Blake Miller, Managing Director Think Big Accelerator

Blake Miller, ThinkBig Accelerator, Kansas City, Startups, Everywhere Else Cincinnati, EE CincinnatiWith Everywhere Else Cincinnati rapidly approaching, we’re going to spend some time introducing you to our great speakers. There are still a limited number of early bird discount attendee, investor, and Startup Village tickets still available at

As a partner at Think Big Partners, Blake Miller is the Managing Director of the Think Big Accelerator program, consults for both local and national startup companies, and manages the Think Big in-house dev team (also known as Think Big Labs).  Blake’s strengths are in ideation, innovation, UI/UX, growth hacking, and connecting the dots.  Blake has co-founded a number of tech startups, including BodeeFit, WeeJay, Inboun, and Pitchcaster. He sits on the board of Keyzio and is an adviser to SquareOffs and Kahootz.


What was your first experience with startups?

I’ve always kind of had my own “startup” in that I’ve been building websites for small businesses since I was 13.  However my first true startup was not in tech.  About 4 years ago, I got into a new Consumer Packaged Good called The Secret Sauce.  The BBQ Sauce was outstanding, it won the American Royal BBQ Competition (out of 500+ sauces) 2 years in a row.  We did well at first when we started bottling, but starting a CPG company is REALLY HARD and EXPENSIVE.  We ended up failing after getting a large purchase order from Costco, but couldn’t get a bank to loan us the money to produce the order because of Costco’s terms.

What made you want to become an entrepreneur?

Doing the same thing the rest of my life terrifies me.  I just can’t imagine having the same routine for the rest of my life.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But I get to work with some of the smartest people anywhere day in and day out solving real problems.  It also probably stems from my parents, they’ve been entrepreneurs ever since I can remember.

What has been the most important thing you’ve learned running an accelerator?

Two things actually: no matter how experienced the entrepreneur… EVERYONE NEEDS help because building a company is hard. Two, there’s no such thing as “the traditional accelerator model.” We realized this early on.  Although many problems that arise for entrepreneurs start to look the same, every company is a bit different and needs a slightly different approach.  To add to that, not everyone is always in the same space and not every company can naturally progress at the same speed.

What has been your  biggest failure and biggest success at Think Big Partners and what did you learn from them?

We’ve made A LOT of mistakes and I think depending on who you ask in our organization, you’ll probably get a million different answers. I’d say the biggest is our initial approach to the accelerator model. It was definitely a “me too” approach, which I think you are seeing a lot of across the country. We quickly realized that we needed to do a lot more then just hand an entrepreneur a check, tell them here’s our list of mentors, let us know if you want to be connected, and “oh yea we will have office hours once a week.” This model obviously works for some, but what we experienced was that entrepreneurs need more resources.

In my opinion one of our biggest success is a result of that failure. We quickly realized that many entrepreneurs need help actually building their product. Luckily we didn’t realize this too late. We built a team of devs and designers so that we could help the entrepreneurs build MVP’s and get to market faster. Our success in this instance is that out of 6 companies in our first cohort, 5 are in the market, gaining customers, and generating revenue.

What do you like most about working with startups?

Solving Problems. I could expand on that a million different ways, but it always comes back to the challenge of solving real problems. It sounds far reaching but there is something extremely sexy to me about waking up every morning and solving problems for potentially millions of people. It also doesn’t hurt that I get to wear Jeans and T-shirt every day.

How can people keep up to date with you online?

Follow me on Twitter @ImBmills

Connect on Linkedin 

Find ThinkBig at

Handprint Selected For Brad Feld’s Fiber House


Brad Feld,Fiber House,Kansas City,Kauffman Foundation,Handprint,StatupWhat do Brad Feld, Kansas City, and Google Fiber have in common?  Well combine them all together and you have the subject of a social experiment that Feld is doing to further the startup community in Kansas City.

Kansas City was the second city in the United States to get 1 gb fiber available to consumers, the first was Chattanooga Tennessee. Unlike Chattanooga though, Kansas City was the first city chosen for Google Fiber, the search giant’s first soiree into the land of internet providers. In Kansas City, and soon to be Austin, Google is running 1gb fiber optic lines for internet which allows ultra fast downloads and uploads. This will also put them in competition with several cable companies in markets where they expand their fiber product.

So how did Brad Feld get involved? The Kauffman Foundation’s Lesa Mitchell spoke at SXSW about how she took a phone call from Brad sometime over the Christmas holidays and he was excited about putting his money where his mouth is. He wanted to buy a house in the Google fiber neighborhood in Kansas City, but he wasn’t going to live there.

Feld teamed with the Kauffman Foundation and Startup America CEO Scott Case, who quickly devised a plan. They ran a contest for startups, where one startup would get to live in the house rent free for one year, and with the Google Fiber internet paid for as well.

Is crazy as this idea seemed at first, it was done before, right in Kansas City. Back in October we reported that Ben Barreth had the idea to buy a house and let hackers live in it rent free, again with Google fiber, to work on their startups. Barreth, who’s just an average guy, leveraged his own personal finances to put together his “Homes For Hackers” project and open up the first house.

Feld credit’s Barreth for inspiring him to do this. The two met at the Thinc Iowa startup event where the idea for the Fiber House was made.

Now, the judging committee, which included Case, has selected Handprint as the first year long occupants of Brad Feld’s Fiber House. Handprint is working on 3D printing and editing technology which Feld said “really captured our imagination”.

Handprint founders; Mike Demarais, Alexa Nguyen, Jack Franzen, and Derek Caneja will move to Kansas City and into the Fiber House where they can continue to develop their startup.

For more check out this story at Startup Revolution.

This was the first house purchased for hackers in Kansas City.

Are you a member of Brad Feld’s alternative to Hacker News, Startup Revolution?

Where’s The Beef? New Kansas Startup AgLocal Will Help You Find It

I’m going to break the code of hipster bloggers by publicly announcing that I am an omnivore there is nothing I enjoy more than a nice big steak complimented by some kind of exotic potato side dish, some asparagus and a beer. Yup that’s me. Sorry vegetarian and vegan bloggers. That’s why I’m really thrilled to hear about a new startup called AgLocal.

I heard some murmur about the startup and it’s founder Naithan Jones who left his job as director of Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundations aspiring entrepreneur FastTrac program to undertake his own startup.

So here’s how this AgLocal works. Farmer’s markets are actually growing. If you’ve been to a farmer’s market in a decent sized community you’ll probably be inundated by fruits, vegetables, locally raised grass fed cattle, a few food trucks and cupcakes. You typically know where the farmer’s markets are or your local Whole Foods, but what if you don’t. AgLocal connects meat sellers to meat buyers.

Now you can order you meat straight from a local farmer and even cut out the grocery store. Jones and his co-founder Jacob McDaniel have been visiting locally owned farms across the midwest and have signed up over 100 farms already. The strategy is to connect local people to local farms.

More after the break
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TutHopper Wins Startup Weekend – Kansas City

Kansas City: TutHopper took the top prize at the Startup Weekend in Kansas City.  Like many (if not all) discussions about startups, the inevitable comparison to either a hot company like Pinterest or Path or even the mighty Facebook, Tuthopper is being compared to the site codecademy.

I usually cringe when I hear a colleague of mine begin a conversation with a startup with “So your app is like blank company but different, right?”  That just starts everything off on the wrong foot (IMO).  In the case of TutHopper, I think it is absolutely fair to make that connection, because it really is very similar in scope and practice to Codecademy the only difference being TutHopper is focused on children.

The TutHopper team was made up of 10 members (2 of whom are women) Carrie Royce, Cindy Fisher, and then Justin Murray, Kyle Webster Adam Arredondo, Coty Beasley, Eze Redwood, DJ Good, Troy Norris and Jon Kors. This team, like all the other participants in the weekend, came together on Friday following  a presentation of the favored pitches.  Then the group of 98 participants split into 13 different groups to put together a product that could at least be marketed as well as have a polished pitch prepared for the judges.  Out of the 13 teams, 12 teams made their pitch at the end of the weekend.  Discussing the idea behind TutHopper and why it is important, Carrie Royce stated,

“Kids have a greater capacity for learning if they’re exposed to concepts early on—reading, math, even foreign language. And in essence, programming is a foreign language—a language that kids are going to need in the future given the increasing role technology plays in our lives,” said Carrie Royce, team member of TutHopper and CMO at Red Nova Labs. “But the education system in the U.S. isn’t taking on that challenge. Computer games are an ideal way to get kids engaged in learning programming outside the school system. If the games are sufficiently fun and challenging, kids will be proactive about signing on and learning at increasingly complex levels.”

Meanwhile fellow team member Adam Arredondo shared how it was behind the scenes for the team,

“Our team was unselfish and hardworking with enough comic relief to keep everyone upbeat,” said Adam Arredondo of the group’s vibe. “It was a huge relief that the judges were able to look past the technical errors during our presentation and see the tremendous potential TutHopper really has.”


The following are prizes for first, second, and third:

  • First place – 3 months of free space at Office Port for up to 5 people. And a booth at the Sprint Innovation Summit where several Sprint execs and investors will be accessible for potential funding and advising.
  • Second place – $1,000 worth legal services
  • Third place – Organizer high-fives, coke and smile.

Coming in second place was Keyzio “Where every house is for sale.” Basically if you find a house that you are interested in purchasing you can take a photo with the GPS coordinates embedded in the meta data in the photo and when you arrive home you are able to send a postcard notifying the currents owners your interest, even if the home is not on the market. And in third place was the Grüple team with yet another option for mobile payments.  Grüple is an app that creates, notifies and provides different groups with simple and quick ways to conduct monetary reimbursements.

Kansas City’s Hallmark Acquires L.A. Startup Spirit Clips


U.S.greeting card giant Hallmark has acquired Los Angeles based video startup SpiritClips.

SpiritClips was founded in 2007 by Academy Award winning producer and studio executive Rob Fried who’s credits include the hit movies “Hoosiers” and “Rudy”.  The company makes heartwarming short films and movies that will compliment Hallmark’s similar offerings and give Hallmark customers access to a variety of video content.

Fried said in a statement:
“It’s a dream come true for SpiritClips to be part of the digital future of so esteemed an organization as Hallmark.”

Hallmark CEO Donald Hall Jr said “It is a superb brand fit for Hallmark, with each story delivering compelling emotional content, positive family values and meaningful life lessons,”

No terms of the deal were announced.

Source: siliconprairie