MindMixer has plans to almost triple its existing workforce, but the online civic engagement platform will be growing in Kansas City, Mo., instead of Omaha.
The company plans to relocate nearly all of its operations to Kansas City by the end of the summer.
MindMixer established an office in the Mastercraft building north of downtown Omaha in 2011 and a Kansas City office followed about six months later.
MindMixer was formed as a type of virtual town hall to give local governments and organizations a way to engage with citizens and constituents through the Internet.
More than half of the company’s 48 employees are already working in Kansas City, company officials said, and the talent pool offered by a metropolitan area more than twice the size of Omaha is too deep to ignore.
“It’s bittersweet for everyone,” co-founder Nick Bowden told the Silicon Prairie News. “(Co-founder) Nathan (Preheim) and I grew up in Omaha, we started in Omaha, but it’s our responsibility to put the business in the best place to be successful. Omaha’s great ... but as we grow exponentially, we want to grow together and Kansas City made the most sense.”
Bowden told The World-Herald that about 20 employees from Omaha and Lincoln will join 28 employees in MindMixer’s 7,500 square-foot office in the Crossroads area of Kansas City. Most are moving, while a few others will work remotely or find new opportunities.
MindMixer looks to hire 85 software, programming and IT employees in Kansas City in addition to its current workforce. The company has already begun hiring for new positions to continue rapid growth that has characterized the four-year-old company in recent months.
“Just three years ago, it was just two of us,” said Bowen, who formed the company on the side with fellow Omahan Preheim in 2010 when both were working on other projects.
MindMixer has more than doubled its employee base from 20 to almost 50 employees in the last six months. In the last three months, its roster of clients has grown from about 500 to more than 700 today.
Bowden said they’ll likely stay at the Crossroads office for at least six months before looking for something a bit bigger in the same area.
MindMixer also looked at moving to Silicon Valley.
Ryan Weber of KCNext, a non-profit group devoted to grow and promote the tech center in the region, said the Kansas City choice is a win for the region.
“It’s a good story for the Midwest,” Weber said. “The founders see the value of being here, and that’s important because they could’ve moved out west, but didnt.” “For a tech company to bring that amount of people and hire 85 more, that’s a great fit for KC.”
Bob Marcusse, president and CEO, Kansas City Area Development Council, agreed. “Mindmixer adds tremendous value to our entire metro area.”
The move is undoubtedly a huge loss for Omaha’s startup scene, says Dusty Reynolds, director of innovation and entrepreneurship at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
He thinks MindMixer could have been just as successful hiring programmers in Omaha, pointing to federal data showing that both metros have comparable portions of residents with computer science degrees.
Even so, the Kansas City metro still has more than twice the population of Omaha. And with a broader tax base comes more economic development resources
The Kansas City Area Development Council partnered with a number of regional organizations to attract MindMixer to Kansas City including the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri; City of Kansas City, Missouri; The Missouri Partnership; State of Missouri – Office of Governor Jay Nixon; Missouri Department of Economic Development; KCP&L; Missouri Gas Energy; Metropolitan Community College ; Jackson County,Mo., Waterford Properties and KCnext – The Tech Council of Greater Kansas City.
World-Herald staff writer Cole Epley contributed to this report.