Two new companies in St. Joseph, Missouri, received project funding thanks to the recent partnership between Innovation Stockyard and Digital Sandbox KC.

“Our partnership with Digital Sandbox KC has given us an opportunity to capture the full range of innovative concepts being developed in the St. Joseph area,” said Ronan Molloy, president of Innovation Stockyard.

The Sandbox partnered with the Innovation Stockyard in 2017, along with the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, the City of St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri Western State University and other local organizations, to drive new business growth and jobs in St. Joseph and throughout northwest Missouri.

“When we launched Digital Sandbox KC in 2013, we hoped to find 10 high-growth potential companies,” said Jeff Shackelford, director of Digital Sandbox KC. “Now with more than 100 projects funded and more than $50 million raised in follow-on funding, we’ve proven by supporting early-stage ideas in Kansas City and surrounding local communities like Olathe, St. Joseph and Independence we can drive new business starts and help create new jobs.”

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.


The companies selected for support include:

Carroll’s Irish Bitters is a St. Joseph-based startup making handcrafted small-batch bitters. In addition to timeless favorites, co-founders Brian Carroll and Christina Hitch are developing new bitters recipes and formulas for bartenders across the region.

“We greatly appreciate the support from St. Joseph and the Sandbox,” said Carroll. “This unbelievable opportunity will help us get our bitters to market and the company ready to scale sooner than we originally anticipated.”

Grant Company is an entrepreneurial communications and marketing company based in St. Joseph. Established in 2017, Grant Company offers a unique marketing and advertising model for agribusiness clientele in the KC Animal Health Corridor and across North America and Europe.

“Funding from the Sandbox gives us an opportunity to expand our internship program with universities across northwest Missouri, helping us to help students in their professional development and identify top talent to ensure the continued growth of our company,” said Eric Grant, managing director of Grant Company LLC.

Carroll’s Irish Bitters and Grant Company received funding from the Sandbox partnership with the Innovation Stockyard in St. Joseph. In addition to up to $15,000 in project development funds, Innovation Stockyard, located inside the Kit Bond Incubator in St. Joseph, will offer the two startups coworking space for three to six months.

“We’re proud to work together with our existing business resources and in partnership with the Sandbox to help these early-stage companies grow and create new jobs in St. Joseph and Northwest Missouri,” said R. Patt Lilly, president and CEO of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.

Launched in February 2013, Digital Sandbox KC has worked with more than 500 entrepreneurs and early-stage companies across the region.

Based on February 2018 impact surveys, results for Digital Sandbox KC so far include:

  •             more than $1.9 million in project funding
  •             108 proof-of-concept projects funded
  •             more than 580 new jobs created with more than $14 million in payroll
  •             $50.8 million in follow-on funding

To date, five businesses have received project funding through the Sandbox program in St. Joseph. Funded by a grant to the Innovation Stockyard from the Missouri Technology Corporation and matching funds from local organizations, the partnership brings the Digital Sandbox KC program to St. Joseph, targeting early-stage entrepreneurs in northwest Missouri who have concepts that can rapidly grow a business into a significant employer. Visit to submit an idea and learn more about Digital Sandbox KC.


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

Innovation Stockyard, located in the Christopher S. “Kit” Bond Incubator on the campus of Missouri Western State University, is a one-stop business incubator for those who want to start or grow any business, but specializing in the animal sciences field. It offers business and scientific consulting—and facilities—to help bring new ideas to market.