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Plexpod Westport Commons taps ex-Sprint Accelerator manager John Fein

John Fein, left, led the Sprint Accelerator run by Techstars for three years. He has partnered with Plexpod to provide programming at the Plexpod Westport Commons currently in development.
John Fein, left, led the Sprint Accelerator run by Techstars for three years. He has partnered with Plexpod to provide programming at the Plexpod Westport Commons currently in development. File photo

Firebrand Ventures founder John Fein, who previously ran Techstars’ Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City, will provide programming at the Plexpod Westport Commons co-working space.

Plexpod Westport Commons is expected to open in January. Its ambition is to become a hub for entrepreneurial activity in the Kansas City area. Fein’s role will be to develop workshops, presentations and other programming.

Fein said programs will be aimed at raising capital, hiring, building teams, sales, marketing, product development and other issues at the site and other Plexpod locations.

Firebrand, an investment fund targeting early-stage startups, will be based at the Westport site and will evaluate startups at the co-working space for possible investment.

Plexpod Westport Commons plans to open with 160,000 square feet of space in the former Westport Middle School and is accepting applications for access. It anticipates expansion to 360,000 by adding the former Westport High School. The schools have been purchased by Sustainable Development Partners Kansas City, which is working with Plexpod on the commons project.

The idea behind co-working space is to encourage collaboration among startups, entrepreneurs and others.

“We envision an ecosystem whereby the resources offered are shaped by the entrepreneurial profile,” Plexpod founder and chief executive Gerald Smith said in an announcement of the partnership with Firebrand.

The Kansas City area offers several co-working spaces, including at the Sprint Accelerator and Plexpod’s Lenexa site. Fein said he sees Plexpod Westport Commons becoming the kind of entrepreneurial hub that exists in other cities such as Austin, Texas, and Boulder, Colo., and Chicago.

“That’s part of what’s missing in Kansas City,” Fein said.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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