A Jayhawk thrives on the Silicon Prairie

Matthew Marcus graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and took a job with Sprint. Eventually, though, he bought a one-way ticket to Australia, where he ended up working for a large financial services company. Later, he spent time in Canada, in the same industry.

Now he has brought that global perspective back home to Kansas City.

“My degree has helped me get jobs no matter where I am in the world,” Marcus says.

After working abroad, Marcus found his way to Boulder, Colo., where he co-founded Kula Causes, a company dedicated to improving corporate-sponsored philanthropy. It was a natural transition for Marcus. He was in elementary school when his mother ventured out on her own as an interior designer. That inspired his goal to start his own company some day.

“It’s just inside you,” Marcus says. “You just want to build things, make things, accomplish things.”

Marcus returned to Kansas City to become part of the Silicon Prairie. This nascent technology corridor — nicknamed in homage to California’s famous Silicon Valley — also includes Omaha and Des Moines. However, Google Fiber gave Kansas City an extra advantage in the form of its one-gigabit-per-second Internet service.

Since Google Fiber’s rollout, entrepreneurs have flocked to communities like the Kansas City Startup Village to take advantage of blazing fast Internet speeds. Marcus, a co-leader of the startup village, says these next-generation technorati use the space to collaborate on the latest tools, apps, and consumer services

“It’s an electric, exciting time to be in Kansas City,” Marcus says. “I feel blessed to be a part of it. You have to have involvement across all sectors for a start-up community. Government, corporations, nonprofits, financial institutions, and entrepreneurs — all of those in Kansas City are in complete alignment.”

Now, with his companies — Local Ruckus and Hoopla.io — gaining traction, Marcus also gives back to KU. He regularly speaks to classes in the School of Business and councils the next generation of Jayhawk entrepreneurs on the challenges and rewards of starting their own business. He brings the students to the startup village for tours, answers their questions, and tries to give them the best possible footing for success.

“KU gave me so much,” Marcus says. “It gave me an awesome degree. It allowed me to go around the world, essentially, and work and live, and so it’s important for me to give back to the university.”

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