Tech seems to be bubbling up all over Wichita, including the rapid expansion of a local online content company.
SNT, which arrived in Wichita from California about nine months ago, is located on the 10th floor of the High Touch building downtown. It has 65 employees packed into a sleek, modern, high-tech office, complete with subdued lighting, catered lunches, a gaming room and a room filled with giant bean bags for resting.
Stuart Bruck, executive chairman and founder of SNT, and Kevin Owens, CEO and founder, have both moved to Wichita from California.
SNT is developing a platform that carries a vast amount of financial, sports and real estate content aggregated from 27,000 data sources and wrapped into a nice package.
The content is designed to be accessed a variety of ways, including a teaser box appearing on the right side of media websites — such as those belonging to newspapers — along with a block of ads that it sells.
If a user clicks through on the teaser, they come to a deep well of stock charts, basketball player profiles, and much, much more compiled and shaped by an artificial intelligence program. SNT splits the ad revenue with the hosting site if they are partners.
Go to www.sntmedia.com to get a taste.
Many community leaders see it as strong addition to what could be a coalescing tech industry in Wichita.
In addition to a number of existing tech companies, other pieces of that economy include Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus, which connects technically advanced companies such as NetApp with university students and faculty; the soon-to-launch accelerator/incubator in downtown Wichita; makerspaces, where people can build their ideas; and the Million Cups networking event that kicks off next month.
Tonya Witherspoon was executive director of Ennovar, a 1-year-old arm of WSU created to bring students and faculty together with tech companies, when it started working with SNT. This month she joined SNT as chief marketing officer, although she will still have a strategy role for Ennovar.
A native Wichitan, Witherspoon has spent a career in tech in Wichita. She taught technology at WSU and for rural Kansas school districts for years, and later worked at LSI and then NetApp.
She said she made the jump from Ennovar to SNT in part because of her belief that the company could have a critical impact on Wichita’s future.
“My piece here is my passion: to bring high-tech to Wichita,” Witherspoon said. “If this company can make it, others will come.”
The company is now remodeling the fourth and fifth floors of the High Touch building for expansion, in anticipation of bringing over another 35 positions.
On the fourth floor the company is building a meeting space called the Heartland Technology Center, where national technology companies can host seminars or training for locals. SNT won’t manage the space, but it will partner with others.
“We’re trying to drive the tech culture and the tech biz,” she said.
Bob Litan, an attorney in Wichita with a long history studying economic development, said that SNT is the kind of company that could move the needle on tech development in Wichita.
“It could be a game changer in Wichita,” he said, “because when companies grow that rapidly they are like large apple trees where apples start falling from the tree, employees start leaving to start their own companies.”