Wed June 12, 2013
Update: Investments In St. Louis Tech Startups Nearly Doubled In 2012
Updated 6/13 4:56 with news of entrepreneur fund.
Business leaders and St. Louis City and County officials met today (Thursday) to announce a new effort to support entrepreneurs in the area.
The goal is to raise $100 million over the next five years.
The announcement comes on the tail of a recent report that found last year was a record-breaking year for St. Louis tech startups, which brought in $30 million dollars in investments.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said the $100 million goal is bold, but doable.
"I believe it can be done, and I believe it's in our best interest to get it done," Dooley said.
Dooley told the crowd that the city and county have to have a closer relationship for the region to thrive.
"Working together, we can make a great difference in the metropolitan area," Dooley said. "It takes all of us to make this thing happen. One entity cannot do it all by themselves, it's going to take all of us to make this successful."
Last year was a record-breaking year for St. Louis tech startups, according to a new report made public Wednesday morning.
St. Louis’s Information Technology Entrepreneur Network found that the total amount of money invested in tech startups in the area nearly doubled from 2011 to 2012, bringing the total invested to more than $70 million.
The Executive Director of the nonprofit network, Jim Brasunas, said it’s very encouraging, but that it's also a call to action to invest in keeping jobs and talent in the area.
“We’ve got to jump on that bandwagon or be left behind," he said. "I hate to put it in such stark terms, but really embracing that is going to enable us to move forward.”
Brasunas said the growth the St. Louis area has seen could lead to a scarcity of available talent, which he said is just as challenging as a scarcity of capital.
The report also found that the vast majority of ITEN tech founders in St. Louis are from the area, with more than 80 percent from Missouri and 5 percent from Illinois.
But the report also detailed a lack of diversity. Among the findings was that 79 percent of tech founders in the St. Louis region are male, and 82 percent are Caucasian.
Brasunas said it's a problem, but not one that's unique to St. Louis.
“We’ve got a problem in our country in that area, and it’s reflected in our demographics," Brasunas said. "If you go to any kind of a technology company and walk around, I think in most cases you’ll see that there are more men working there than women.”
You can read the entire report here.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel