St. Louis startups | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis startups

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SixThirty

The Chinese investor Fosun Group announced the investment in the financial tech company BondIT on Friday.

BondIT, based in Israel, has created a digital product to help investors in the bond market. The company took part in the St. Louis-based seed investor and accelerator SixThirty last year.

SixThirty Managing Partner Atul Kamra said it’s the latest company to attract follow-on funding.

AT&T employees and T-REX members put together server stacks for the AT&T Open Source Lab at T-REX.
Photo provided | BJ Kraiberg | T-REX

AT&T is reaching out to St. Louis’ tech startup community with a new Open Source Lab.

The company is providing about $70,000 worth of servers, technology services and funding to create the lab, which will be located at the tech incubator T-REX in downtown St. Louis.

Jomo Castro, AT&T's regional director of external affairs, said it will allow for collaboration between startups, researchers and corporations.

SixThirty Cyber Logo
SixThirty

A St. Louis accelerator is partnering with the South Korean government to bring cyber security startups.

SixThirty CYBER is bringing five South Korean startups to St. Louis early next month to help further develop their technologies and introduce them to those in the cyber security field. The accelerator invests $250,000 annually into cyber security startups and provides mentoring and networking opportunities.

Jay De Long, general partner, said this program is unique; instead of investing in the companies, the accelerator is working with the government of South Korea.

Emily Lohse-Busch received her M.B.A. from DePaul University and launched a strategic communications business in Chicago.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The new executive director of an initiative designed to attract startups to the St. Louis area brings a mix of national and local experiences to the position.

Emily Lohse-Busch recently took the helm of Arch Grants after serving as a senior director with Global Impact, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that supports international nonprofit groups. She also worked for a consulting firm in Chicago, specializing in dealing with the nonprofit sector. 

Laura Callanan is a founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, an impact investing team taht seeks to connect artists, social entrepreneurs and funding schemes.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you’ve spent any time around the startup space, you know that connecting entrepreneurs with funding is an essential part of the mix for a new company to be successful. You’ll also know that “creativity” is a buzzword entrepreneurs love to throw around.

But what about the initial creatives: artists? Laura Callanan is the founding partner of Upstart Co-Lab, an impact investing and business development team that seeks to connect artists with social entrepreneurs and funding mechanisms.  

Natalie Clay, a program coordinator at Bio STL, is managing a new collaborative focused on making the local startup community more inclusive to women and people of color.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio

Even though St. Louis’ tech startup scene is growing, it is not always the most inclusive environment for women and people of color. A group of 12 local nonprofits and government organizations want to change that. 

It's called the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective. Members range from the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership to Arch Grants. Their goal is to help ensure women and men of color have equal access to everything an entrepreneur needs, from capital to business support services.  

Startup Connection | provided

The St. Louis region will celebrate its entrepreneurial community Wednesday evening with Startup Connection.

The event will bring together more than 70 startups, along with investors, sponsoring companies, entrepreneur support organizations and community members. The startups will each give a 60 second elevator pitch as they compete for $250,000 in cash and prizes.

Startup Connection’s managing director Phyllis Ellison said the event highlights what’s happening among the region’s startups.

Abby Cohen is a co-founder of Sparo Labs. She will be on the trip to Boston with other St. Louis startup leaders.
(Photo courtesy of Sparo Labs)

Members of the startup community in St. Louis are trying to strengthen links to Boston. A group of about 20 startup leaders will leave Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Tuesday evening for two days of meetings in Massachusetts.

SixThirty Cyber Logo
SixThirty

A new St. Louis-based initiative might produce the next big advancement in the war against hackers and data thieves. SixThirty Cyber is an offshoot of financial technology venture fund and business accelerator SixThirty, which is housed in the T-Rex co-working space downtown.

Plant Science Innovation District
(Courtesy St. Louis Economic Development Partnership)

St. Louis is attracting more life science companies and startups.

Now planning is underway for a 575-acre innovation district that will be anchored by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park, and Helix Center Biotech Incubator.

Gateway ARch Sunshine
(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

A long-time, St. Louis-based corporation and a local startup accelerator are teaming up.

Maritz and Capital Innovators announced Monday that they will co-lease space in the innovation district Cortex as part of a four-year partnership.

Cue the theme music from The Odd Couple.

Maritz is a 125-year-old sales and marketing services company, while Capital Innovators is a tech accelerator founded in 2010. Officials with each organization said they’ll gain from the other’s knowledge and exchange best practices.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Saint Louis University’s Shared Use Kitchen is helping food entrepreneurs take a crack at starting their own businesses.

Housed in the basement of the Salus Center, the 6,000 square foot kitchen is used by culinary students and staffers who make breakfast and lunch for six area schools. The university in 2011 opened the kitchen to people looking to start a food-based business.

(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

They weren’t fastballs, but there was a lot of pitching at Busch Stadium on Thursday.

The founders of four sports startups threw their best stuff at investors gathered inside the ballpark. It was Stadia Ventures first demo day.

The St. Louis-based accelerator offers 10-week mentorship for sports entrepreneurs and investments of up to $100,000. Co-founder Art Chou said it’s the right city for the sports innovation hub.

(Illustration by Susannah Lohr, St. Louis Public Radio)

In May of last year, BioGenerator officials crunched the numbers and realized about a  dozen companies in their portfolio would need to raise $60 to $90 million in order to keep growing.

BioGenerator, which formed in 2003, is a sort of incubator for biotech companies in St. Louis, providing early stage funding and support for 65 companies to date.

(courtesy Cortex/Chris Cross)

A little more West Coast is moving into St. Louis.

The music streaming company Pandora opened an office inside Cortex, St. Louis’ innovation district, on Monday.

"Pandora came looking for us," said Dougan Sherwood, co-founder and managing director of CIC St. Louis, which is housed in the @4240 building.

Sherwood said officials with Pandora, which is based in Oakland, Calif., wanted to replicate the culture they have at their headquarters.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.)

The Ag Innovation Showcase began on Monday at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. In its seventh year, the three-day event includes panel discussions on trends in agriculture and technology and gives startups a chance to find investors and partners. 

This year, 19 early stage companies will present to possible investors. Those companies are focused on precision agriculture, renewables and sustainables, biological solutions and farming innovations.

(courtesy of Roberto Garcia)

The entrepreneurs in this summer’s Arch Grants recipients group come from a wide range of backgrounds.

(You can see the list of 11 grant winners here.)

Since its launch in 2012 the not-for-profit organization has given equity-free grants of $50,000 to 66 startups, for a total of more $3.65 million. Executive Director Ginger Imster said this class is among the most diverse. She said nine of the 11 startups are minority or women-led.

Eleven businesses have been named recipients in the latest round of the Arch Grants Global Startup Competition.

The $50,000 grants are equity-free. The entrepreneurs will also receive support services from Arch Grants and its donors.

Executive Director Ginger Imster said this round includes a mix of tech, consumer products and even manufacturing.

"That is so essential to our regional economy," she said. "We want to always be seeding a diversified regional economy."

Of the 11 startups, Imster said 80 percent are minority or women-led: 

Mary Jo Gorman, lead managing partner of Prosper Capital (left) and Cindy Teasdale McGowan (right), founder of Makaboo Personalized Gifts and a lead mentor with Prosper.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has hosted a healthy, burgeoning startup community for some years and the strong showing of small tech businesses has drawn particular attention, leading some to call St. Louis the “next Silicon Valley.” With a healthy network in place to support new companies, community leaders and entrepreneurs are now working to increase diversity within St. Louis’ startup culture.

Missouri Technology Corporation, startups
(Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio)

Governor Jay Nixon is thanking state lawmakers... at least for the funds they appropriated for the Missouri Technology Corporation.

The Democrat was in St. Louis Wednesday touting the nearly $16 million the Republican-controlled legislature included for MTC in the budget passed last week. MTC provides early-stage capital to both entrepreneurs and startups.

"When MTC gives an investment everyone knows that it’s smart and effective, and the legislature going along with us to make more resources available is important," Nixon said.

Atul Kamra, SixThirty
SixThirty

The new managing partner of St. Louis-based financial technology business accelerator SixThirty is bringing plenty of experience to the job.

AOL's Steve Case at LockerDome's Lockerdorms
LockerDome.com|Gabe Lozano

As the Midwest economy continues to shift from a traditional manufacturing base, the spaces that many area workers and employers spend their days — and nights — in are also evolving. Research suggests more and more workers are shifting to non-traditional offices, ranging from pet-filled apartments to shared spaces, complete with bunk beds and craft beer.

(Flicker, Jim Fenton)

CTY is a technology company that formed in St. Louis just last year.

But the startup nabbed a $35,000 Prototype Fund grant from the Knight Foundation and will test its first product in a project with the city.

The product, called Numina, collects real-time data using optical sensors. This summer those sensors will count pedestrians and bicyclists and send that information to the St. Louis Department of Health.

CEO Tara Pham said the city’s willingness to work with a startup and use new technology is important.

May to March Bootcamp, Youth CITIES, Venture Cafe
(courtesy Youth CITIES)

All they need is a business idea ... and youth.

A new 10-week entrepreneurial bootcamp aimed at sixth through 12th graders will soon begin at Venture Café.

The goal of the March to May Bootcamp is to help students start their own businesses, but also give them the tools to succeed in whatever path they choose.

Joe McDonald (back left) came up with the idea for a fitness app that measures power use. He and his team are hammering out their presentation for the company tentatively called Watt Runner.
Camille Phillips | St.Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:05 a.m. Monday February 9, 2015 to include competition results.  

On Friday, St. Louis held it's first bio-health Startup Weekend. For 54 hours, eight teams worked to build a health-related business from the ground up.

Cities around the country and the globe have held Startup Weekends. St. Louis had its first Startup Weekend in 2012.

NathanReed / Flickr

Cheap living, a network of startup incubators and a couple of hometown success stories have raised St. Louis’ profile among investors looking to get in early on the next big thing.

Though much of the focus has been on financial services, the life sciences and agriculture, momentum is building in another field -- education. And even though plans are still being drawn up, an effort is underway to harness local startup energy toward improving classroom success.

At the same time, questions linger about what education should look like in the digital age.

LockerDome

The startup scene in St. Louis is grabbing more national attention as the calendar year begins.

(courtesy Prosper Women Entrepreneurs)

Six women-led companies have won $50,000 dollar investments from the St. Louis-based organization Prosper Women Entrepreneurs.

This is the first group of the Prosper Startup Accelerator, which includes a 3-month intensive program. Founder Jennifer Ehlen said the entrepreneurs will spend two days each week at T-REX, a downtown St. Louis co-working space and incubator, meeting with mentors and business experts.

Greetabl, St. Louis startups, gift ideas
(courtesy greetable)

The clock is ticking on the holiday shopping season.

If you’ve still got a few people on your list, here are some unique items from young companies right here in St. Louis.

Greetabl produces colorful gift boxes that allow you to write a message, put in a small gift and either mail it or give it in person. The company, launched just last year, is among this year’s Arch Grants recipients.

(courtesy Startup Connection)

The St. Louis entrepreneurial community will be on display at this year's Startup Connection at Saint Louis University on Wednesday.

The business competition and resource fair will highlight 70 startups through its venture showcase, including a session where the entrepreneurs will give elevator pitches to compete for funding.

Nineteen of the startups are vying for three Startup Challenge Awards worth a total of  $100,000. The other 51 ventures will be competing for smaller awards.

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