St. Louis startups

(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

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|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.


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.

(Flickr/Tanya Monro)

As of the last U.S. Census, only 28 percent of the workforce in science and engineering was female.

The Women in Science & Entrepreneurship Conference is addressing that disparity. It aims to help women in the sciences find the right career path and go further. WISE, as the conference is being called, will take place Friday in St. Louis. The event is sold out.

St. Louis Public Radio

The organization that focuses on promoting the St. Louis region's bio-science industries is reaching beyond the country's borders to accomplish its mission.

BioSTL launched the St. Louis-Israel Innovation Connection Friday with the aim of attracting Israeli bioscience starts to branch out into St. Louis.

Israel is second only to Silicon Valley when it comes to creating startups.

With many of those companies looking to expand into the U.S., St. Louis can be their destination, said BioSTL CEO and president Donn Rubin.

Joni Cobb, CEO and president of the Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship.
(courtesy Pipeline)

The Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship is now open to all St. Louis entrepreneurs.

The program works like a support group for entrepreneurs in the Midwest. It began in Kansas in 2006 and then expanded to Nebraska and Kansas City.

Until now, only those affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis could apply to take part in the year-long fellowship.

Pipeline president and CEO Joni Cobb said they’re looking for leaders who are likely to grow a company.

(Maria Altman/St. Louis Public Radio)

Cambridge Innovation Center’s first site outside Massachusetts is officially open.

CIC@4240 is located in St. Louis’ innovation district, Cortex, and provides flexible working space for startups and emerging businesses.

The company has 32,000 square feet in the @4240 building on Duncan Avenue and is expected to eventually house up to 75 companies.

(courtesy Startup Voodoo)

It’s got a funny name, but a serious purpose.

Startup Voodoo, a one-day conference at Ballpark Village Thursday, is an attempt to help Midwestern entrepreneurs capture that indefinable something that’s helped so many startups become successful, said conference co-founder Aaron Perlut.