St. Louis startups | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis startups

Nvsted

Ask any entrepreneur to name the hardest part of launching a business, and the answer, inevitably, will be, "money." Some of the greatest startup ideas fizzle for lack of funding.

Nvsted, (pronounced: invested), a hyper-local crowdfunding site, aims to make it easier for St. Louis entrepreneurs to find investors, and vice versa. The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership launched the online platform Wednesday at the Helix Center, a startup accelerator located in the 39 North Plant Science District in Creve Coeur.

SixThirty Logo
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.

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial could change to the Gateway Arch National Park by July 2018.
(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.

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