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Grind + Growth Equals Much Needed Resources For St. Louis-Area Entrepreneurs

Grind + Growth operates a coworking space in Tower Grove Heights. All spaces are currently leased as more people turn to entrepreneurship during the pandemic.
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Grind + Growth
Grind + Growth operates a coworking space in Tower Grove Heights. All spaces are currently leased as more people turn to entrepreneurship during the pandemic.

The pandemic appears to be increasing interest in entrepreneurship and starting small businesses.

That’s the assessment of the founder and CEO of St. Louis nonprofit Grind + Growth, which focuses on helping early-stage businesses in underserved communities.

“Entrepreneurship, I think, is more on the rise due to the pandemic, where people realize they do need more than one stream of income,” said Valerie Liddell, who launched the nonprofit after finding it difficult to obtain resources when she was an aspiring entrepreneur in 2015.

“The challenge was things I really couldn’t afford,” she said.

That experience prompted Liddell to come up with a way to help entrepreneurs who might be strapped for money as they are getting their ideas off the ground.

A recently launched 10-week virtual course focusing on entrepreneurship growth is one way Liddell is helping others gain knowledge about what it really takes to launch a business.

Grind + Growth Founder Valerie Lindell says an upcoming pitch competition will give entrepreneurs much-needed experience in making a strong first impression on potential business investors.
Grind + Growth Founder Valerie Liddell says an upcoming pitch competition will give entrepreneurs experience in making a strong first impression on potential business investors.

“We teach them the ins and outs of it — the hardships of entrepreneurship, the risks that you’ll take,” she said.

The program has roughly 20 participants who will take part in a pitch competition, where they could secure funding to help their business ideas become reality.

“It will give them a dose of reality when they go out and pitch their business idea to potential investors or to a bank,” Liddell said.

She added that most people get 30 seconds or less to make a pitch.

Even as the region remains in the grips of the pandemic, Liddell is seeing positive signs for entrepreneurship in the area.

Grind + Growth’s coworking space in south St. Louis is fully leased as more people try to control their own employment situations.

But Liddell wants everybody to have a full picture of what they are getting into.

“Entrepreneurship is not glitz and glam. It’s tough. It’s a really tough road," Liddell said. "And it takes a lot of true commitment and dedication.”

Even with the challenges, there are national numbers showing more people are indeed interested in entrepreneurship. A Wall Street Journal analysis from last fall suggests small businesses are being launched throughout the U.S. at the fastest pace in more than 10 years.

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