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Pipeline Fellowship Opens To St. Louis Entrepreneurs

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

"Really, what we’re looking for is more the talent, the founder, the CEO that is showing an ability to build a company of scale, maybe more than one time," Cobb said.

The program takes 10 to 12 fellows a year, who have to commit to taking part in several “modules” or conferences where they can dig into their business and discuss it with their peers and national experts.

Tom Cohen, the CEO of St. Louis-based Nanopore Diagnostics, is a 2014 Pipeline fellow. His company provides on-site molecular diagnostic testing.  He said getting other perspectives on his business has been invaluable.

"The opportunity for me to go to these modules and continually meet and pitch my business and work through it with people outside of St. Louis has really helped me grow a lot as an entrepreneur," Cohen said.

Tom Cohen is CEO of Nanopore Diagnostics
Credit (courtesy Pipeline.)
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Tom Cohen is CEO of Nanopore Diagnostics, a molecular diagnostics company based in St. Louis, and a Pipeline 2014 fellow.

A researcher at Washington University’s medical school, Cohen's business also won an Arch Grant this year.

Cobb said almost all of the entrepreneurs who come into the program have leveraged opportunities in their own communities. She said Pipeline is meant to serve as the next step to connect entrepreneurs with peer and national experts. The goal is to turn the Midwest into an "entrepreneurial powerhouse."

"It’s much beyond just measuring how many jobs Tom creates over the next five years," Cobb said. "It’s about what does this do to change connectivity and momentum of entire entrepreneurial region."

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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