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.
"They will be exposed to a number of really exciting opportunities to grow their companies," Ehlen said. "There’s going to be a lot of focus on the art of pitching for capital, raising capital, and a lot of focus on leadership development."
Ehlen said Prosper received more than 200 applications from around the world. In the end, three St. Louis-based startups emerged as winners, along with two companies from California and one from New York. They represent a mix of tech, healthcare and consumer product companies.
- Champio---St. Louis-based Champio is a tech platform on which a company’s employees compete to share the best/most relevant social media posts about the business. The winning posts are rewarded. Champio’s platform also analyzes the content to determine which will be the best received and gain the most traction online.
- KiteReader---California-based KiteReader designs, develops and distributes e-books and apps for children ages 3 to 8. They publish titles under the KiteReaders brand, but also design and develop for companies like Disney and Hallmark.
- Wondermento---The St. Louis-based company is building a new way to track your dog's activity and to know what they are up to at all times digitally. Historically, owners have had to track their dog's activities/diet without using technology.
- Bookalokal---The New York-based company has created a marketplace for food entrepreneurs to list their services available for sale (out of their home) and to connect with customers looking for a unique dining experience. Similar to AirBnb, this allows customers to buy a seat at someone’s dinner table.
- HealthyMe---The St. Louis-based company has created a platform design that has five key elements to address non-compliance issues and patients’ lack of resources to effectively manage their disease on a daily basis, the key problems of patients who have chronic disease.
- Smart Monitor---The California-based company has created the product SmartWatch®, developed for people prone to epilepsy and seizure disorders. It’s an intelligent wristwatch that continuously monitors movement.
Prosper Women Entrepreneurs includes both an investment arm, called Prosper Capital, and an non-profit, known as Prosper Institute. Ehlen said the goal is to reach women at any stage of creating or growing a business. (Listen to this story about various efforts to help St. Louis female entrepreneurs, including Prosper.)
Applications for the second 2015 Prosper Accelerator class will open in May with the six winners in September.
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