Arch Grants is not only a source of funding for start-ups, but an opportunity to root business within a thriving entrepreneurial hub surrounded by mentors, supporters, and innovative collaborators. Arch Grants recipients receive $50,000 and a host of support services to grow their business. Our startups are seen as the top notch, early-stage, most scalable and innovative companies in the region.
Arch Grants seeks to fund start-ups that can enhance the economic development, but also the overall entrepreneurial vibrancy of the St. Louis community. The Arch Grants competition attracts and retains entrepreneurs world-wide to locate in St. Louis and believes the enhancement in the entrepreneurial culture provides immeasurable equity. Thus, Arch Grants, as a non-profit and St. Louis community ambassador, does not take an equity stake in the companies in which they award investments. In addition to monetary investments, Arch Grants provides a host of support services and access to top business minds, all free to the Recipient.
No, Arch Grants are truly grants. No equity stake is taken in the companies receiving our grants.
Arch Grants Recipients have five primary obligations to which they must agree in order to receive the grant:
• Locate or relocate the business, with significant operations or headquarters, to the St. Louis region, for at least one year, beginning during date expressed in the program agreement.
• Commit at least one full-time founder to the St. Louis region for the year-long incubation.
• Provide requested documentation of the use of grant funding on a quarterly basis.
• Dedicate one day (approximately 10 hours) of service to Arch Grants per quarter, during the year-long incubation, in advancement of the Arch Grants mission.
• Provide Arch Grants with data regarding jobs created, revenue generated, and follow-on capital attracted. We will collect this information quarterly as long as the business is in operation, regardless if it remains in St. Louis.
Arch Grants has funded 55 companies at the very earliest stages of development over the last three years. 50 of these companies are still in operation, with 49 of those still choosing to maintain operations in St. Louis. Of the five companies that are no longer in business, two of those founders went on to start their second companies in St. Louis! Collectively, Arch Grants Recipients have created over 220 jobs, generated over $13 million in revenue, and attracted over $40 million in follow-on capital.
Arch Grants’ mission is to create and sustain an entrepreneurial culture and infrastructure in order to build successful companies in the St. Louis region. Arch Grants accelerates economic development and community revitalization through entrepreneurship and philanthropy. This program is an aggressive effort to inspire the next generation of employers, civic leaders, and philanthropists for St. Louis.
Arch Grants has no source of sustained funding or recurring revenue. As a result, we rely on the generosity of numerous individuals, corporations, and foundations to to fund both competition grants and operations. Our donors are available to view here.
Arch Grants is located inside the historic Lammert building, better known as T-REX, at 911 Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. T-REX is a mix between a co-working space and technology incubator located in the heart of downtown St. Louis, Missouri. T-REX is now home to a growing community of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, mentors, venture capitalists, educators, and more.
St. Louis is in transition. We are a community working to resolve significant issues that in the future will ensure inclusion and social justice for all our citizens regardless of race and zip code. We seek applicants who embrace the opportunity to help shape a more equitable and inclusive future for St. Louis. Our region is proud to support a number of organizations that are actively working to shape policy to create the systemic change we need. The following organizations are wholly committed to addressing issues of equity and justice in St. Louis:
– Anti-Defamation League
– Crime Victim’s Advocacy Center
– Diversity Awareness Partnership
– Ferguson Commission
– FOCUS St. Louis
– National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis
– St. Louis Economic Development Partnership
Nationally reported statistics regarding crime in the metropolitan St. Louis region can be misleading because of how the region is divided between 15 counties in Missouri and Southern IL. Additionally, there is a divide between St. Louis City and St. Louis County which are governed and patrolled independently of one another. This fragmentation results in statistics that are equally as fragmented. Arch Grants’ offices are located in the 4th District of the City of St. Louis. Chief of Police Sam Dotson, Mayor Francis Slay, and Captain Dan Howard and his team in the 4th District are wholly committed to ensuring the safety of downtown St. Louis where many Arch Grant recipients choose to live, work, and play. Additionally, DowntownSTL provides complimentary escorts to and from one’s car if requested. For the most current crime statistics by neighborhood in the City of St. Louis, please click here.
If you would like to speak to someone about his or her personal experience moving to St. Louis, please email Ben Burke at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to connect you to someone within our community who can answer specific questions you have about our region.
Competition and Format
Beginning in January 2015, Arch Grants will begin accepting applications on a rolling basis. Early deadlines and final deadlines are listed on our website. While specifics depend on the time of year and when the application is received, applicants can expect to hear from staff regarding their application status within two months of their entry.
Spring 2015 Competition:
Applications Open: January 1st, 2015 at 12:00 AM
Early Application Deadline: February 28th, 2015 at 11:59 PM
Final Application Deadline: March 31st, 2015 at 11:59 PM
Finalist Pitch Days: March 5th, April 2nd, and May 7th, 2015
First Day of Incubation: June 18th, 2015
Fall 2015 Competition:
Applications Open: April 1st, 2015 at 12:00 AM
Early Application Deadline: July 10th, 2015 at 11:59 PM
Final Application Deadline: August 30th, 2015 at 11:59 PM
Finalist Pitch Days: June 18th, August 13th, and October 1st, 2015
First Day of Incubation: November 12th, 2015
There are two rounds of evaluation for the Arch Grants competition.
First, your application is assigned to 3-5 community judges who are hand-picked by the Arch Grants staff based on industry experience, expertise in the stage of your company, or other relevant qualities.
Next, the application and feedback from these judges is reviewed by the Arch Grants Competition Committee who select a group of finalist applicants to receive due diligence and are invited to pitch their business at the finalist pitch day. The Competition Committee is a group of dedicated community members who represent a diverse range of experiences from venture capital, corporate start-up entrepreneurs, and everything in between. The committee will base their decisions on the strength of the opportunity, scalability, the impact on the St. Louis community (economically, culturally, and otherwise) as well as the skills, assets, and value added by the management team.
Finally, teams will be invited to pitch their business to the committee at a Finalist Pitch Day (there will be three Finalist Pitch Days per competition, so six per year). These presentations will take place periodically throughout the year and will also include an opportunity for Q&A. Arch Grants Recipients will be announced soon after the final pitch day and funding disbursements will be delivered in either the spring or fall depending on the time of year of your competition.
There are only two rounds of the Arch Grants Global Startup Competition. The first round requires the PitchBurner application, management team biographies, an executive summary, and a pitch deck. The final round requires a video submission and a business plan, in addition to pitching live in St. Louis, Missouri at a finalist pitch day.
A comprehensive list of all judges will be released as it becomes available.
We anticipate having roughly 60 startups reach the final round of the competition in 2015. We also aim to disburse roughly 20, $50,000 grants in 2015. A Finalist to Recipient ratio of 3/1 is out goal!
The Arch Grants Global Startup Competition has undergone the following changes:
• Website will begin accepting applications January 1st, 2015.
• We have moved from an annual competition to a semi-annual competition, with a Spring competition and a Fall competition.
• After January 1st, 2015, applications will remain open year-round.
• “Finalist Weekend” has been replaced with six, internal “Finalist Pitch Days,” occurring periodically through
• Grant recipients will be announced in the spring and fall at a yet to be determined public facing events to encourage regional recognition of grant recipients.
Arch Grants moved from an annual competition to a semi-annual competition in 2015. We will still aim to provide 20, $50,000 grants over the course of the year, with roughly half dispersed in the Spring and roughly half dispersed in the Fall. This change was made based on extensive feedback from entrepreneurs. With this format, entrepreneurs will now receive feedback on their application much faster, and be able to apply for a grant twice per year instead of just once. Things move very fast in a startup, and Arch Grants is keeping pace with this dynamic competition format.
Rolling applications means that once our competition is open, it does not close. We will be accepting applications for grants year-round. Depending on what time of the year an applicant applies, that application is placed in either the Spring competition or the Fall competition. Applicants that apply to one competition but do not receive a grant can “roll over” their application, make the necessary changes based on feedback, and easily apply again in the following competition. All of this is done within the platform, PitchBurner, where we will be hosting the competition.
Applying before the early application deadline allows for judges to spend more time with the application and the applicant team. Applying early also provides the valuable opportunity to elaborate on any advancements made on your proposal between the initial application and future interviews and pitches. For example, if the team raises additional capital, advances technology, or otherwise grows as an organization, the extra time provides evidence of progress, which may not be demonstrated in a shorter window of time.
All submissions will receive notification of their outcome. Those chosen to proceed to the next step will receive specific instructions for that next step.
While the exact round in which judges are involved is not disclosed, a list of all judges involved is announced as it becomes available. Arch Grants reserves the right to modify the list of judges as necessary.
A Finalist Pitch Day is a time in which finalists in the Arch Grants Global Startup Competition are invited to St. Louis to pitch their business for final consideration for a grant. During these days, finalists will have the opportunity to meet with our esteemed group of venture capital and angel investment professionals on the competition committee, network with previous Arch Grants Recipients, and receive some additional amenities available only to finalists. During the day and a half that is required, finalists will be matched with individuals in the St. Louis community for networking purposes, in addition to learning about St. Louis and all that is has to offer.
In an attempt to be more entrepreneur-centric, we are taking an innovative approach to our competition process. As opposed to one, large event where finalists all come to St. Louis at the same time to pitch, spreading out the Finalist Pitch Days will allow us to provide more valuable programming to a smaller group of finalists. This will also allow us to give feedback to applicants as to whether they have advanced in the competition much quicker. Arch Grants Recipients will not be announced until after the LAST Finalist Pitch Day of each competition.
The Spring cohort will be announced shortly after May 7th, 2015 and will begin incubation on June 15th, 2015. The Fall cohort will be announced shortly after October 1st, 2015 and will begin incubation on November 12th, 2015.
Yes, in-person representation by at least one member of the founding team is required in order to be considered for a grant. Arch Grants requires applicants to visit St. Louis for a Finalist Pitch Day to meet other candidates, enjoy an evening with the judges, and get to know the area.
No, this component is not open to the public. Your audience may be comprised of judges, Arch Grants board and staff, and limited individuals present at the request of Arch Grants. You may invite additional team members to your specific session but you will not be allowed to observe other startups’ sessions.
These pitches are slide deck presentations to a group of about 20 individuals. Each applicant will have 20 minutes in total: we strongly suggest a 7-minute pitch and the rest of the time for Q and A.
Arch Grants limits access to applicants’ submitted information to its staff, due diligence team, competition committee, judges, and board of directors. In addition, reasonable steps are taken to limit access to these documents. The judges of Arch Grants’ startup competition are seasoned professionals accustomed to dealing with confidential materials on a regular basis.
However, there will be no confidentiality obligation by any recipient of the documents submitted for the competition for information contained therein. We ask that you not share in your application any information you feel to be highly confidential in nature.
For-profit startups from every industry are invited to apply. Particular attention will be given to the scalability of the ventures. Startups should demonstrate a plan to reach national or international impact. Additionally, we like to see some progress against the concept (e.g.; a prototype, minimum viable product, etc.). Startups planning to scale and remain in the St. Louis region are encouraged to apply.
We do not place a limit on the length of time your startup has operated or how much outside funding you have received prior to applying. We award free startup grants to businesses still in their early stages where the $50,000 and corresponding support services will make a significant impact.
Arch Grants does not have specific tracks, markets, or industries we focus on. Past companies are represented in Information Technology, Hardware Technology, Consumer Products, Manufacturing, Fashion, Medical Devices, Bio-Technology, Ag-Tech, Clean-Tech, and Social Ventures.
As the committee and community judges review applications, they will consider: the innovation of the product, technology or service; the scalability of the business model; the total impact (including sales, social value, impact on users, partners, etc.); and the qualities of the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team – their level of talent, diversity, and qualities which are value additive to the company and overall community.
There needs to be at least one founder able and willing to work full-time in St. Louis for one year. There is no limit on team size, though winning teams of any size will receive $50,000.
No, Arch Grants will not consider applications submitted by nonprofits, although social venture are encouraged to apply.
No, but if you are under 18, you will need parental permission to participate. In addition, Arch Grants recipients are required to have at least one full-time founder working in St. Louis during the year-long incubation period.
Nope! Whether you are from Missouri, Montana, or Monte Negro, you are eligible to apply to the Global Startup Competition. All Recipients must be able and willing to locate their business in St. Louis for a period of at least one year, however.
Yes, this is a global startup competition and Arch Grants will facilitate the visa application process for you, if you are eligible. We successfully relocated simMachines from Costa Rica; Wondermento and Tallyfy from London; and Lifepack from Columbia. We have immigration attorneys willing and able to donate time and service to get you to St. Louis!
Yes. Businesses around the world are invited to apply to the competition as long as you are able to move your business to the St. Louis region for your first year after receiving funding (and we hope long-after that as well).
If you are selected as an Arch Grants Recipient in the Spring Cohort, you will need to be located in St. Louis, full-time, by June 15th, 2015. If you are selected as an Arch Grants Recipient in the Fall Cohort, you will need to be located in St. Louis, full-time, by November 12th, 2015.
Although we aim not to, we may fund companies that compete in some capacity. This is inevitable, and we will look to support each company equally.
Arch Grants encourages applicants to apply using their most compelling business idea. However, if you believe you are on the founding team of more than one startup that should be considered in the competition, this allowable, but simply needs to be disclosed in the application.
Submissions must be your original idea or you must have written consent to submit an idea originally generated by another person. This must be disclosed in the application.
Yes, applicants are required to disclose all sources of funding already received and/or committed, when asked.
Yes, staff and board members of Arch Grants and their immediate family members (spouse, child, parent, sibling) are ineligible to apply for to the Arch Grants Global Startup Competition.
Entering the Competition
If your startup hits significant milestones that were NOT included in your original application, please let us know by updating your profile on PitchBurner. As an example, releasing your beta product is a significant milestone we’d want to know about; recasting your financials for year five is not. We will amend your original application with these updates so they are taken into consideration by our judges.
You need to access PitchBurner, click “Sign up and Submit Your Application” (or “Login” if you already have signed up), and fill out the application.
For the first round of judging, you will provide an executive summary and a pitch deck. If you are selected to be a finalist, you will be asked to present a business plan and a video. Details of these submissions can be found in the application on PitchBurner.
If you are selected for the final round of the competition, you will be asked to provide an eleven (11) page (maximum) business plan covering the following topics:
• What is the mission or vision of the organization?
• How does this business create and capture value?
• What is the product, service, or technology, and how is it innovative?
• Why is this unique or different, and why does it matter?
• What is the business model, and how is it scalable?
• What is the customer acquisition or marketing strategy? Who is the target market and how many people are in it?
• Who are the competitors and what are the barriers to entry? Where would the business fit in the marketplace?
• Who is on the management team? What expertise or characteristics do they have in order to run this business?
• How has the business been validated?
• What are the financial projections? What are the projected costs and revenues?
• Why would this business be of benefit to St. Louis?
• How does the business intend to utilize the grant funding?
In the Business Plan, do not share personally confidential information; do not make a financial offering; do not include previous fundraising information; do not include any company valuation information.
This all can be done in the PitchBurner portal.
The pitch deck should include the same topics as the business plan, but in a more abbreviated form. You can get a little more creative in this section!
In the Pitch Deck, do not share personally confidential information; do not make a financial offering; do not include previous fundraising information; do not include any company valuation information.
In this condensed submission, you must choose what you believe to be the most important information for the evaluators to read. Keep in mind that we are looking for scalable and innovative businesses with the potential for national or international impact, while also creating jobs in St. Louis.
In the Executive Summary, do not share personally confidential information; do not make a financial offering; do not include previous fundraising information; do not include any company valuation information.
The video submission allows applicants to complement the other competition deliverables with additional information on the team; the product, service or technology; or the business. Creativity is encouraged here. Remember, we are looking at many video submissions, what is going to make yours stand out?
In the Video, do not share personally confidential information; do not make a financial offering; do not include previous fundraising information; do not include any company valuation information.
We believe that the character of the entrepreneurs that we fund is more important than the technology or businesses that they create. With this in mind, as part of the application process, we will complete a background check on the owners (anyone with an equity stake in the organization) of each company that makes it to the final round of the competition. Only owners of the organization are subject to a background check, not employees. This process is meant to ensure that there are no significant, outstanding financial responsibilities and no fraudulent activity. This is not a credit check; your credit score will not be accessed, and running this report will not affect your credit score. We conduct these background checks through a popular service called LexisNexis.
We will not require background checks for equity stakeholders whom are accredited venture funds or angel investment groups.
That is not a problem. You will be asked for other identifying information if you are selected to be a finalist. You will also be asked to provide references.
$20,000 of the startup capital will be distributed at the beginning of the program. $10,000 will be distributed at the end of each of the quarter one and quarter two of the Arch Grants calendar. $5,000 will be distributed at the end of quarter three and at the end of quarter four. Arch Grants winners are required to provide basic reporting information to Arch Grants on an ongoing basis, so long as the business is in operation. This information helps us track how our businesses do in the long run. We do not ask for proprietary information or trade secrets.
Each startup reports data via quarterly reports submitted to Arch Grants before additional disbursements are made. We track such things as jobs created, revenue generated, contracts closed, patents applied for/accepted, and capital attracted.
Yes. Beyond the existing support with moving a business to St. Louis, Arch Grants will provide support with finding housing, social-networks and activities, cultural connections, and a sounding board for other questions or requests. Note that Arch Grants does not provide housing, but can help connect you to companies, services, and venues by which to find the right place for you and your staff.
Arch Grants does not want to be the sole source of funding and works hard to connect entrepreneurs with a strong network of investors, venture capital firms, and private investors here in the community. $50,000 can only go so far. Whether through working in the same building, through social events, or through direct introductions, Arch Grants aims to help you find funding as soon as you arrive in St. Louis (if you are raising money). Since 2012, Arch Grants companies have gone on to raise over $40 million in follow-on capital!
Yes! In addition to monetary awards, Arch Grants Recipients receive:
• Pro-bono services in the following areas: accounting, legal, marketing and design, communication, financial consulting, banking consulting and services, information technology consulting and web hosting, human resources, and payroll services.
• Access to venture capital and angel investment networks.
• Professional and high level business mentorship.
• Personal introductions to strategic business leaders.
• Social support and community integration services.
• Inclusion as part of a community of innovative entrepreneurs.
No. Arch Grants recipients are not required to be located in T-REX. There are a number of OUTSTANDING co-working spaces and incubators in the St. Louis region, each of which offers different amenities and environments, such as:
• Cambridge Innovation Center
• Helix Center
• Hive 44
• Lab 1500
Startups may be asked to provide proof of their business location. This may take the form of a lease agreement or other business license.
To ensure the funds are used for their intended purpose, we require you to sign a Program Agreement before formally becoming an Arch Grants Recipient.
Not all startup companies succeed; we understand that. If your company fails during the year-long incubation period, you will forfeit any additional funds, but will not be required to “pay back” previously disbursed funds unless the Program Agreement has been breached. Simply failing does not constitute a breach of the Program Agreement.
If your business does fail, you, as an entrepreneur, will be encouraged and supported to remain in St. Louis to start a new venture, or to join an existing startup. Failure happens, and we believe that it is not something to turn away from. Entrepreneurs whom fail are more likely to succeed in their following venture!