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Arch Grants Founders Give Advice to New Applicants

January 17, 2020 • Arch Grant News

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Thinking of applying for an Arch Grant? Remember these words of wisdom from four of last year’s recipients.

What makes a successful Arch Grant application? Hard work and business smarts certainly help, but if there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that there isn’t one right path to an Arch Grant. Every successful applicant has brought unique strengths and skillsets to the table, and came to us with a variety of challenges to be solved.

There are, however, some common threads among our recipients. We asked four of them about the advice they’d give to new applicants — and here’s what they said:

Tiffany Chimal, MakersValley, 2017

“Make sure that coming to STL is right for your business stage.”

There’s no denying that St. Louis is a great city for entrepreneurs — it has the fastest-growing startup scene of any city in America — but that doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for all companies. Before applying for an Arch Grant, you should research your industry’s presence in St. Louis, the resources the city offers to companies in the field, and any local competition. St. Louis is an ideal climate for many businesses, but it doesn’t have an ideal infrastructure for every company.

Nancy Tye Murray, clEARworks, 2017

“Practice, practice, practice your pitch before you go in, and make sure you’re receptive to feedback.”

As any Recipient will tell you, the pitch is one of the most decisive moments in the application process. You’ll be presenting to a panel of judges from a number of industries, including yours — make sure that you know your presentation inside and out, and that it’s digestible to people with a limited knowledge of your field of work. In addition, think through the questions the judges may ask you and prepare your answers in advance.

Nadia Shakoor, Agrela Ecosystems, 2017

“Do your research. Understand what STL has to offer and what you can obtain from the ecosystem, as well as what you can create there.”

We can’t give your ship a destination, but we can provide the resources to get there. Before applying, conduct an honest assessment of your business plan and growth strategy. Better yet, ask a mentor or colleague to go through it with you.

Receiving an Arch Grant can be a great way to jumpstart a young business, but your growth and business model need to be sustainable over the long term. The application will ask you how you’ll acquire customers, make money, and grow revenue over several years — the more you’ve thought it through, the better. If you have a plan in place — even if it’s not perfect — we’ll be in a stronger position to help you realize your goals

Jackie Wu, Corvus Robotics, 2017

“Looking at the fundamentals is important. Don’t focus exclusively on making your company attractive just for Arch Grants, but to anyone who’d want to be a part of the journey.”

When applying for an Arch Grant, you’ll be exposed to partners and investors from St. Louis and beyond who might be interested in your business. You want to make sure that you and your business are in the best position possible to appeal to those people. It can also help with your presentation, since the panel draws experts and entrepreneurs from many industries.

When drafting your application, consider how your answers would sound to our panel, but also to investors, vendors, or partners you’re trying to work with. Keep in mind what motivates each different audience — for example, investors will want to know more about growth, while potential partners will be interested in the benefits your partnership will bring to their business.

Though the Arch Grants application process is highly competitive, a robust business plan and careful consideration of what St. Louis has to offer will get you far. We’re already excited to meet the next round of applicants and look forward to seeing how they’ll put this advice into practice.