Looking to start your second business? Two-time founder and Arch Grant recipient Blake Marggraff shares his secrets to sophomore success. (more…)
St. Louis won’t be Amazon’s second headquarters, but we have the talent, energy, and ambition to build our tech ecosystem from the ground up.
Thinking of applying for an Arch Grant? Remember these words of wisdom from four of last year’s recipients. (more…)
Why move your startup to St. Louis? Arch Grants recipients weigh in on what drew them in — and what kept them here. (more…)
An Arch Grant doesn’t end with a check — in fact, that’s just the beginning. Learn how we match startup founders with the partnerships and guidance they’ll need to flourish in St. Louis. (more…)
The Arch Grants Global Startup Competition will be open from March 1 to May 15, 2017.
Arch Grants launched its 2017 Global Startup Competition application cycle and will award up to twenty $50,000 equity-free cash grants and pro bono support services to innovative and scalable startups that agree to locate their business in St. Louis for at least one year. Through the industry-agnostic Global Startup Competition, Arch Grants funds innovative technologies, products, and services wrapped within scalable business models that have the potential to make a national or international impact.
As a nonprofit organization, Arch Grants accelerates economic development in St. Louis by funding for-profit companies in order to retain and attract the most innovative entrepreneurs to the St. Louis region. “Arch Grants offers a unique opportunity to startups by offering equity-free cash, pro bono services, and access to the fastest growing startup city in the nation to help entrepreneurs build their companies with a solid foundation to open up space for them to take risks where they need to,” says Interim Executive Director Ben Burke.
Tyler King, Co-Founder and CEO of Less Annoying CRM, a 2014 Arch Grants Recipient from California, speaks from experience, “We moved here after we looked at all the pros and cons of cities across the U.S. The number one key for us was building a great team, and St. Louis is the best place to build a great team.“ With the advantage of dozens of four-year colleges, universities and Fortune 1,000 companies, St. Louis couples its low cost-of-living with access to talent, expertise, and business development opportunities.
Since 2012, Arch Grants has awarded more than $5.2 million in cash grants to 96 startup businesses that were ready to call St. Louis home. With the help of their program and support services, these companies have gone on to retain over 330 jobs, generate nearly $50 million in revenue, and attract over $100 million in follow-on capital. This regional impact can be traced to the impact that the organization has on its Recipients. “Arch Grants fast forwarded everything we were doing. We got our first client, we hired our first full time employee, and have expanded into a totally different network,” shares Christina Hawatmeh, Founder and CEO of Scopio, a 2015 Arch Grants Recipient from New York.
Among the many reasons to choose St. Louis for your startup, the sense of community and fewer degrees of separation in St. Louis are two factors that Arch Grants helps amplify.
Pravina Pindoria, Founder and CMO of Tallyfy, a 2014 Arch Grants Recipient from England, shares that “as soon as we landed, they [Arch Grants] said, ‘Who would you like to speak to?’ Within a couple of weeks, we had these warm introductions made with the C-suites of Emerson, Purina, and Nestle.” Pindoria says. “The sense of community spirit fostered between Arch Grants and these corporations in town is pretty incredible.”
The organization understands the benefits of creating an inclusive community, a result supported by a 2015 study by McKinsey & Co. that found “companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”
“We’re proud of the fact that 68% of Arch Grants Recipients are led or co-led by a women, person of color, immigrant, or veteran entrepreneur.” says Dalychia Saah, the Global Startup Competition Manager. “To Arch Grants, diversity is not about brownie points, it’s about innovation that stems from people with differing backgrounds working together to solve problems.”
The Arch Grants Global Startup Competition will be open until May 15th. Arch Grants Recipients will be announced to the public at their Annual Arch Grants Gala on November 3rd.
Interested entrepreneurs can check out the Arch Grants Global Startup Competition today and learn more at archgrants.org.
On March 31, NGA Director Roberto Cardillo announced the north St. Louis site as its preferred location for its much anticipated move. Although St. Louis was announced as the preferred location, the deal is not yet done. Now begins a public comment period through April 16. This is the next step in the process of bringing the NGA to north St. Louis. This vitally important project will bring 6,000 new construction jobs to the City of St. Louis; it will retain 3,100 jobs, and will result in $1.6 billion dollars invested in the near North Side. To read the full analysis of the various sites under consideration by the NGA CLICK HERE.
In the statement announcing St. Louis as the NGA’s preferred option, Director Cardillo stated, “The St. Louis site provides NGA with the most technological, academic, and professional environment for this agency to develop the capabilities and solutions necessary to solve the hardest intelligence and national security problems entrusted to us by the American people.”
- From an industry partner perspective, St. Louis is receiving national attention in its success as a city for technology industry startups.
- The relationships NGA has established with the TREX incubator in downtown St. Louis and the firms in the CORTEX Innovation Community in midtown are promising in terms of future technology supporting GEOINT.
- NGA currently enjoys strong relationships with Washington University and St. Louis University, both located in the City of St. Louis.
- Proximity to Lambert International Airport also was considered as an advantage to the St. Louis City Site.
- Funding for the Missouri Technology Corporation has increased from $2.1 million in FY2011 to over $18 million in FY2016.
- Governor Jay Nixon’s proposed FY2017 budget includes an additional $10 million in funding for MTC programs.
- MTC’s Missouri IDEA Funds program has provided over $28 million in capital investment to 85 Missouri startup companies since 2011.
- These companies have in turn been able to raise over $300 million in additional capital to grow their businesses and create jobs.
- These investments have also provided funding to support entrepreneurs through local and regional initiatives funded by the Missouri Building Entrepreneurial Capacity (MOBEC) grant program to launch or expand programs like Arch Grants, Digital Sandbox KC, the eFactory in Springfield, OPO Startups in St. Charles and the IT Entrepreneurs Network (ITEN) in St. Louis.
For the third semester in a row, Arch Grants is participating as a class client for the Management Communication program at Olin Business School at Washington University. The Mission of the Management Communication Client Project (MCCP) is to partner St. Louis organizations with Olin Business Communication students for a mutually beneficial learning experience. Partner organizations present a challenge to the students who then work over the course of a semester to come up with recommendations on the topic.
We are always excited to pair with the University on projects like this – We’re eager to hear the new perspectives of the students, and are happy to be able to provide them a learning environment that is value adding to us and to them! We’ve had positive experiences with MCCP in the past, and are pleased to be able to participate again. Recently our organization has been looking into our recruitment process. Recruiting applicants from all over the globe is a heavy and complicated endeavor, and we want to make sure that we’re meeting this charge with the quality and intentionality it deserves. So – this year, we asked the group to investigate the intentionality of recruiting a diverse group of applicants into our program, and to report back to us on their evaluation, thoughts, and recommendations! We are confident that these bright students will come up with insightful recommendations again. In addition, this is a timely and interesting project focus that both we and Dr. Linda Buhr believe will be of benefit to the students.
At Arch Grants, we always get excited by community engagement opportunities like this. Universities that cultivate bright young people with fresh perspectives are some of the most important and valuable assets we have as a region. Establishing a pipeline for these students’ engagement in the communities and industries that surround them is so essential, especially in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. Our organization sits at the center of entrepreneurs, philanthropy, and economic development, so there are so many opportunities for excellent research projects for these students. We are fully behind the MCCP Program, and are very excited for this next semester!
For more information about the Olin School of Business, click here
On Tuesday, September 15th, Arch Grants attended the final keynote address of the Maritz Innovation Symposium, held this year at the Maritz Campus from September 14th-15th. The final keynote address titled “The Rise of Downtown Innovation Districts” was given by Tim Rowe, the founder and CEO of CIC, Cambridge Innovation Center. Tim Rowe was a friendly and engaging speaker, and spoke about his background and his experience founding CIC (which has locations in Cambridge, Boston, recently St. Louis, and even more recently Rotterdam). His talk highlighted modern innovations that have fundamentally changed the way we live and work, and the role that co-working and proximity plays in the development of those innovations. He stressed that startups are the new drivers of economic development, and are creating about 3 times as many jobs as are lost every year in corporate downsizing (about 3,000,000 jobs created by startups, 1,000,000 lost from corporations) – a message that Arch Grants (and many others in the space) are constantly trying to promote!
Tim mentioned a study from 1988 that nailed home the importance of proximity in collaboration and innovation. The study found that scientists working on the same hall of the same floor of a facility work collaboratively about 10% of the time, compared to .3% for scientists on different floors of the same facility. Very interesting data to support his message – something most of us know from experience – that proximity has a lot to do with productivity. It was great to see some of our own life lessons reflected in the speech. At Arch Grants, we always encourage our companies, attracted or retained, to seek coworking space with one of the many organizations that offer them in our region. We are fortunate to have so many people supporting entrepreneurs in this way – helping connect our recipients with them is one of our favorite things to do. The team working on bringing a Downtown Innovation District to fruition here in downtown St. Louis has certainly been living out the mission that Tim sets up. We are very happy to be a part of such an exciting project and look forward to it continuing to build and take shape in the months to come. Tim’s speech certainly was timely!
Tim’s speech was an important one for our region and for our ecosystem. Before he started he asked the audience to raise their hands if they’d heard of CIC – only about half of the audience did so. It was refreshing to see so many people outside our direct ecosystem interested in hearing more about innovation. Wherever the audience came from – the corporate world, non-profits, the public sector- they all walked away with a similar message: Innovation is what moves us forward and St. Louis is an always growing playground for innovation. At Arch Grants, we have seen that our most successful entrepreneurs are those that actively build bridges outside our own ecosystem to partners in the community. We know that events like this help to bring people closer, create those connections, and build better ideas. Thanks to Maritz for hosting, and to Tim for a great speech!
For more information on the Cambridge Innovation Center click here
For a list of co-working spaces in St. Louis check out the “INCUBATORS, CO-WORKING, AND INNOVATIVE OFFICE SPACE” section of our website here.
This month we sat down with Preston Keller of Adarza BioSystems, Inc. about life as an entrepreneur in St. Louis. Adarza BioSystems is a 2013 Arch Grant Recipient.
What does Adarza BioSystems do?
We have an innovative technology that detects proteins and other analytes in various sample types including human blood or extracts from plants. Many processes today will allow someone to detect one protein in a single drop of blood, whereas our technology allows researchers to detect hundreds. This way, essentially an unlimited amount of tests can be done on a single drop of blood.
What are your specific tasks as Vice President?
Just like anyone else in a startup or small business, I wear many hats. My primary responsibilities are business development related, which includes fundraising. We just closed a Series A round in which we raised $6.8 Million in equity earlier this year. I also drive new industry partnerships. We just signed with our first customer, Horizon Discovery, a few months ago. I develop additional customers, collaborations – a lot of contract work, really. I also take care of the business marketing side of [the company]. Marketing. Sales. Branding. Web Development. All of the things that enable the sale of our product.
What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur?
That’s a good question. I enjoy the excitement of working for a startup. Certainly, things happen at a much faster pace. Every decision that you make has magnified ramifications farther down stream versus a large company where you are just one little clog in a big machine. Here, there are a lot fewer cogs and everyone has more impact on the business. It’s rewarding to be able to make an impact and drive the direction of the company.
How would you describe your experience working in incubators and in the St. Louis entrepreneurship community?
I have really enjoyed working in incubators. I’ve been around to a few in multiple cities, but I really like the model set up here in Bio St. Louis and BioGenerator, especially for Life Sciences. I appreciate them making startup funds available for companies. It is really nice when you don’t have to worry about paying rent and you can use the precious capital that you do have on advancing the company.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
It may sound like a cliché, but you need to believe in yourself. There are going to be a lot of people who want a piece of you or a piece of your company in exchange for helping you. Other naysayers will tell you that your idea won’t work because it doesn’t fit their preconceived notion of the market of other naïve reasons. If you really think you have a good idea that you want to bring forward, you need to find folks who have experience that you might lack and can add meaningful contributions to your business and support your vision for your company. And you need to stick to your guns and keep pushing forward – you are going to be told, “No,” an awful lot. You need to have the fortitude to say, “I know I’m right and I know this is a good idea.” You need to have the perseverance to push forward.
What do you wish you would have known when you first started working on your startup?
I think every entrepreneur would like to have a time machine. There isn’t any one thing, but you learn a lot as you build your company.
Why should someone apply their startup for Arch Grants?
I think Arch Grants is a lot more than a $50,000 check – it is an entire community that has been built around Arch Grants that is the ecosystem of entrepreneurship in St. Louis. I think as a first time entrepreneur, somebody who is really just getting started, I think there is a lot of support that Arch Grants provides. They really accelerate their business and maybe they won’t make some of those rookie mistakes or at least they can rectify the mistakes and catch them quickly.
Why did you apply for an Arch Grant?
We were here in St. Louis and knew that they were around. To have $50,000 dollars of non-dilutive funds as you begin your business is a pretty good deal.
Lastly, What advice would you give to an entrepreneur applying for Arch Grants to give them a better chance of winning?
You need to very clearly articulate your business proposition. People talk about their elevator pitch, their 30-second value proposition. You need to be able to quickly and accurately describe your business to convince Arch Grants you deserve to win $50,000.
Anything you’d like to add?
We are very happy to be a part of the Arch Grants family and hopefully this interview, in a way, can help someone win an Arch Grant in the future and we can pay it forward.
This month we interviewed Pat Hughes, CEO and Co-Founder of Hyde Sportswear, about life as an entrepreneur and his experience so far in St. Louis. Hyde is a 2014 Arch Grants Recipient. Hyde is a sporting equipment manufacturer and the developer of the Wingman.
What is the Wingman?
The Wingman is an inflation vest and safety device for surfers, paddlers, and swimmers that allows users to rescue themselves in the case of emergency without inhibiting the users’ performance or range of motion.
Why is your startup unique?
We are creating a whole new product category in outdoorsy stores.
What do you enjoy about being an entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself. Everyday coming to the office there are new problems and opportunities, and I don’t have to gain approval from anyone before acting on the issue and solving it.
What do you enjoy about working in St. Louis?
There is a vibrant entrepreneurial community in St. Louis and Arch Grants has connected us with industry leaders in this city to use as mentors and follow their lead.
Describe your experience working at T-REX.
It’s great so far and it’s nice having a space of our own. We are also getting to know the other Arch Grants Recipients, even using some of the software products that the other companies offer. It’s fun to use the other products being made in this building to better our business.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Start. A lot of people get hung up on analyzing every aspect of their idea, but you can’t predict every problem until you get started.
Describe your experience with Arch Grants.
It’s been awesome so far. We went through the entire process. It was fun to find out we made it to the final round and enjoyed the pitch process. We tried to have fun with it and got ready to relocate to St. Louis, and a lot of people have helped us out.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur applying for Arch Grants?
Be bold. Don’t try to be too business-like. Let your personality come out because they aren’t only investing in businesses, they are investing in people. People like to connect with people. Let them get to know you throughout the process.
Our company benjamin is a mobile app that gives the end-user two things: targeted deals on products that you love, and sixty seconds to decide whether to buy or pass. Think Groupon meets Snapchat, reinforced with some big data.
As opposed to Groupon or Living Social, who will send you a mass email that’s not targeted, we really learn the end-user. We are able to say: “you love the St. Louis Cardinals. You are a medium shirt size. Here is a deal on a medium size Cardinals jersey.” Then you have sixty seconds to decide if you want it or not.
We’re finding that sixty seconds is longer than people realize. It really is enough time to make a decision.
First of all, the deal space is really boring right now. It was really hot a few years ago but these emails are almost white noise at this point. We’re breathing life into the space by bringing in big data concepts.
Second, our business model is much different. Groupon asks for a commission deal from vendors. We use a different model. Instead of asking for a percentage of each sale, we tell vendors that for a set price, we will show your ad to a specific number of qualified buyers. It’s a unique thing for the space and it is very cost effective for the vendor.
When we started the company, we started it earlier this year in Boston. My co-founder and I had worked on a previous startup together. At that time and he was based in Florida. I asked him to come up to Boston but he not excited about the cold weather.
We were really passionate about this project so we said “Let’s find a home.”We considered San Francisco but it was too expensive. We considered Las Vegas. We actually spent some time there and we decided it wasn’t a personality fit for us. We considered Austin. We were poking all around.
My first time in St. Louis was Arch Grants Finalist Weekend. We really took a look around and considered it. St. Louis really checked all of our boxes: there’s available talent, there’s low cost of doing business, there’s a really fun downtown area, and there’s a lot of support from your community. I was just sitting down with Ben Burke right before this, and I told him about a specific thing that our company is about to face. Knowing that he has our back, and that everybody here has our back, and that everybody’s willing to talk to us and help us out is such a huge thing that you get in St. Louis that you don’t get elsewhere.
One thing that keeps people from pursuing entrepreneurship is the fear of failure. I think people are concerned that if their business plan isn’t good enough or if they are not able to execute, they fail.
I think that even if the business model or the product isn’t working out, there’s a lot of learning that is happening. As long as there is learning, there’s no failure.
What most excites you about your company?
The ability to work with a fantastic, dedicated team to create an engaging and meaningful experience that will transform how patients manage their asthma.
You’ve seen the names of the Arch Grants winners, but what are the stories behind them? Each company began with a great idea and an entrepreneur with the resolve to make it happen. Find out where the idea for each 2014 Arch Grants company began– be it an “aha!” moment while sitting on the steps of the smithsonian, or just a natural progression of a life’s worth of research and study.
Great ideas come from great people. Get the low-down on the 2014 class of brilliant entrepreneurs with a Prezi. Zoom back and forth between companies, or follow the Prezi like a slideshow– your choice!
Santa Clara, CA, May 26, 2014 – Candy Lab will present Candy B.A.R.™ at the Augmented World Expo 2014 taking place May 26th – 29th, 2014 in Santa Clara, CA. Candy B.A.R. is a unique marketing platform for brands and events looking to maximize user engagement through highly-engaging, location-specific offers and promotional campaigns. Candy B.A.R.’s breakthrough technology platform will be demonstrated to technology leaders, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and media at the widely-publicized Augmented World Expo event.
Combining the concepts of Google AdWords, Foursquare, and Super Mario Brothers, Candy B.A.R. delivers a highly engaging augmented reality experience to bring marketers’ promotions to life on mobile devices—driving real-time targeted local traffic to specific locations.
“Candy B.A.R. produces location-based augmented reality marketing applications to drive user conversions for advertising campaigns, events, and games.” says Andrew Couch, Founder and CEO of Candy Lab Inc.
Developed for events and national promotions alike, Candy Lab partners upload content to Candy B.A.R. and determine precise real-world locations where they would like their offers and content to appear. Candy B.A.R. then displays these offers on users’ mobile devices by superimposing realistic virtual objects, like branded gold coins, on devices’ camera view screens; allowing content and offers to appear as if they exist in the real world. Users are incentivized to collect these virtual items in a scavenger hunt akin to a real-life Super Mario Brothers experience.
Candy B.A.R. apps, GPS augmented reality engines, and the dashboards that manage them are fully functional and currently live in two U.S. cities: Saint Louis, MO & Corpus Christi, TX. The apps are called “STL250” and “Stop The Wrath.” Candy Lab is currently expanding and is in active discussions with a number of Fortune 500 corporations, government organizations, and global media firms.
To learn more about how Candy B.A.R. works: Click here to view PDF
About Candy Lab, Inc.: Candy Lab, Inc. is a mobile application development company based in St. Louis, MO. Founded in 2012, Candy Lab has developed the world’s first location-based augmented reality platform (Candy B.A.R.) that enables marketers and event organizers to target advertising campaigns to specific locations and engage users in real-time. Candy Lab is a 2013 Arch Grants recipient, selected as one of the top 3% of St. Louis startups.
For more information contact:
Andrew Couch | Candy Lab Inc. | 858-699-3535 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tech Cocktail is an online media company with the community for innovation enthusiasts to come together to learn and discuss new ideas happening all over the country. Tech Cocktail was started in 2006 by Frank Gruber, a former AOL and Tribune product strategist. At first, its aim was only to accelerate the local Chicago startup scene and tech communities. Later came Jen Consalvo to mold Tech Cocktail into a full time media company. Now, Tech Cocktail organizes events for startup companies, entrepreneurs and the technology obsessed while still supporting the online community by covering startup news, tricks and trends.
Tech Cocktail specializes in hosting events for these innovation enthusiasts all over the country as well as across the globe. These events are meant to attract the local technology entrepreneurs to bring them together to build the tech startup scene in each city. And while they’re mingling, they might learn a thing or two! Some of the events include local mixers, breakfasts, conferences, and festivals in several different cities. In the past, Tech Cocktail has made a point to visit San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Boulder to attempt to share technology knowledge with the startup communities in each city.
The website is also well known for writing articles focused on the tech startup scene around the country which are featured on the front page of the website. There are several different talented writers who are also innovation enthusiasts who wish to share their passion with the country. Readers can select the regional based edition at the top of the screen to get informed on the latest tech innovations in their area. A few of these regions include; Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
As you can see, St. Louis is not one of those regions. It wasn’t until recently that Tech Cocktail took notice of the St. Louis tech startup scene. In late 2013, Will Schmidt took a liking to the St. Louis startup scene and began to write on the entrepreneurial culture beginning to rise from the ashes of a devastating recession that took the country by storm in the past few years. One of the most recent articles, “A Look Inside the Quietly Growing St. Louis Startup Scene” discusses Cliff Holekamp and Jim McKelvey’s recent ventures to boost St. Louis’ ecosystem while focusing on the entrepreneurs in the city as well. On January 29th, 2014 Schmidt wrote an article about Arch Grants’ Global Startup Competition. He explains the mission of Arch Grants and what the competition can do for the St. Louis entrepreneurial culture. Schmidt goes on to state that, “St. Louis’ tech startup scene is growing and it’s not slowing down any time soon”. He couldn’t be any more right on that note. At Arch Grants we are committed to building and maintaining the entrepreneurial culture in St. Louis. We want to put St. Louis on the map for startups and find a permanent place in the minds of innovation enthusiasts, like the readers of Tech Cocktail.
ST LOUIS, MO (January 2014)-Arch Grants is well on its way for the third year of the Global Business Plan Competition.
Applications for the Global Business Plan Competition are now being accepted online at www.archgrants.org.2014. It has been announced that the final deadline for applications to be submitted is February 21st. New entrepreneurs have the opportunity to win a $50,000 non-dilutive grant toward their company as long as they are wiling to relocate to St. Louis. Arch Grants focuses on building and maintaining the entrepreneurial infrastructure and culture of St. Louis by attracting startup companies to the city. The previous competitions have brought over 30 startup companies to the St. Louis entrepreneurial culture.
Those interested will need to submit their application to www.archgrants.org/2014. Prospective winners will be notified if they have been chosen for the second round and will need to fill out the second round form explaining the more intricate details of their business plan. The deadline to submit the second round form is March 17th, 2014. Then, 50-60 companies will be invited to St. Louis for Finalist Weekend which will be held in late April. The winners of the $50,000 will be announced by June 1st, 2014 and invited to begin the program by July 1st. Arch Grants will help coordinate living and work space arrangements for all grantees.
Each winner will receive $50,000 in non-dilutive cash. We don’t want a stake in your company; we just want you to stake your company in St. Louis.
In addition, winners will receive pro bono services from top tier companies in the St. Louis region: accounting, marketing, legal, IT and more. Two winning companies will receive an additional $100,000 in follow-on grants from Arch Grants.
“Arch Grants companies have produced dramatic growth in jobs, revenue, and follow-on capital raised by the companies who are accepted,” Arch Grants President Jerry Schlichter said in a statement. “We are pleased to begin accepting applications from companies that will add more of these benefits.”
To find out more information visit: