The Fattened Caf

Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2022 | Status: Active

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What is The Fattened Caf?

The Fattened Caf started through a series of game nights. It was a way for Darren to perfect his BBQ skills and a way for Charlene to introduce Filipino food to her STL community. Since then, it has grown into a pop up restaurant inside Earthbound Beer. At the height of the pandemic, Charlene and Darren had to figure out a way to pivot the business to stay afloat. They started working on a smoked longganisa recipe and packaging them for people to cook at home. It was a way for their customers to still get their Filipino food fix from The Fattened Caf in the comfort of their own home. When the opportunity came to put their packaged goods in Schnucks, they took the opportunity to get Filipino food on the shelves on mainstream grocery stores. Today they can also be found in Fresh Thyme City Foundry, United Provisions, and Old North Provisions.

Company Leadership

Charlene Bakunawa Young

co-founder & vp of operations

Charlene is a transplant to STL from Los Angeles, California. Before living in STL, she was in Melbourne Australia getting her Masters in International Relations from the University of Melbourne. She’s worked for the fundraising development field team of UNHCR, as a Policy Analyst for Project Respect, and then a Data Analyst here in STL. Since Sept 2020, she left full time work to pursue The Fattened Caf.
Charlene is a mom of 2 (3 year old and 8 month old). She considers STL her home and is empowered by all the Filipino American chefs in STL’s food scene. Even though her passion is still in humanitarian work, her mission through The Fattened Caf is to bring authentic Filipino food into grocery stores.
On her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family, Sunday family days, being outdoors, cleaning her home, and traveling.

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Darren Young

Co-founder & CEO

Darren Young is a transplant to STL from Santa Clarita, California. He has devoted over 16 years in non profit management and community development. He has a degree in Urban Missions. Currently, he is the Area Director of Young Life, a youth development and outreach program, in Saint Louis City. When he isn’t program planning and strategic thinking, Darren loves all things BBQ and is the grill master of The Fattened Caf. He enjoys recipe development and sausage making the most! Darren also enjoys feeding people. In his free time, he loves hanging out with his family, grilling for friends, and watching a great movie.On her spare time, she loves to spend time with her family, Sunday family days, being outdoors, cleaning her home, and traveling.

Queritel

Origin: FL | Grant Awarded: 2022 | Status: Active

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What is Queritel?

Committed to helping independent business owners compete and win, Queritel’s cutting-edge omnichannel retail point-of-sale (POS) solution—Figozo —equips SMBs with the ability to reach more customers both in-store and online while maintaining the level of personalization that makes them stand out.

So, how does it work? Figozo helps retailers set up cloud-based catalogs that are updated in real-time so they can have an accurate view of the products they have available, whether they are selling in-store, online, at a flea market, farmers market, or all of the above. With Figozo, merchants can build their online store, configure a slick POS device for in-store and on-the-go transactions, plus offer multiple payment methods, including Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and gift cards, to provide a seamless customer experience. The platform can also keep track of inventory and send updates to team members or key stakeholders (like brands) about items that might soon be out of stock, helping retail merchants efficiently track and manage supplies.

Company Leadership

Shani Bennett

cEO

Shani Bennett is the co-founder and CEO of Queritel, a data analytics engine for independent retailers. Prior to Queritel, Shani was a senior analyst for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a United Nations agency tasked with helping countries eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth and human development. Shani Bennett is passionate about human and community development. Shani loves to watch cooking shows and designing logos for imaginary companies.

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Nutrible

Origin: CA | Grant Awarded: 2022 | Status: Active

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What is Nutrible?

Nutrible is a web app and virtual medical practice that delivers diagnosis-based food directly to patients as soon as they are discharged from hospitals, emergency departments, behavioral health facilities, and other healthcare settings.

More than 3.8 million times per year, patients leave healthcare settings without the resources they need to live independently. With our technology and processes, we partner with healthcare organizations to ensure their most vulnerable patients live full and healthy lives.

Company Leadership

Kwamane Liddell, JD, MHA, BSN

founder & cEO

Kwamane Liddell, JD, MHA, BSN is a health equity visionary and business leader who has saved lives, and believes healthy food should be accessible to every sick person. While Kwamane was an emergency department nurse, he witnessed the devastation that happens to families when they don’t have the right food at home. Those patients inspired him to create Nutrible, where he uses his experiences as a trauma nurse, healthcare lawyer, and entrepreneur to build technology that connects the current healthcare and grocery systems. Nutrible focuses on the most vulnerable patient populations and makes it easy for patients to access food that aligns with their medical, cultural, and financial needs.

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MARSfarm

Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2022 | Status: Active

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What is MARSfarm?

There is a technological revolution occurring in the agricultural industry to ensure that humans will be able to sustainably feed our growing population in a changing climate. For over a century, U.S. farmers have learned the technical skills they need from vocational programs in secondary schools. Teachers working in these agriculture programs are desperate to bridge the growing disconnect between the technology being used in the industry and what is accessible to them.

MARSfarm brings ag-tech into the classroom by providing a platform for agricultural educators to give students early exposure to emerging industry practices and problems. Countertop-sized greenhouses designed for the classroom are the enabling hardware of this platform. Our software provides the ability to execute control sequences (called “recipes”) in these greenhouses and remotely monitor them. Consumable kits consisting of seeds, fertilizer, etc. are paired with “recipes” designed in partnership with pioneers of emerging agricultural technologies. This combination of equipment, software, and consumables will ensure that educators are always teaching industry-relevant skills that lead to valuable career education.

Company Leadership

Peter Webb

cEO

Peter Webb began his career working first as a database administrator and then in a business development role at Hussmann Corporation. Peter has also consulted for The Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab and served as the Director of Indoor Farming at The Yield Lab Institute where he mentored several startups in the IN2 program.

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Drew Thomas

coO

Drew Thomas comes from a background in engineering, manufacturing, and career technical education. After experiencing CTE training firsthand at Ranken Technical College, he spent his career programming CNC machines to serve the aerospace industry. This led to consulting opportunities for Quip and a teaching position at TechShop, a maker-space formerly in Cortex.

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Dataplant

Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2022 | Status: Active

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What is Disco!?

Disco! (timetodisco.com) is a web platform that enables consumers to explore and book curated group events on demand across a variety of industries. As the category leader of automated group experiences, Disco! is disrupting the traditional event planning process to remove the friction between consumers and businesses and make group events accessible to all. For local businesses, the platform enables entirely new revenue streams, reduces labor costs and connects businesses to great customers.

Disco! offers real time booking across all industries and business types with a “curated” look and feel that consumers desire. With the continued growth of our end to end planning features, consumers will be able to utilize Disco! to seamlessly coordinate all details with their group, encouraging repeat bookings.

Company Leadership

Brittany Dwyer

founder

Brittany Dwyer’s background in the event and hospitality industry combined with her passion for connecting people through memorable shared experiences was the force behind launching Disco! She has over 7 years experience leading large software development initiatives at a startup, digital agencies and a large corporate company.

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Balancetopia

Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2022 | Status: Active

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What is Balancetopia?

Balancetopia is a meal kit company made for women. By combining nutrition science and nutrition education, we prepare heat-at-eat meals personalized for postpartum. Using a precision nutrition approach, our meal options give women the nutrients they need to prevent painful symptoms during their transition into motherhood. With nutrient-dense breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, our meals are proven to alleviate postpartum mood changes and inflammation so that every day can feel like a good day.

Company Leadership

Najjuwah Walden

CEO

As a nutritional epidemiologist and reproductive scientist, Najjuwah creates the solutions she needs as a doula. For many of her clients, food decisions lead to complications without necessary nutrition education for the postpartum period. As a result, she pursued a Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studies the nutrition factors of postpartum recovery and tests the recipes that inform Hormonetopia’s meal kits.

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Halo + Cleaver

Origin: CO/MO | Grant Awarded: 2021 | Status: Active

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What is Halo + Cleaver?

Halo + Cleaver makes the most flavorful zero-added-sugar sauces on market. We clean up traditionally “dirty” sauces like BBQ sauce and Ketchup using naturally sweet ingredients like apples and pineapples in place of sugar or corn syrup. We are the only brand that uses Green Banana Flour in our Ketchup, a functional and upcycled ingredient with a unique sustainability story. All three of our products are Whole30 Approved, Keto Approved, gluten free, plant based, and non GMO. Halo + Cleaver is co-owned by St. Louis natives Matt Richard and Rob Garwitz who share a passion for clean eating. The company’s mission is to empower current and future generations to live long, healthy, and fulfilled lives.

Company Leadership

Matt Richard

co-Founder

Matt is a St. Louis native with a passion for natural foods. He is a food scientist by trade and spent years developing sauces and dressings for big brands like Panera Bread Company. Matt is also a competitive barbecue pit-master which inspired some of the recipes for Halo + Cleaver. He has his MBA from Olin Business School and an MS in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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Rob Garwitz

co-Founder & CEO

Rob is a proud St. Louis native who shares Matt’s passion for natural foods. He started his career in sporting goods working for Nike, Inc. for six years in sales and marketing before pivoting to the food industry. Rob has his MBA from Olin Business School and serves as the CEO of the company. He has been married to his wife, Emilie, for 7 years and has two children, Eleanor (3) and Will (1).

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Mighty Cricket

Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2021 | Status: Active

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What is Mighty Cricket?

Mighty Cricket is a next-generation protein company building a clean protein supply to sustain the world. Discover Mighty Cricket’s high protein oatmeals, protein powder supplements, and chocolate bars all made with sustainable proteins at MightyCricket.com.

Company Leadership

Sarah Schlafly

owner

Sarah Schlafly is a “cereal” entrepreneur—cricket cereal, that is. Her inspiration for Mighty Cricket was born out of a problem that bugged her: the harmful effects of industrialized meat. Before founding the clean protein company, Sarah worked as an accountant, chef, cooking instructor and digital marketer for a national food brand. She was awarded Inc. Magazine’s Military Entrepreneur Special Delegate, Feast Magazine’s Rising Star, and St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 Under 30.

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Involved Industries

Be a Part of the Movement

We champion extraordinary entrepreneurs to create positive change – for St. Louis and for the world. Join us by applying to our Global Startup Competition, becoming a financial supporter, volunteering your time or amplifying our message.

Mississippi Mud Coffee

Origin: MO | Grant Awarded: 2021 | Status: Active

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What is Mississippi Mud Coffee?

St. Louis-based Mississippi Mud Coffee is a wholesale production company specializing in organic coffees and cafe-inspired beverages. From its beginnings in 2004, roasting coffee on the banks of the Mississippi River, the company has honed and perfected its craft with an uncompromising commitment to freshness and flavor, developing new products and expanding distribution nationwide, earning a loyal following and a name that is synonymous with some of the best coffees available anywhere.

Company Leadership

christopher ruess

president

Company Founder Christopher Ruess’s success in the coffee business is fueled by extensive experience in the wine industry, coupled with his achievements in design, digital marketing, management and communications. In addition to his work with Mississippi Mud Coffee, Chris has served as Director of Marketing and Sales for Crown Valley Winery; Director of Development and Director of Marketing for the Vino family of companies; and Owner and President of Ruess + Ruess Marketing Communication Group.

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Chandler Branch

CeO

At the forefront of Chandler Branch’s career is proven success in fundraising, planning, management and communication, for programs and events in the US, Russia, France, Portugal, the Netherlands and Costa Rica. He has served as President & CEO of the SDG Music Foundation (2002-2011); Executive Director of Art Saint Louis (2011-2020); and CEO of Mississippi Mud Coffee (2020-present). Chandler is a member of the 2016-17 class of FOCUS St. Louis’s Leadership St. Louis program.

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Involved Industries

Be a Part of the Movement

We champion extraordinary entrepreneurs to create positive change – for St. Louis and for the world. Join us by applying to our Global Startup Competition, becoming a financial supporter, volunteering your time or amplifying our message.