How St. Louis Can Change Your Company, As Told by Our Entrepreneurs
January 10, 2018 • Arch Grant News •
Why move your startup to St. Louis? Arch Grants recipients weigh in on what drew them in — and what kept them here.
When we receive applications for the Arch Grant every year, we encounter a single recurring question: “Why should I move my company to St. Louis?” We could go on forever about what the region has to offer, but we think that our past recipients put it best. We polled 10 of our entrepreneurs to find out what St. Louis has meant to their business.
1. Alex Haimann, Less Annoying CRM, 2014
As the name suggests, Less Annoying CRM offers intuitive and easy-to-navigate customer relationship management (CRM) software. After joining the company in 2013, Alex moved with the company to its new headquarters on the shore of the Mississippi.
“The biggest thing that St. Louis has going for it is talent pool. For the size of the city and the metro area, we have an excellent ratio of young graduates to demand from startups. It’s a great ratio, [better] than any other metropolitan area.”
2. Jim Howard, SentiAR, 2017
Born out of Wash U, SentiAR is a digital healthcare company that creates holographic images to help surgeons perform procedures, helping them operate with even greater precision. After two decades in the healthcare industry, Howard decided to embrace the challenge of running a fledgling company.
“In the healthcare space, the ecosystem [in St. Louis] is absolutely second to none. There is not a better place to have a company form and ultimately reach their objectives. Washington University has been extremely, extremely open to our two technology founders to spend a significant amount of time on this project.”
3. Sasha Goodwin and Darryl Palmer, Janus Choice, 2016
Goodwin and Palmer created Janus Choice to provide patients with a mobile service that connects them with providers qualified to treat their specific needs, expanding access to affordable and effective healthcare. They set up shop in St. Louis to take advantage of the infrastructure available to young companies.
“St. Louis has everything we need: good transportation options,, nationally recognized academic institutions for research and cooperation, and multiple health systems to partner with. Missouri even has laws that are highly beneficial to companies with fewer than 50 employees.”
4. Erica Barnell, Andrew Barnell, and Yiming Kang, Geneoscopy, 2016
Founded by a proud St. Louisan, Geneoscopy offers tests for colorectal cancer that algorithmically read a sample’s biomarkers, making it quicker than than ever to accurately diagnose the disease. It’s benefited immensely from the thriving healthcare industry in St. Louis.
“When I went away to college and came back, I was so surprised at the growth that’s occurred here, especially for entrepreneurs who want to be in healthcare. Having everything I could possibly need — the best physicians and researchers, the Genome Institute all within half of a square mile — it’s unreal to me that this exists in my hometown. It’s phenomenal.”
5. Evan Schnidman and William MacMillan, Prattle, 2014
Schnidman and MacMillan developed Prattle to better understand the language of central banks and corporate communications. With the help of St. Louis’ community of entrepreneurs, they’re connecting with business partners who can help them achieve their goal of “develop[ing] a unique lexicon” for any company.
“The startup community here has a very open and friendly attitude toward newcomers. We’re bonded by the idea that we’re all trying to build the something in the interest of the town, regardless of industry or even competition. That has a lot of power.”
6. Jimmy, Conrad, and Lan Sansone, The Normal Brand, 2015
Started by a band of brothers, the Normal Brand has a simple business strategy — to provide “elevated, everyday wear for normal guys” at an affordable price. Its distinctly Midwestern couture is now available in major retail outlets from New York to Los Angeles.
“St. Louis has been a huge supporter of us since the beginning. We have tons of customers in St. Louis, we have a handful of great retailers who were our first and have been supportive of us since the beginning. We have St. Louis in the label of every shirt that we sell. It’s fun for us to put St. Louis, which is our home, on the map in the fashion industry. It’s new for a lot of these coastal buyers to see a brand emerge from the middle of the country that has some steam.”
7. Amit Kothari and Pravina Pindoria, Tallyfy, 2014
Kothari and Pindoria founded workflow management service Tallyfy in London, but they soon turned to St. Louis. Impressed by the city’s “huge sense of community spirit in the city’s startup ecosystem,” they’re hoping to become a major resource for B2B tech companies struggling with client and customer onboarding.
“As soon as we landed, they said, ‘Who would you like to speak to?’ Within a couple of weeks, we had these warm introductions made with various companies — large and small. The sense of community fostered between Arch Grants and these corporations in town is pretty incredible.”
8. Blake Marggraff, Betabox, 2015
While studying for his degree in biology at Wash U, Blake co-founded Betabox, an education technology company that provides prototyping equipment to schools and universities across the country. He soon moved into digital healthcare, and Arch Grants has only continued to help.
“[St. Louis has] the exact things that most fertile cities have. It’s customers, capital, and talent. [The] difference is how readily accessible those things are and how surprisingly scalable they are. The total upper bound is a little bit lower than it might be on one of the coasts, but the barrier to entry is very low, and the friction to scale up is pretty modest.”
9. Nadia Shakoor, Agrela Ecosystems, 2017
Agrela Ecosystems offers a tracking technology that monitors the growth of plants and the conditions surrounding them and instantaneously transmits the data, helping farmers better manage their crops. Already based in St. Louis, Shakoor decided to apply her expertise to a new professional challenge.
“We’re very St. Louis based. The Danforth Center and the surrounding area is turning into a massive hub for ag tech. We have a lot of competition, lots of ideas, and lots of people who are interested in seeing where this goes.”
10. Jackie Wu, Corvus Robotics, 2017
Corvus Robotics works with warehouses and distribution centers across the country to develop autonomous drones that can independently manage inventory, streamlining operations and minimizing expenses. Wu and his partner have since found St. Louis indispensable to their business strategies.
“St. Louis is a destination for a lot of the major companies in America that would be our customers. The largest manufacturers, distribution centers, and logistics companies have a presence in St. Louis, and being connected to that ecosystem would be very good for our business and we would be able to help them with a key logistics challenge by updating the way that they do things with cutting edge products. We want to create jobs in St. Louis, not just on the tech side, but also on the sales side.”