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September 6, 2016

St. Louis: The City of Startups

Startup companies are being created everywhere in the St. Louis region these days, and many people are asking the question, “What changed in St. Louis to make it into a startup hub?” This blog will be the first in a series that will help answer this question, and serve as a resource for startups to succeed in the local ecosystem.

In this series, we will take deeper look into the St. Louis startup ecosystem and how it has progressed over the past five to ten years. The four main areas we will focus on to pinpoint this growth includes the rise of accelerator organizations, the expansion of the sources of funding, the development of different mentorship organizations, and finally the development of startup office spaces.

Over the past five years, the number of startup accelerators has grown tremendously in the St. Louis area. These accelerators are being created to help startup companies attain success, and accelerate the growth of their company into something great.  While the accelerator programs vary in terms of size, industry focus, number of “classes” per year, and several other factors, they are designed to help educate startups in various business disciplines.  Additionally, the accelerator programs foster collaboration between the startups in their “classes,” which helps each company realize how they are an integral part of the St. Louis startup ecosystem.

As most business owners know, startup companies generally need some level of funding in order to build and expand their businesses.  While startups have an ever increasing thirst for investment dollars, St. Louis has seen an increase in funding sources available to them over the past five to ten years. Not only are there local individual investors willing to invest in startups, there are also many other “institutional” sources for funding.  While there is always more demand for funding than there is supply, St. Louis is in a much better place from a funding perspective now versus five or ten years ago.

Mentorship Organizations
St. Louis has also become home to a wide variety of mentorship organizations that have helped build the startups they mentor. These organizations offer technical training courses, connect startup companies with other startups and professionals, including legal and accounting, and overall help guide them to accomplish their goals. Many of the mentorship organizations pull their mentors from various business backgrounds, and can tailor the mentors for a particular startup based on any areas of expertise they may be lacking.  For example, if a startup does not have a strong marketing professional on their team, the mentorship organization may be able to pair them with a current or retired marketing executive from an established St. Louis business.

Startup Office Spaces
Over the past five years, the affordable office space available to startup companies in St. Louis has increased tremendously. This office space is essential for the startup companies to expand and grow their businesses. Since most of the office spaces are collaborative work spaces, the companies get an opportunity to build their company while communicating and getting to know different startup companies working in the same building. These facilities help connect and build the startup community also, as many offer regular happy hours, events, speakers, and other social and educational events.

While the growth of accelerators, the sources of funding, the development of mentorship organizations, and the development of office spaces are not the only factors that have helped St. Louis become a startup hub, these are four of the notable drivers of startup growth in the St. Louis region. Look forward to the next blogs that dive deeper into these four areas of the St. Louis startup ecosystem and how each of them plays an integral role in making St. Louis the startup hub that can propel your business forward.  For more information on any of these areas, or to discuss ways to plug your startup into the St. Louis ecosystem, please contact the Anders Startup Group.

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