TrakBill, a St. Louis startup that makes software to track state and federal legislation, has received a $500,000 investment from Cultivation Capital, a St. Louis venture capital firm that invests in technology startups in the Midwest.
Co-founder Steven Marciniak says that TrakBill now has the means to expand its coverage and further develop its software.
“We started with 90 cents in the bank account,” Marciniak said. “The funding will substantially help us add more developers to grow out our platform.”
After launching a new platform a few weeks ago, the company now tracks federal legislation in addition to bills in Missouri and Illinois. TrakBill expects to increase access to legislation in the remaining 48 states by the end of this year.
TrakBill becomes the 10th investment Cultivation Capital has made since it started in March 2012 as a $20 million fund. Marciniak said that one of the firm’s partners, Brian Matthews, mentored the startup as part of the Capital Innovators Accelerator program, which originally brought the TrakBill team to St. Louis from Springfield, Ill.
“As early-stage investors, we look for a combination of a great idea led by a great team,” said Clifford Holekamp, a partner at Cultivation Capital. “TrakBill, and their founders Steve and Sam, represented the hard-to-find combination that we look for. The team half of the equation is harder to come by — that’s why we are so excited to work with TrakBill.”
After receiving a $50,000 grant from Arch Grants in May, the startup is now permanently located downtown St. Louis in the old Laclede Gas and Light building. The team consists of Marciniak and his co-founder, Sam Sullivan, plus two sales and marketing employees and two interns from Washington University. They plan to hire four more developers in the near future.
Marciniak said a friend he knew from freshman year at the University of Illinois approached him with the idea, and they started development in August 2012.
“My friend Jerry was interning for a lobbyist in Springfield, Ill., Andrew Proctor,” Marciniak said. “Jerry asked if I knew anyone that could build a tool that would allow him to better track legislation. Originally, I thought he wanted something very simple, like an RSS feed of all the bills that go through, but he wanted something a lot more customizable and a lot more in depth.”
TrakBill is meant to be used by lobbyists and anyone who is interested in legislation, ultimately making the legislative process more transparent to the public.
Marciniak, who originally went to school for aerospace engineering, graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in management entrepreneurship. Having worked in sales before joining TrakBill, Marciniak says he enjoys the challenge of running a startup.
“You constantly have to be selling,” he said. “Not only your product, but yourself — to customers, investors and anyone that you talk to. You’re always pitching your company.”
Missouri Business Alert met with Marciniak in his company’s new office and talked with him about 16-hour workdays, sleeping on a couch and his first sales experience.