Speaking Startup: Accelerating diversity in St. Louis startups

St. Louis entrepreneur Akeem Shannon has enjoyed a busy few months, pitching his smartphone accessory, the Flipstik, on the television show “Shark Tank” and earning a spot in the inaugural Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Accelerator at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

He credits opportunities like the accelerator with helping him gain important introductions and access. Now, Shannon said, he can pick up the phone and call people who, once upon a time, “probably wouldn’t have answered.”

Shannon joined this week’s Speaking Startup podcast to discuss the new accelerator program, which kicked off last month. It’s working with six minority-founded startups, and Shannon hopes it can catalyze change in the startup landscape.

“Being a part of these programs is definitely a great first step in kind of changing that narrative in St. Louis, and really around the country,” Shannon said. “It’s not just a St. Louis-based issue.”

Also in this week’s episode, we look into entrepreneurs who are trying to make waves in the business of beers and bars — without the booze.

Beverage companies and bars are trying to attract customers with the idea of alcohol-free versions of experiences and products that would typically involve alcohol.


The Speaking Startup podcast explores news and issues important to Missouri entrepreneurs. Find more Speaking Startup on our website or wherever you get podcasts.


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