St. Louis Startup Report Shows Growth In Funding, Jobs

The St. Louis tech startup scene saw its total fundraising rise to more than $66 million in 2013, better than double last year’s total, according to the Information Technology Entrepreneurial Network (ITEN) annual report released Thursday.

In a letter to members, ITEN founder and executive director Jim Brasunas attributed the rise to increased collaboration between St. Louis’ benefactors, more money and resources available to startups locally.

“St. Louis is growing a vital new class of entrepreneurs and emerging companies,” Brasunas said. “The growth and momentum of the startup ecosystem here is building on itself, and business leaders and investors from all over the country are starting to take notice.”

Jim Brasunas, Executive Director of ITEN | Photo Courtesy of Capital Innovators
Jim Brasunas | Photo Courtesy of Capital Innovators

Arch Grants expanded its classes to 20 grantees in 2013. ITEN’s own Mock Angel program graduated eight ventures in 2013 and plans to double its capacity in 2014.

But Clifford Holekamp, general partner of Cultivation Capital, also noted that St. Louis tech startups have been garnering attention from outside the area as well. “Ironically, one of the benefits of a growing local investment community has been increased attention from out of town investors,” he wrote.

ITEN also used total funds raised, monthly revenue, and total employees to compile its Top Ten tech startups in St. Louis. Specialized sport earbud maker Yurbuds, with $10 million in fundraising, topped the list, joined by companies including Norse Corp., Aisle 411, and Lockerdome. ITEN’s Fast Ten, a list of the fastest growing St. Louis startups, was led by Rovertown, a student discount mobile app developer, followed by Pixel Press and Eateria.

The report also mentioned the challenge of meeting the need for the tech talent that early-stage St. Louis companies desperately want, as overall job growth in the startup sector remained constant in 2013.

The report noted that efforts such as LaunchCode, ArchDevAngels, and the ITEN Talent Finder, which  will be fully implemented in 2014, could play vital roles in attracting and retaining talent in the region.

“The St. Louis startup scene is hotter than ever before,” said Jim McKelvey, general partner of Cultivation Capital and co-founder of Square.

Holekamp agreed. “The tech scene in St. Louis is growing into its adolescence, and after a thorough exam, it appears to be an increasingly healthy ecosystem.”

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