Local startups compete for thousands in grant money

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by Diana Zoga / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 16 at 5:36 PM

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) -- This year's Startup Challenge contest came to a close on Tuesday evening, with 150 entrepreneurs applying for grant money administered by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. 

The first place winner will earn $50,000.  A $30,000 award will be given to the second startup chosen and $20,000 will go to the 3rd place winner.  The companies also receive office space for a year, along with accounting, legal, and marketing services.
 
"It's just growing by leaps and bounds," said Drew Winship, CEO of Juristat - which won the Startup Challenge's first prize last year.  The subscription service offers data that lawyers (especially patent lawyers) would find useful.  Juristat won the $50,000 Startup Challenge prize along with two grants from Arch Grants, another group that provides seed money to local small businesses.
 
"For a long time, St. Louis was falling behind in the startup world because there was a lack of early stage funding.  Now, you have Arch Grants giving away at least a million dollars a year, you have Olin Cup at Washington University, you have programs coming out of BioGenerator, you have ITEN, you have Startup Challenge.  There's a lot of opportunities to get early stage capital," said Winship.
 
https://juristat.com/ Juristat started out as a company of three.  Winship says it is hiring its 10th employee this summer.
 
http://www.syneksystem.com/ Another idea, given $30,000 in Startup Challenge money last year, is preparing to go to market next year. Steve Young says his Synek Draft System can do for beer what Keurig did for coffee.
 
"This allows you to not only fill whatever beer you want, but you can interchange cartridges and you have 30 days to drink whatever assortment of beer you want," said Young.
 
He says his company is targeting craft brewers and providing a simple way to get their product into people's homes. "They can get access to any beer ever made, fresh, on their kitchen counter."
 
Both companies are headed by young entrepreneurs with big ideas, who say the small investments provided enough seed money to raise more funds.  
 
Winship says the organized efforts to support startups could pay off for the local economy - as a whole.
 
"If we want to grow jobs here in St. Louis, if we want to improve the quality of life for all St. Louisans, we need to grow the tech sector and the way you do it is through startups." 
 

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