Investors to recruit, fund local women's startups -

Investors to recruit, fund local women's startups

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( - A new effort to recruit and retain female-led startups in St. Louis is launching this week.  

Prosper Women Entrepreneurs launched earlier this year with a non-profit division called Prosper Institute.  It offers mentoring and education to female-lead businesses.  Since the launch of the non-profit, the group has now started a for-profit division with the aim of funneling seed money to women in the technology, science and consumer product fields.

"We haven't dipped our toe into that entrepreneurial sandbox and that early stage capital sandbox in nearly the capacity that our male counterparts have.  That's what Prosper is existing to do," said Jennifer Ehlen, Founder and Chair of Prosper Women Entrepreneurs.

Ehlen, who is also a V.P. at Thompson Street Capital Partners in Clayton, says Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Capital Group will work to close the gender gap in the startup world - linking women to information that allows them to raise more money for their new businesses.

The group's managing partners include already well-known local entrepreneurs Maxine Clark (founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop) and Dr. Mary Jo Gorman (founder of Advanced ICU Care) who plan to offer resources through an Angel Network of investors and a Startup Accelerator, a three-month educational "boot camp" that will start in January 2015.  

Prosper Accelerator plans to offer $50,000 investments in twelve companies next year.  

The Accelerator will start taking applications this September from women who are working to get their startups off the ground, recruiting businesses in St. Louis and from all over the world.   

Ehlen says the reach of the program could help St. Louis develop a reputation for being friendly to new businesses, especially those lead by women.

"We think we are going to attract women from nationally and internationally to St. Louis because we are going to put St. Louis on the map for women's entrepreneurship." 

For more on the program, click here

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