Thinking of starting up in St. Louis? Check out some of the city's best co-working spaces, groups for entrepreneurs, upcoming events and more.
By Jake Guidry (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0)
For those who’ve never been, St. Louis to you is likely just another small, ho-hum Midwestern town that happens to be adorned with the tallest man-made monument in the U.S. And while it’s true St. Louis can’t offer all the bells and whistles a major city can, there’s plenty of exciting things happening in the city billed as the Gateway to the West.
Among its main attractions are the world-class St. Louis Zoo, City Museum and Missouri Botanical Garden, not to mention a burgeoning food, nightlife and craft beer scene. It’s also a great place to start a career. In fact, Forbes named St. Louis the “happiest city for job-seeking college grads” in 2012.
But what does St. Louis offer for entrepreneurs in the tech scene? Well, a lot. The city has done plenty to attract startups in the last few years, which translates to lots of resources for those looking to set up shop and connect with others in St. Louis.
Co-Working Spaces in St. Louis
A co-working space is a great way to minimize up-front costs and network with other entrepreneurs in a variety of industries.
Nebula: This co-working space is located in the hip Cherokee Business District and is geared towards “creative professionals, small businesses, independent contractors, artists and non-profits looking for a place to build, create, develop, and collaborate.” There are a variety of options when it comes to using the space, ranging from a “virtual office” to a private studio.
T-REX: T-REX is located downtown and houses more than 100 startups in its five-story space. Its main goal is to aid in the growth of St. Louis through nurturing these startups.
Lab1500: Lab1500 stands just a few blocks away from T-REX in a 120-year-old industrial building on historic Washington Ave. This co-working space welcomes both the experienced and not-so-experienced and was founded on the principle that “collaboration drives innovation.” More than just a places for entrepreneurs to co-exist, Lab1500 encourages growth through its community.
Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC): Though it’s not slated to open its St. Louis location until this fall, CIC has a rich history of incubating startups and providing space for established tech giants. In its 15-year existence, CIC has housed more than 1,400 companies including Facebook and Amazon. When it finally opens its first location outside of Massachusetts, St. Louis should see a sizeable bump in startup activity.
Entrepreneur Groups in St. Louis
Sometimes all you need is a network of ambitious people to get your mojo going. Entrepreneur groups are a great way to connect and grow your business.
Prosper: Prosper was started with one goal in mind: To address the entrepreneur gender gap in the St. Louis region. It consists of all sorts of people looking to make an impact and ensure St. Louis is poised to succeed in the “new economy.” It’s a wonderful resource for anyone looking to make St. Louis a better place to work.
StartLouis: This 3-year-old startup community regularly holds events and meetings every second Tuesday of the month and is free of charge.
Women Entrepreneurs of St. Louis (WEST): WEST’s M.O. is simple: inspire, connect, and empower women entrepreneurs in and around St. Louis. The group throws a number of events that are open to the public and free to members.
The St. Louis Entrepreneurs Meetup Group: This group is aimed at entrepreneurs of all types and regularly hosts meetups for its members.
Upcoming Events in St. Louis
There are a variety of upcoming events, both big and small, in the St. Louis area.
Women 2.0 City Meetup (August 7): We’ll be launching our first St. Louis meetup this month, featuring talks from Andrea Soto of MasterCard and our very own CEO and co-founder Shaherose Charania.
Women Entrepreneurs (September 9): StartLouis will be hosting this women-centric event that includes a chance to network, practice your startup pitch and listen to prominent figures in the startup scene.
Inclusion in STL (Septembert 18): This event, hosted by the aforementioned WEST, will discuss issues facing women entrepreneurs in St. Louis, as well as what the city has done to advance on these issues in the last five years.
Startup VooDoo (September): Startup VooDoo is a new startup conference founded by St. Louis entrepreneurs Aaron Perlut (Elasticity, Rally St. Louis) and Edward Domain (Techli). The conference, which takes place at Busch Stadium’s Ballpark Village, features everything from panels on how to build your startup, to keynote talks with startup veterans such as Square’s Jim McKelvey.
Female-Founded Startups in St. Louis
Artifox: Artifox was founded by Sarah Carpenter and Dan Mirth as a “free-formed design team dedicated to reinventing the way we use everyday items.”
Greetabl: Founded by Zoe Scharf and Joe Fischer, greetabl is a greeting card that doubles as a gift box that allows you to wrap small items to give to friends and family.
Accelerate St. Louis: Accelerate St. Louis is a self-proclaimed “one-stop-shop” for entrepreneurs. It’s a mishmash of everything entrepreneurs need: Resources to help launch your startup, investors and even ventures to get involved with. There’s also a handy calendar of events so you can continue to network and learn.
About the author: Jake Guidry is a freelance writer and DJ living in Chicago. His passions are craft beer, baseball and making people dance. Follow him on Twitter at @jakeguidry.