9 Ways to Get Involved in the St. Louis Startup Community

December 10, 2016

Looking to get involved in the St. Louis innovation community? Let us count the ways…

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1. Get Informed

New to the scene? Tune into local media that covers the startup community. From spotlights on the companies to event coverage, you’ll get familiar with local happenings by reading EQ’s startup news and features in print and online, exploring TechFlash from the St. Louis Business Journal, and listening to Nothing Impossible on KMOX News Radio.

Check it out:
St. Louis Business Journal
Nothing Impossible

2. Show Up

There are a wide range of startup events happening every week. Venture Cafe, a weekly Thursday night event in the Cortex district, is the perfect introduction to the innovation ecosystem. Go for an hour or stay the whole evening (3-8pm) for panel discussions, happy hour, and a welcoming community. The weekly mix of 500+ people is a great opportunity to share ideas and grow your circle. No RSVP required. Just show up and see STL at its best.

Quarterly, Accelerate St. Louis presents the #CEO2CEO conversation series. These conversations bring together chief executives of both large businesses and burgeoning startups in the region to discuss how to build thriving enterprises.

Startup Connection, St. Louis’ largest annual startup event, draws more than 1,500 people with an interest in the startup community and highlights 70 top startups. This not-to-miss evening happens every year in November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.

There are so many events and activities…at least a dozen a week.  Find something that interests you on EQ’s startup community calendar.

Check it out:

3. Join a Co-Working Community

Whether you need an office space or not, co-working communities are a great way to connect with the tech community. You can become a community member at TechArtista for $13/month and attend their member events (rooftop BBQ and beer tasting, anyone?) or get a desk membership at T-REx for as low as $50/month. There is a spot that fits your personality and needs: CIC-St. Louis and TechArtista in Midtown, OPO Startups in St. Charles, Peer 151 in Belleville, ITE near UMSL, Hive44 in Fenton, Nebula, Downtown’s T-REX, Industrious, and Claim, plus STL Venture Work’s five locations around the region. Pick your amenities and you’ll find a space that’s perfect for you.

Check it out:
EQ’s full guide to co-working

4. Expand Your Skills

We’re fortunate to have a robust IT community in St. Louis, including great places to learn or expand your coding skills. Get your start with LaunchCode, Coder Girls, Claim Academy, or Savvy Coders.  In addition to coding classes, you can hone your “how to grow a business” skills at CET’s Square One workshops and with the online toolkit. The Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City is also a wealth of information, including videos on how to start a business, and research on trends in entrepreneurship.

Check it out:
CET Online Toolkit
EQ Guide to Coding Classes & Meetups

5. Pitch Your Ideas!

Show up to hear others’ ideas and, when you’re ready, pitch your own.

1 Million Cups is a free weekly meetup on Wednesday mornings, currently hosted at T-REX. The community provides feedback and connects to early stage entrepreneurs.

House of Genius happens monthly at Cortex, with an anonymous audience of 20 working on solutions for three startups. Great feedback; even better connecting to new people.

WashU’s ldeaBounce has an online platform for idea sharing and regular opportunities to “bounce”.

Check it out:

6. Hack Away

Hackathons are an awesome way to meet new people and build something amazing with a group. New to that? No problem. Show up and join an existing team. From Hello, Hackathon for newbies to GlobalHack, the $1 million competition, there are a range of hack events to check out.

Check it out:
Hello, Hackathon at ProsperSTL.com

7. Be A Joiner

What’s your passion? Whether it’s mentoring, coding for a cause, investing dollars into the next big thing or just meeting interesting new people doing amazing things, you can do that. Attend, listen, share, participate, mentor, coach… there are so many ways to become involved! See a few options below; check out dozens more here.

Check it out:
ITEN – catalyst for Tech startups
Prosper Women Entrepreneurs
STL Cyber Security Meetup
St. Louis Makes
Virtual Reality Augmented Reality Association (VRARA)

8. Apply

St. Louis is home to a great mix of competitions and accelerators, programs that invest in our startups and coach them during a rapid growth experience. Check with each program for their specialization and application cycle, including:

Arch Grants
Capital Innovators
Prosper Women Entrepreneurs
SixThirty CYBER
Stadia Ventures
St. Louis Fashion Fund
The Pet Care Innovation Prize
The Yield Lab
Accelerate St. Louis Challenge
Balsa Foundation
Washington University Skandalaris Center Cup
Washington University Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Competition (SEIC)

See EQ’s Guide to St. Louis Accelerator Programs here.

9. Invest

Interested in investing in what might be the next big thing? Or donating to a great cause that fuels almost two dozen startups a year? Check out the list of St. Louis venture capital firms or donate to Arch Grants, a nonprofit that gives equity-free grants twice a year to scalable startups creating jobs in St. Louis.

List compiled by Kelly Hamilton (EQ) and Phyllis Ellison (Cortex)

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