St. Louisan Wins $55,000 investment on ABC’s Shark Tank

A compendium of St. Louis Startup news, celebrating America's most innovative entrepreneurs.

Shark Tank Nets $55,000 for Pursecase

St. Louisan Jenn Deese and partner Kelley Coughlan appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank to pitch Pursecase, a clutch and phone case built into one that allows access to your smartphone and other vitals such as an ID and credit cards, plus a mirror for quick makeup checks.

The pair already raised more than $35K through Kickstarter to start production on the product. So how did the purse pair fare? They had it in the bag.

Lori Greiner, the Queen of QVC, invested $55,000 for 15 percent equity. Greiner theorized she could sell hundreds of thousands of Pursecase units on her shopping network.

Deese grew up in Wildwood and attended Lafayette High School. She now resides in Los Angeles and owns public relations agency Melrose PR.

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LaunchCode, Harvard and MIT in Possible Partnership

When we interviewed Jim McKelvey about LaunchCode, he said computer training programs in universities and on-line were “poorly designed and misdirected,” and “90 percent of students have been trained wrong.” The result is graduates are entering the job market without the right skill set.

LaunchCode is an attempt to remedy that shortcoming by “pair programming,” where coders are matched with a company to work with an experienced programmer. But it was worse than McKelvey thought. He found that all but 36 of the applicants needed more training, leaving 64 available slots vacant.

Now McKelvey is taking it straight to the universities. He met with officials from both Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about offering courses on their online education non-profit EDX, which offers anyone the ability to take college courses online for free. The courses would bring coders’ programming skill set up to speed and get them ready for LaunchCode placement in six months.

Bad News Bear Breakup

Invisible Girlfriend, an app that sends texts to the user making it appear as though he has a girlfriend, won St. Louis Startup Weekend and got a lot of attention.

Articles about the app appeared in Time, Buzz Feed, Business Insider, London Daily Telegraph, Huffington Post, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Post, Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, and too many more to mention. But 14 other companies were started at the event, including one that’s equal to Invisible Girlfriend on the bizarre scale.

Bad News Bears is a stuffed panda that delivers bad news, such as the “it’s not you it’s me” breakup, to whomever has it coming. The stuffed critter plays a video and captures the recipient’s reaction via the on-board camera.

Now when your Invisible Girlfriend gets too possessive or you catch her looking through your email, you know how to get rid of her.