St. Louis Startup News Round-up: Denim and Pluton Raise Millions

Quick summary of some of the major things going on in the St. Louis Innovation Ecosystem.

Startup Spotlight


Erica Barnell, co-founder of Geneoscopy, is making groundbreaking changes for screening colon cancer. This diagnostic startup specializes in non-invasive means to monitor, diagnose, and treat gastrointestinal diseases. As the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, and the aversion towards the existing screening options, Geneoscopy has created an amazing value proposition to the patients.

Check out the full story by Alecia Humphreys on The STL.

Geneoscopy Makes Key Hire

St. Louis startup Geneoscopy which develops diagnostic tools for gastrointestinal health, hires Dr. Haythem Gareer as Chief Medical Officer as it aims expansion. Genesocopy intends to grow their product and professional portfolio with Dr. Gareer and his expertise to improve evidence generation and publication.

Check out the full story by Nathan Rubbelke on STL Inno.

Goldman Sachs Names St. Louis Co-founder in List of Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs

Co-founder, Andrew Barnell, of Geneoscopy has been recognized as one of the Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2021. Barnell was selected by Goldman Sachs at the two-day of Builders + Innovators Summit, held in Healdsburg, California. The life science company focuses on the development of diagnostic tests for gastrointestinal health.

Check out the full story by Jonathan Allen on Entrepreneur Quarterly.


St. Louis biotechnology startup Pluton Biosciences has raised $6.6 million in seed funding, from a mix of angel and institutional investors, to advance research and boost its efforts to focus on developing natural products designed to mitigate climate change and reduce the use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture.

The company will be utilizing the funds on automation for new product development that has been in the pipeline and adding few members to the team, reports Paul Riat from the 4thEst8, who broke the story.

Pluton’s fresh funding from Oakland-based venture capital firm Better Ventures, Grantham Foundation, Fall Line Capital, First In Ventures, Wing Venture Capital and St. Louis-based Yield Lab Institute came following research with Germany’s Pharmaceutical Multinational, Bayer to use its technology to develop soil microbes designed to store carbon and nitrogen.

Check out the full story by Nathan Rubbelke on STL Inno.


Denim Social recently announced completion of a $5 million Series B round of financing with FINTOP Capital and partner, JAM FINTOP BankTech, an investment fund designed to help develop and accelerate technology adoption at community banks across the United States. The funds will support product development and drive significant marketing and sales expansion for the St. Louis-based SaaS provider.

Check out the full story by Jonathan Allen on Entrepreneur Quarterly.

Founder Spotlight

Flipstik Founder on his Gravity-Defying Entrepreneurial Journey

A rap and a Flipstik was all St.Louis entrepreneur Akeem Shannon needed to grab the attention of celebrities from Sean Combs (Diddy) to Snoop Dogg and an appearance on ABC’s show ‘Shark Tank’ where he accepted Lori Greiner’s offer to invest $100,000 for 25% equity. His creation Flipstik, a cell phone accessory made of strong double-sided adhesive material that is placed on the back of a mobile device allows the user to mount it to a variety of surfaces over and over again. Being a part of the inaugural spring 2021 cohort of University of Missouri – St. Louis Accelerate’s newest program, the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Accelerator, Shannon was able to receive financial grant, business mentorship and connection to big box retail stores to boost Flipstik sales.

Check out the full story by Dana Rieck on The STL.

Transforming Vacant Lots into Pocket Parks

The less than year old non-profit, Pocketparks transforms vacant lots to active community spaces. Founder, Samantha Lee Smugala, aims to reflect each park to have its own personality, whilst ensuring the three key pillars are in place – art, activation, and opportunity. This initiative has already four parks in progress, and each space or park is designed to exhibit the identity of each community with their wants and needs.

Check out the full story by Alecia Humphreys on The STL.

Stadia Founder Launching Social Network for Sports Execs

Stadia Ventures’s co-founder and serial entrepreneur Tim Hayden steps away from day-to-day operations at Stadia to co-found ‘Xvisory’, an invitation-only social network for sports executives that could be trusted for personal and professional advice. Xvisory will be an online forum including virtual or in-person events, generating revenue only through membership fees. Hayden stands as a general partner, mentor and investor for Stadia.

Check out the full story by David Niklaus on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Industry Spotlight 

Enjoy Meatlessness

Why Plant-based Protein is Everywhere Now

From tacos made with synthetic chicken to impossible burgers, plant based protein is attracting popularity. Unhealthy western diets have triggered Asian governments to stick to their roots and promote plant based diets. However, in the US, the gap between the growing demand for plant-based meats and farmers struggling to produce enough protein-bearing crops can be addressed only by an investment shift to support the work by synthetic biology companies like Benson Hill, Zymergen and Ginkgo Bioworks. Synbiology is more than just big data. It’s microfluidics, it is directed breeding, it is gene editing, all to improve the process efficiency and quality of plant-based proteins.

Check out the full post by Carter Williams on the iSelect blog.

Benson Hill Buys Soybean Crushing Facility

Agtech company Benson Hill has acquired a soybean crushing facility from Seymour, Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms to address the growing demand for plant-based protein ingredients. With the global plant protein market projected to surpass $162 billion by 2030, Benson Hill is heading for success with their innovative non-GMO, identity preserved and sustainable soybean products, including ultra-high protein soybean ingredients both for human food and animal feed markets.

Check out the full story by Jonathan Allen on Entrepreneur Quarterly.

Kansas City Agtech Startup expands to St. Louis

TechAccel and RNAissance Ag LLC expands offices, facilities and labs to St. Louis’ BRDG Park at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. This expansion and subsequent growth enabled TechAccel to be a part of the 39 North Agriculture Biotech Innovation District, which, in-turn has enabled them to collaborate with similar ag-biotech startups in the ecosystem as well as several other companies. While RNAissance has developed the most advanced proprietary insecticidal and ecologically friendly RNAi, TechAccel strengthens its ties with the St. Louis agriculture ecosystem through collaboration towards funding research to commercialize agri-innovations.

Check out the full story on Silicon Prairie News.

Classified Coworking

Secure Classified Shared Workspace Coming to The Globe Building

The launch of a SCIF was announced to the 3,000 attendees at the recent U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s GEOINT 2021 Symposium by Westway Services Group, LLC, placing St. Louis at the center of the national future of GEOINT. Westway’s 75,000 square foot multi-tenant SCIF is now underway, along with the just-completed dramatic 75,000 square feet of adjoining non-classified multi-tenant GEOINT space, in the 700,000 square foot Globe Building — just blocks away from the new $1.75-billion NGA/West HQ Campus.

Check out the full story by Dick Fleming on Entrepreneur Quarterly.

St. Louis Investors Fund Swiss Geospatial Startup

Cliff Holekamp, Cofounder, Managing Director and General Partner at Cultivation Capital told EQ, “We are working to establish St. Louis as an international center for the geospatial industry, and I expect that investments in global firms will help to establish that.”

Check out the full story by Jonathan Allen on Entrepreneur Quarterly.

T-REX Names Winners of New GeoSeed Grant Program

T–REX along with the National Security Innovation Network and Maryland-based Freedom Consulting Program, grants $100,000 to GEOZOO, Integration of Geospatial Features for Wireless Power Energy Informed Operating System, Mixed Reality Interface of Geospatial Data toward Efficient, Effective, and reliable Bridge Inspection, Building Foundations for Geospatial Research and Education infrastructure at Washington University in St. Louis and Rivers of Data Project; Real-time Balloon Remote Sensing of River Conditions, through the GoeSeed Grant program to boost St. Louis’ growing geospatial tech sector.

Check out the full story by Nathan Rubbelke on STL Inno.

Danforth Plant Science Center to Launch Geospatial Innovation Center

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center bags $1.5 million in spearheading the partnership with innovation hub BioSTL, innovation and entrepreneurship center T-REX. This is aimed towards connecting St. Louis’ strengths in geospatial tech and agtech to drive innovation and startup creation around precision agriculture technologies. Groups backing CATALYSTS’ and T-REX together, plan to program geospatial tech and agtech to give the much needed boost for the industry and in-turn boost economic growth in St. Louis. Aimed at fueling innovation and entrepreneurship through AgTech and locations sciences of the St. Louis region, the funds will be utilized to fund personnel, interns and proof-of-concept research.

Check out the coverage by Nathan Rubbelke on STL Inno and David Niklaus on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.