Startup Connection

Startup Connection, St. Louis’ Largest Startup Event, Introduces Student Competition

Startup Connection, the St. Louis region’s annual event focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, happens Wednesday, November 16, during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The annual event draws between 1,500-1,800 people and features awards, booths and other programming. The event aims to bring together the larger local startup community “under one roof”.

Startup Connection
Startup Connection 2015 | Startup Connection gives St. Louis’s top startups the opportunity to present their companies to a packed house of entrepreneurs, investors, and other members of the innovation community. The event combines a startup showcase, resource fair, and is topped off with fast-paced pitch session. Photo via Startup Connection, by Jerry Naunheim Jr.


A main focus of the event is the Venture Showcase, where approximately 70 startups–who applied and were selected in advance–have the chance to showcase their business, products and/or technology. The companies have a booth, where they interact with attendees; they complete an elevator pitch to the audience; they are highlighted in various Startup Connection communications and materials and they are also in contention for awards given during the event.


On Friday, Startup Connection organizers announced it will introduce a new “Student Pitch-Off” competition at this year’s annual event. Modeled after Venture Showcase, the pitch competition is open to college undergraduate students who are in the process of building their startup. Pitch teams may consist of up to four students and businesses can be in any industry and anywhere in the startup process, from ideation to in-market.

“We are incredibly excited about this new competition at Startup Connection. Inviting students to enjoy in the festivities is a natural extension of our overall goals,” says Chris LeBeau, Startup Connection Host Committee Chair. “With the new Student Pitch-Off, students will gain real-world pitching experience that they’ll need as entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, it provides St. Louis with exposure to new ideas and the chance to meet its next generation workforce.”

Selected student teams will have the opportunity to deliver their three-minute pitch to a panel of judges at the event on November 16 at Washington University. The student teams will compete for up to $1,500 in cash prizes to help move their businesses forward. To apply, each team should complete this Google Form by October 28.

Startup Connection 2016 is organized by Arch Grants, BioSTL, Cortex Innovation Community, Eagle Bank and Trust Co., GlobalHack, ITEN, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, St. Louis Makes and the St. Louis Regional Chamber. Started in 2008 as an effort to connect IT startups with corporate talent, Startup Connection has grown to be a collaboration of the St. Louis entrepreneur support organizations, civic entities and investment community. This year included the addition of a Host Committee focusing on outreach, comprised of Eagle Bank and Trust Co., Anders CPA + Advisors, Cultivation Capital, Full Circle, and MasterCard.


Mentioned in this Article

Before selling the publication in 2017, Kelly Hamilton co-founded EQ with the ALIVE Media Group (where he was a co-founder too). After earning an M.A. in literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Kelly cofounded ALIVE in 2002. He believes becoming an entrepreneur can change not only the life of that entrepreneur, but also his/her community and the world, and that being able to tell stories of transformation like that is the best job one could have.

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