Startup Funding in St. Louis

Once you’ve sanity checked your million-dollar idea, the next challenge is to transform it into a million dollars. To do that, you’ll need to create a runway of capital to help you hire and build and see you through the rough patches too.

Competing in startup competitions will grant you access to a limited amount of “free money”, but to turn on the tap to serious money, you’ll have to plan on selling some of the equity in your company to startup accelerators and venture capital firms. Here’s a quick overview of all the venture capital firms and funds who are investing in the St. Louis region.

Equity-Free Capital

Have an idea–a product even–but need a little boost? There are a few grant funding opportunities available in St. Louis that are worth a shot.

$1,000 to 20,000

Startup Competitions

Startup competitions are an excellent way to perfect your pitch, validate your business model, establish some early-stage traction and potentially even attract partners, mentors, investors and press coverage. To learn more check out our guide to startup competitions in St. Louis.

$50,000

Arch Grants

Arch Grants gives away $50,000 in cash, pro-bono services, access to office space and other resources, to twenty companies every year. As a grant, the capital is non-dilutive.

Startup Funding

With their emphasis on a structured curriculum (typically 12 to 16 weeks) and mentorship, plus an investment of between $50,000 and $200,000 in startup capital, accelerator programs are a fantastic way to focus on growth. Luckily for startups, St. Louis has several different programs: check out our guide to St. Louis Startup Accelerators.

$50,000

BioGenerator

BioGenerator collaborates with portfolio companies with the goal of removing barriers to entrepreneurial success by investing and advising as well as providing critical physical infrastructure. Startup candidates must occupy the bioscience space and be in the ‘pre-company’ through ‘Series A’ stages. BioGenerator invests in companies located in the St. Louis metro area or those willing to relocate. They’re looking for companies with a strong management team with sector experience; whom are pursuing achievable milestones that reduce risk; with proven ability to raise capital from other investors alongside BioGenerator and demonstrate knowledge of strategic needs and market opportunities.

Capital Innovators

Capital Innovators is a 12-week program that provides tech startups with resources and connections including $50,000 in seed funding, mentorship from a pool of knowledgeable experts and, at the end of the program, the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalist firms. Through their nationally recognized seed program, Capital Innovators has been ranked as a top accelerator four years consecutively and featured in many high profile tech publications such as Entrepreneur, Forbes, CB Insights, Inc, and TechCrunch.

$100,000

Ameren Accelerator

The Ameren Accelerator is a partnership between Ameren Corporation, Capital Innovators and the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ UMSL Accelerate. Every year, the accelerator selects five to seven energy technology startup companies to participate in the program, with each receiving $100,000 in seed capital and mentorship from senior staff at Ameren.

Stadia Ventures

Stadia Ventures is an early-stage, sports- and esports-focused venture capital firm with an accelerator program. Acting as a sports innovation hub for entrepreneurs, industry partners and investors, Stadia Ventures’ accelerator is a 12-week intensive boot camp that helps established sports business startups get to the next level through the combination of up to an $100,000 equity investment, intensive mentoring and networking with top sports business executives across the nation, including senior leadership at teams, leagues, sponsors, manufacturers, marketers and business services.

The Yield Lab

The Yield Lab is a nine-month AgTech accelerator program that provides early-stage agriculture technology companies with $100,000 in funding, along with a workspace, mentors and a strong network supported by an agriculturally solid framework in St. Louis, Missouri (North America). By also offering AgTech startup accelerator programs in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Latin America); Dublin, Ireland (Europe) and Singapore (Asia Pacific); The Yield Lab enables entrepreneurs to sustainably revolutionize agrifood systems on a global scale and provides international business connections and expertise through The Yield Lab Institute.

$200,000

SixThirty

SixThirty is an early-stage venture fund that invests in enterprise technology companies from around the world building FinTech and InsurTech solutions for incumbents. Each year, SixThirty invests in 8-12 new companies and participates in select follow-on opportunities. Companies that receive investment from SixThirty are eligible for the SixThirty Go-To-Market Program, which entails curated meetings with corporate partners, hands-on training, mentoring, and networking opportunities with industry incumbents.

SixThirty CYBER

SixThirty CYBER is an early-stage venture fund that invests in information security companies from around the world building solutions for incumbents across industries. Each year, SixThirty CYBER invests in 6-10 new companies and participates in select follow-on opportunities. Companies that receive investment from SixThirty CYBER are eligible for the SixThirty CYBER Go-To-Market Program, which entails curated meetings with CISOs, hands-on training, mentoring, and networking opportunities with industry incumbents.

Angel Investors

Billiken Angels Network

The Billiken Angels Network (BAN) is part of the Entrepreneurship Program of the John Cook School of Business at Saint Louis University. The Billiken Angels’ tagline is “deals that make a difference” and that is the goal of the BAN: to identify and invest funds and expertise in those businesses that can make a difference to the economy and in the lives of the people living in the St. Louis region and elsewhere.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Geneoscopy; Greetabl; Coolfire Solutions; Kypha; Immunophotonics; Hey Let’s Train; Better Weekdays

Nvsted

Nvsted is the only Regulation Crowdfunding marketplace specific to the St. Louis region and it’s the first in crowdfunding platform in the nation that was organized by an economic development agency. The Nvsted online portal seeks to connect the region’s thriving community of startups to a wider range of capital, including investment opportunities for everyday investors.

Cohort companies you might recognize:

WellBeing Brewing Company; Pluton BioSciences;

St. Louis Arch Angels

The St. Louis Arch Angels are a group of accredited investors with diverse expertise and experience, who look to fund and support high potential startups ventures drawn from the St. Louis startup ecosystem and deliver outsized returns for their member investors and corporate partners.

The Arch Angels is a part of the region’s seed to later-stage equity capital continuum, targeting an investment range that is underserved by institutional venture capital firms. The Arch Angel network is an important component of the St. Louis region’s capacity to finance innovation emerging from local universities and research institutes, companies, and technology incubators.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Aisle411; Bonfyre; Appistry; Cardialen; Clearent; Capital Innovators; Galera Therapeutics; Pulse Therapeutics; Newsy; SwipeSum; Qstodian; Transactly; Rozzy Learning Co; KaloCyte; Viosera Therapeutics; StatRoute; Canopy Biosciences;

Seed Funding

Designed to accelerate private investment in Missouri-based startups and to increase the overall investment impact of that third-party investment, the state offers seed capital funding programs that match other capital investments to attract more private investors.

Helix Fund

Set up by the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, the $1.5 million Helix Fund co-invests with specific venture capital partners to promote the growth of bioscience and related technology businesses in St. Louis County. To be eligible for investment consideration companies must be referred by one of the Helix Fund partners. An eligible company that already has the support of one of their partners may also request funding directly from the Helix Fund, but only after the partner has committed funding to the specific opportunity.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Benson Hill Biosystems; Confluence Life Sciences; Apse; Arvegenix; Better Weekdays; Euclises Pharmaceuticals; Immunophotonics; MediBeacon; Plastomics; Pushup Social; S4 AgTech

Spirit of St. Louis Fund

The St. Louis Regional Chamber created the Spirit of St. Louis Fund which makes seed-stage investments in a broad spectrum of tech startups including financial technology (FinTech), healthcare, and agriculture technology (AgTech) that are active in St. Louis or in the greater Midwest.

The Spirit of St. Louis Fund aims to help successful early-stage companies survive a key-growth stage in the lifecycle of a startup: “the Valley of Death.” Initial investments are typically around $250,000 with opportunities for follow-on investment.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Summersalt; Clever Real Estate; iSite Media; Nanoguard Technologies; PopWallet; Bandura; Curate; Balto; Aggio

Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC)

The Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC) is a public-private partnership created by the Missouri General Assembly to promote entrepreneurship and foster the growth of new and emerging high-tech companies. The MTC’s Innovation, Development, and Entrepreneurial Advancement (IDEA) Funds deploy direct co-investments into high-tech startups headquartered in the state of Missouri.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Better Weekdays; Olio City; Appbase; Accuronix Therapeutics; Aptimmune Biologics; Adarza BioSystems; Arvegenix; Arch Oncology; Babyation; BacterioScan; BlueStrata EHR; Bandura; Bonfyre; Cardialen; Confluence; Canopy Biosciences; Edison Agrosciences; FinLocker; FocalCast; Gainsight; GirlsAskGuys; Greetabl; Gremlin; Immunophotonics; Hatchbuck; Juristat; Lean Media; Lockerdome; Lumate; MagBiosense; MediBeacon; MedSocket; Nanopore Diagnostics; Recursive Labs; Pushup Social; Pulse Therapeutics; RoverTown; SanusEO; Sparo; StoryUP XR; TopOPPS; Yurbuds; Tallyfy; Scopio; Newsy; Euclises Pharmaceuticals; CellARide; Acera Surgical

Venture Capital

When it’s time to open a round of funding, there are a few go-to venture capital firms that St. Louis startups turn to.

Arsenal Capital Management

Built around giving investors the opportunity to determine which companies they want (and do not want) to invest in, Arsenal Capital Management (ACM) aims to be a different type of venture capital firm.When selecting the companies to present to investors ACM focuses as much on the entrepreneur as the product, identifying emerging growth companies in St. Louis with the best ideas, and not limited ourselves to a specific industry or trend. They look to invest in founders who “demonstrate a true passion for what they have created and who believe that failure is not an option.”

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

PowerPost; Bonfyre; Synek; Aptimmune Biologics; Juristat; Appistry; Kypha; Newsy

Chaifetz Group

Launched by the billionaire Richard Chaifetz, the renowned neuropsychologist, and brains behind ComPsych Corporation, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, Chaifetz Group is a private investment firm that partners with carefully selected entrepreneurs, business owners and management teams to build and grow game-changing businesses. Although they are based in Chicago, this venture capital firm has a special affinity for St. Louis as the founder was educated at SLU and has made many investments in the city, including providing follow on funding to some of the most successful Arch Grants cohort companies via the STL Chaifetz Launch competition.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Juristat; KnowInk

Cultivation Capital

One of the most active venture capital firms in the St. Louis region, Cultivation Capital makes seed-stage and series A investments in companies whose ideas have the potential to transform the way we live and work. Cultivation Capital has backed over 100 companies since the firm was founded in 2012, and manages “a family of venture funds and accelerators” that invest in technology and life sciences companies, including the SixThirty, The Yield Lab and the Spirit of St. Louis Fund.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Lockerdome; Hatchbuck; Gainsight; Splice Machine; Noonlight

iSelect Fund

iSelect brings accredited and institutional investment to early stage ventures in St. Louis that are addressing critical global issues, in large markets with financially attractive business models. iSelect invests alongside regional venture capitalists and typically fund private companies led by successful entrepreneurs with proven expertise who are beyond the seed or start-up phase, but require more capital for further development. The iSelect investment portfolio includes ventures that work to cure cancer, fight fibrosis, improve agriculture, reduce costs of energy efficiency, streamline telecommunications, increase enterprise security, wrangle with logistics, and create new retail solutions.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Plastomics; CoFactor Genomics; Immunophotonics; Hatchbuck; Gremlin; Euclises Pharmaceuticals; Benson Hill Biosystems

Lewis & Clark Ventures

Lewis & Clark Ventures is a VC firm literally forged from the startup scene in St Louis as it was founded by former operators at Answers Corp, one of the largest exits in the region. Holding the conviction that innovation and entrepreneurial talent are plentiful between the U.S. coasts, Lewis & Clark Ventures invests in Series A stage companies throughout America’s heartland in sectors such as enterprise software, healthcare IT and agriculture technology and aims to become a trusted partner to every entrepreneur that assist in their journey towards scale and significance.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

OneSpace; SummerSalt; Adarza Biosystems; Benson Hill Biosystems

Series A-D Funding Rounds

For high-tech start-ups that succeed in achieving critical commercialization milestones with seed capital financing and need access to venture capital to grow, add new employees, and penetrate the marketplace.

Ascension Ventures

Ascension Ventures is a strategic healthcare venture fund with more than $800 million in capital under management. Ascension Ventures generates returns to their limited partners that help support their missions to provide care to the poor and vulnerable. As a strategic investor, Ascension Ventures adds value by sharing its portfolio companies’ solutions across its limited partner base, who are some of the most respected, values-driven nonprofit healthcare systems in the US. They also provide “expertise in strategy, operations, finance, sales, growth hacking, and connections to current business and industry experts… a specialist approach using extensive sector insight to identify and progress innovative enterprises.”

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

CoFactor Genomics

Leaps by Bayer

Formerly MonsantoGrowth Ventures, Leaps by Bayer is the venture capital arm of the Bayer Company. They invest in emerging teams and ideas that improve agriculture across technologies and geographies. This ranges from biotechnology to pharmaceuticals, and microbes to software, marketplaces and connected devices. Leaps by Bayer is “spearheading a movement to make paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences – targeting the breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the world for the better.”

Portfolio Companies you might recognize:

NewLeaf Symbiotics

RiverVest Venture Partners

RiverVest Venture Partners focuses exclusively on innovations in life sciences, providing practical advice and strategic leadership to help entrepreneurs drive early-stage companies forward. The RiverVest Venture Partners team has significant research, clinical, operational and investment expertise in Life Sciences and deep domain experience in biopharmaceuticals and medical devices. RiverVest funds and actively incubates life science companies, including through its Archer Seed Fund. The Firm also invests in select later-stage opportunities to diversify risk and maximize portfolio returns.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Cardialen; Wugen; Arch Oncology

Advantage Capital Partners

Advantage Capital‘s mission is to bring businesses, technologies and jobs to communities that have historically lacked access to investment capital, while also generating competitive returns for their investors. Advantage Capital has been an innovator in raising private institutional capital to invest in businesses located in states and communities that are underserved by traditional sources of risk capital.

Prolog Ventures

Prolog Ventures is a venture capital company that backs companies that aim to promote healthy living. They have two funds, but the Prolog Healthy Living Funds is closed to new investments. The open fund is Prolog Lonza Fund which is offered in partnership with Lonza Specialty Ingredients, a world leader in microbial control solutions. The fund invests in startups that promote effective hygiene everywhere, from hospitals and public areas to workplaces and homes.

Portfolio Companies you might recognize:

Benson Hill Biosystems; Veniti;

Thompson Street Capital Partners

Thompson Street Capital Partners (TSCP) is a St. Louis-based private equity firm focused on investing in founder-led middle-market businesses. Since inception in 2000, TSCP has acquired more than 150 companies in the Healthcare & Life Science Services, Software & Technology Services and Business Services & Engineered Products sectors and have managed more than $2.6 billion since being founded in 2000. TSCP partners with management teams to increase value by accelerating growth, both organically and via complementary acquisitions.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Tierpoint

Twain Financial Partners

Twain Financial Partners is an investment management firm located in St. Louis, MO with over $4 billion in assets under management within the public-private partnership sector. The firm works with a wide variety of investment types, specializing in tax credit, structured debt, and real estate transactions. Twain works closely with financial institutions, corporations, and high-net-worth individuals to structure and manage investments that offer both attractive economic return and social benefits.

Portfolio companies you might recognize:

Tierpoint