Kiley Summers

“The St. Louis startup ecosystem has been instrumental for us at SpenDebt over this past year – there are so many resources and groups in this area, like ITEN, Venture Café, 1 Million Cups and others who have supported our growth,” said Kiley Summers, founder and CEO of SpenDebt.

St. Louis is celebrating the growing momentum and recognition of its burgeoning startup scene with the first-ever St. Louis Startup Week at the Cortex Innovation Community from November 1-9. The event celebrates the innovation and entrepreneurship in the community and aims to connect local entrepreneurs with the many support resources the St. Louis region offers.

“Our startup community makes the St. Louis region a more vibrant and creative place for students, employees, families and businesses and builds a stronger and more diverse economy,” said Phyllis Ellison, vice president of partnerships and program development for Cortex.

“We are excited to establish long-term connections for local entrepreneurs and small business owners to the many support resources available to them and raise awareness about our vibrant startup community.”

The region’s growing startup scene was ranked second on Forbes’ 2018 list of top rising cities for startups and named the city with the most women entrepreneurs in the U.S. by SeekCapital.com in 2019.

With many events free and open to the public, St. Louis Startup Week features programming around four key tracks to help entrepreneurs connect with the local startup community.

The first track, startup resources, provides opportunities for small business owners and entrepreneurs to connect with each other and local startup resources. The second track focuses on co-working spaces, allowing entrepreneurs to test drive some of St. Louis’ more than 25 co-working spaces. The third track is skill building, giving those interested in working as part of the startup community the chance to learn valuable business skills from organizations including CyberUp, Launch Code, Claim Academy and more. The final track is STEMSTL Week, which features experiences for the next generation of entrepreneurs and helps educators and students K-12 learn more about entrepreneurship.

Through St. Louis Startup Week, the hope is that businesses will not just startup, but also take advantage of the low cost of living, resources, vibrant culture that can help them stand out, and ultimately stay and keep their business here. 

A recent report by nonprofit MOSourceLink found that Missouri startups created 44,535 new jobs in 2018. Many of those jobs were created by local St. Louis entrepreneurs like Kiley Summers, founder and CEO of SpenDebt, a financial technology company that helps individuals pay off debt through micropayments.

“The St. Louis startup ecosystem has been instrumental for us at SpenDebt over this past year – there are so many resources and groups in this area, like ITEN, Venture Café, 1 Million Cups and others who have supported our growth,” said Summers.

“We have been able to earn non-dilutive funding in St. Louis as an Arch Grant recipient in 2018, a member of the 2019 Capital Innovator Accelerator program, and even winning the MAC Tank pitch competition. We’ve received so much support from the St. Louis startup community, and have found ways to support other local entrepreneurs through mentoring at MultiPass Ventures, speaking on different panels like the Inclusive Entrepreneurship Roundtable, and sharing our story to inspire others.”

For more information and to view the St. Louis Startup Week full schedule of events, visit www.stlouisstartupweek.com.

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