This past week, we got to talk with some of the people behind ArchGrants. Tired of St. Louis being flyover country for tech folks travelling from New York to Silicon Valley, they want to encourage start-ups to move to St. Louis. Below is an interview with ArchGrants and their reasons why you should consider St. Louis.
1. What is the mission of ArchGrants and how does the program work?
Arch Grants was founded to make the country aware that St. Louis is actually a vibrant, forward-thinking city that contains a wealth of intellectual capital. We’re aiming to make sure that the best and brightest young entrepreneurs from across the country and internationally come to St. Louis to pursue their goals. In turn, they will help establish a vibrant, strong entrepreneurial ecosystem, exactly what the city needs to be competitive in the future.
We also hope, and strongly believe, that Arch Grants will succeed in changing the national perception of St. Louis – it’s either non-existent or downright negative, as it current currently stands – to one based on a view that the city is open for business, highly entrepreneurial, and a great place to start and grow companies.
Arch Grants provides entrepreneurs with a $50,000 non-dilutive grant, which, after accounting for all of the free and deeply discounted services provided, is actually the equivalent of over $100,000. Beyond greatly discounted (and we’re talking about costs around $4 a year in rent) commercial and residential space, Arch Grants recipients will receive business mentoring, have the chance to collaborate with renowned educators at Washington University, Saint Louis University and other metro universities, receive free legal and accounting services, including international visa assistance, and access to angel investors.
2. Who are some of the people involved with ArchGrants (VCs, well-known advisers, leaders of ArchGrants, etc.)
Arch Grants four founders are Jerome Schlichter, Partner at Schlichter Bogard & Denton, Zack Boyers, Chairman and CEO of US Bancorp Community Development Corp., Joseph Shchlafly, Senior Vice President at Stifel Nicolaus, and Robert Guller, Principal at Bandwith Exchange Buildings, LLC, all in St. Louis. Square Co-Founder Jim McKelvey is Head of the Advisory Board.
Additional advisors include Ken Harrington, Director of the Skandalaris centre for Entrepreneurship at Washington University, Jerome Katz, Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at Saint Louis University, and startup founders Sanjay Jain, President and CEO of LaserBrand, Brad Pittenger, CEO of Xiolink, and Matthew Porter, CEO of Contegix.
3. How are you different than Y Combinator, Tech Stars or other accelerators?
Most importantly, Arch Grants doesn’t take an equity stake in the companies it provides grants to. This enables the entrepreneurs to approach a next round of financing owning 100% of their company and minimizes the inevitable dilution moving forward.
And because it was established as a not-for-profit entity, Arch Grants can making grants as well as provide services for free.
There is also a community in St. Louis that is looking to support the growth of a startup ecosystem, outside of Arch Grants, that can provide additional opportunities for funding, networking and access to the talent necessary to help these businesses grow.
4. If a start-up wants to join ArchGrants, how do they apply?
For complete details and to submit an application for consideration, entrepreneurs should go to the Arch Grants website: http://archgrants.org/competition/apply-now.