Grow your start-up with $50,000 -no strings attached. If that sounds too good to be true, there is just one catch: you have to move your business to St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis based non-profit organization, Arch Grants, is offering $50,000 of equity-free cash to qualifying start-ups, on the condition that they agree to pick up operations, move to St. Louis, and stay for at least one year.
In a 2014 press release, Arch Grants announced forty-six finalists that were chosen from four different countries. The companies that were reviewed ranged from education and consumer products to biomedical and technological services. Of the funders for the competition, Emerson, Monsanto and Peabody Energy were named. The selected finalists were then asked to participate in “Finalist Pitch Day,” where a panel of ninety judges reviewed each start-up’s video submission and business plan. Finally, Arch Grants announced twenty companies that were to receive the $50,000 grants, totaling $1 Million.
Arch Grants plans to award another twenty of those bursaries in 2015. Changing from an annual competition to a semi-annual competition, it now accepts applications on a rolling basis with roughly half of the available grants being dispersed in the fall and half in the spring. The Arch Grants website says this decision was made to provide feedback at a speed more akin to the world of the start-up. “Things move very fast in a start-up, and Arch Grants is keeping pace with this dynamic competition format.”
Dabble, an online marketplace for classes in the community, FreightGrid, a tech company which provides shipping and tracking companies with software to automate billing processes, and Lifepack, a producer of 100% biodegradable plates, are just three start-ups who received grants last year. In addition to $50,000 cash, the companies receive consulting and other accounting, legal, marketing, and human resources services. Arch Grants also introduces the companies to business leaders and creates a spot in a community for new entrepreneurs through its dedicated co-working spaces. The full portfolio of 2014 Arch Grants companies can be viewed here.
Since the first grants were awarded in 2012, Arch Grants has funded fifty-five companies. Fifty of them are still in operation, and an astonishing forty-nine of those have chosen to remain in St. Louis. Of the five companies that did not succeed, two founders went on to start their second companies in St. Louis. Collectively, these companies have created over 220 jobs. Capitalizing on the tech industry, which allows companies to be more mobile than ever, Arch Grants could prove to be a powerful player in urban planning by helping to bring immigration, diversity, and most importantly, more jobs to St. Louis.
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Credits: Images and data linked to sources.