ITEN Releases Annual Tech Startup Report: 6 Takeaways

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At a launch party at T-REX tonight, ITEN released its 2015 Startup Tech Report offering encouraging information for the region and the tech startup world.

As a veteran organization of the St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem, ITEN provides unique programs to accelerate product development and assists with connections with talent, mentors, networking and funding opportunities for a diverse crowd of entrepreneurs.

The ITEN team, photo courtesy of ITEN.
The ITEN team took home a St. Louis Regional Chamber Arcus Award in 2015. Photo courtesy of ITEN.

“We’re intentional about providing opportunities for everyone and we don’t shy away from it,” says Francis Chmelir, Executive Director of ITEN. “We make sure everyone feels connected to the economic initiatives in the area and we nurture talent in all areas and from all backgrounds.”

Not only did 2015 mark a big year for the tech startup world, but also ITEN specifically. In January, it became a stand-alone non-profit entity, after operating under the Innovate St. Louis umbrella since 2008. 2015 also brought the retirement of ITEN’s founder and executive director, Jim Brasunas, who now serves as a board member. Francis Chmelir, who came to ITEN in 2012 as director of operations, first served as interim executive director in 2015 before officially assuming the executive director position in January 2016.

Since the initial publication of the annual ITEN report in 2012, St. Louis has built a reputation as a welcoming community to entrepreneurial-minded people for its openness and collaborative spirit.

“Entrepreneurs are going to pursue their ventures regardless of what’s available,” says Chmelir. “Mutually beneficial relationships, organizations and support companies help move startups along. They build upon themselves. They come here for the funding but also the community that has developed. Entrepreneurial development is a part of everyone’s professional development.”

ITEN surveyed 425 startups for this year’s report, up from 310 last year. You can find a digital copy online, but here is a peek at some of the report’s key takeaways:

Moving i to 2016, ITEN is structuring its programming around four technology clusters: Big Data/Analytics, Cybersecurity & Financial Services, Infrastructure, Software and Mobile Development and Healthcare IT. These clusters will enable corporations and startup founders to connect with the top talent for effective collaboration on business solutions. This reorganization will help as ITEN’s Corporate Engagement Program launches in 2016, allowing corporate partners targeted pathways to find companies working in their sector.

25 St. Louis-based companies raised at least $1 million dollars in 2015. This “Million Dollar Club” is made up of companies from various sectors, from FinTech companies like PromisePay to Tech companies like Aisle411 and Life Sciences-focused companies Bluestrata and Sparo Labs.

St. Louis’ startup workforce is steadily increasing. The number of full-time employees working in tech startups is up 36% from last year, while part-time employees is up 16%. “The energy is palpable, even intoxicating in this environment,” says Colleen Liebig, CEO of Plugged-In St. Louis. “Our embedded culture of growth and innovative spirit continues to breed new leadership.”

St. Louis tech startups are finding funding on their own. While money invested in St. Louis tech startup companies increased by more than $20 million, the amount of self-funding by St. Louis tech companies jumped 160% from 2014.

Eight companies from 2014’s Top Ten rankings make appearances on 2015’s list. Splice Machine jumped from second place to first this year, with newcomers VelociData and Bonfyre coming in sixth and 10th, respectively. ITEN also tracks St. Louis’ fastest-growing tech startups of each year, with GeoNumerical Solutions taking the top spot in 2015.

The amount of women-owned companies has actually decreased since last year. In 2014, 20% of St. Louis tech startups were women-owned, but in 2015 that number slipped to 16%. However, as 2015 brought Prosper Women’s Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator, we can expect to see that number rise again in 2016.

The report features a number of charts that break down data further, including one that shows 40% of our region’s founders are from the St. Louis metropolitan area and 20% of our founders graduated from a St. Louis area college. Our number of non-US founders has jumped from 8.4% in 2014 to 15% in 2015, and the 26-35 age group continues to be the top age group for founders.

Want to know more? Download a copy here.

This blog was created in collaboration with ITEN, a member of the EQ Partner Network.

This story was created in partnership with the organization listed in the label at the top of this post. We work with a curated list of partners we feel are aligned with EQ's mission to raise the visibility of and increase connectivity within St. Louis' startup ecosystem. Read more about partner content here.