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As the St. Louis region continues to cultivate innovative founders, ideas and companies, the need for additional funding sources grows. We asked 10 St. Louis-based venture and private equity firms to comment on the gaps they see for our startups, what they consider when making investments and how they view St. Louis’ current funding climate.

Carter Williams is President and CEO of iSelect Fund.

Photo courtesy of Carter Williams
Photo courtesy of Carter Williams

From your perspective, what gaps do you see in local funding for startups?

$500,000 to $2 million. We can bring more investors into the fold to help fund companies looking for that first stage of true venture investment. We believe the impact on St. Louis will be dramatic.

What are some of your organization’s current focuses or goals?

To have funded at least 30 companies and to have at least $50 million in investments in the iSelect portfolio by the end of 2016.

When looking at potential companies in which to invest, what are the top three factors you consider?

Management, management and management. We will not even look
at a deal if the core business is not well conceived to solve a problem that has a large addressable market.

What advice do you have for founders seeking capital right now?

Know your customer. The single most important thing that every business needs is customers and the best innovation is driven by listening to them.

Why should investors invest in St. Louis startups right now?

An opportunity to make money. A lot of people in STL would be wealthier today if they’d invested in Square, Twitter, or Answers.com. The next billion-dollar companies that people will read about in a few years are being created now.

This article was published in EQ’s Spring 2016 issue.

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Kelly is Cofounder/Managing Partner of EQ and Cofounder of ALIVE Media Group. After earning an M.A. in literature at Washington University in St. Louis, Kelly cofounded ALIVE in 2002. He believes becoming an entrepreneur can change not only the life of that entrepreneur, but also his/her community and the world, and that being able to tell stories of transformation like that is the best job one could have.