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If you’re looking to build a business, you want Barry Sandweiss on your side. A general partner at St. Louis-based venture firm Cultivation Capital, Sandweiss and the group’s general partners invest in entrepreneurs whom they believe will be the world’s next generation of innovative startup companies.
Sandweiss, a St. Louis native, knows what he’s doing. Alongside two of his childhood best friends, Sandweiss co-founded Lenders One, the largest mortgage banking cooperative in the US. In under ten years, the partners sold their company to Altisource Portfolio Solutions (ASPS). After the sale, Sandweiss served as SVP and a member of the global leadership team, helping the international company grow its market capitalization from less than $500 million to more than $5 billion. A true entrepreneur never rests; that’s why Sandweiss became an early investor in Cultivation Capital.
“We want entrepreneurs to get the capital and resources they need to build their businesses, right here. You shouldn’t have to leave this great city to be globally successful,” Sandweiss says. “I’ve heard St. Louis referred to as ‘a flyover city’ or ‘a great place for your business to expand somewhere else.’ Cultivation Capital is changing that. We make it possible for cutting-edge companies–large and small–to find capital here.”
EQ caught up with Sandweiss to talk investing in St. Louis.
Why have you chosen St. Louis to build and grow companies?
This is my home. It’s where I grew up and it’s where–after living in cities such as Madison, Tel Aviv and Chicago–my wife and I choose to live and raise our family. I want the rest of the world to see St. Louis the way I do: as a global economic leader. St. Louis is a historically great place to start a business. We are home to Anheuser-Busch, Boeing Defense, Enterprise, Scottrade. Tech giants like Twitter and Square have strong connections to this town. We are the home of ten Fortune 500 Companies, nationally ranked colleges, universities and hospitals, and quite honestly, Cultivation Capital is one of St. Louis’ great success stories. As a result of access to early funding, we are ensuring that other economic success stories have strong ties to St. Louis. This is how St. Louis can continue to be the type of world-class city that our kids and generations after will be proud to call home.
Bottom Line: St. Louis is the place I call home because it’s where my family lives, my business thrives and come on, where else in the country can you attend a major professional sports event and be greeted by the owner, and thanked for supporting the team? Let’s go Blues!
What do you like most about being involved with Cultivation Capital?
I have been on the front lines of a fledgling business. And I can tell you that the power of partnering with the right team can make the difference between failure and success. That’s why all of us feel a sense of obligation to facilitate mentorships, relationships and ultimately capital to the next generation of entrepreneurs. We see it as paying forward all of the advice and assistance we all so graciously received along our personal journeys to success.
What will Cultivation Capital look like in five years?
Funding attracts companies. That’s why Cultivation Capital is a catalyst for business growth. When a company comes to us seeking funding, they spend time in our city. They realize it’s a lot less expensive to build their companies here then to set up shop in the Valley or elsewhere. Also, this midwestern town offers a world-class employee base. The cost of living is reasonable; we have theatre, art, history and some of the best primary schools in the country. It’s a city to build a business and raise a family. With all of this working in our favor, and using our fund’s history as a guide, Cultivation Capital will continue to expand.
Just for fun, what are the things that get you through your day?
My wife, my kids, coffee and my iPhone–coffee and my iPhone are interchangeable depending on the day. I check the news and the weather every couple of hours, and I have to be able to grab a workout where I’m generally listening to either heavy metal or hard rock.
Read more about Cultivation Capital on EQ here.