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Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global business network founded in 1987, released its latest report on US and global entrepreneurism in March of 2015. Released every six months, the reports reflect the mood of the most up-to-date entrepreneurism ecosystem, gauging items from willingness to start a business in the current economy to increase in full-time staffing.
Based on these reports, startups are receiving more of what they need: funding. In March, 36 percent of entrepreneurs reported increased access to capital, an increase from six months prior, when 32 percent of entrepreneurs had reported an increase in access to funding opportunities. Pair that figure with an “overwhelmingly optimistic” profit outlook—83 percent of entrepreneurs are foreseeing capital surpluses in the next six months—and the fact that 90 percent of entrepreneurs report a willingness to start a business in the current economic environment, now seems to be the right time to get started in small business.
Show Me State Shows The Money
Arch Grants agrees with these findings and is creating funding opportunities right here in St. Louis. The nonprofit organization—which has accelerated economic and community development through entrepreneurship and philanthropy in St. Louis since 2012—awards $50,000 equity-free grants and pro-bono support to early-stage companies that win the Arch Grants Global Startup Competition and bring their companies to STL. Through their competition, which has connected 66 companies with $3.65 million in funding, Arch Grants is propelling the St. Louis community forward, one innovative startup at a time.
New this year, Arch Grants will be hosting two annual competitions, a departure from years previous when 20 recipients (or 15, as was the case for the very first competition) were announced at the end of one annual competition. The eleven companies starting class July 15 as the Summer Cohort are just the first recipients this year. By the time the Winter Cohort starts class on Nov. 12, the organization plans to name 60 finalists in its competition and to award at least 20 grants.
The number of grants awarded each year may remain the same, but this change signifies big opportunities for these early-stage companies. Entrepreneurs will now receive valuable feedback on their applications much more quickly, giving them the opportunity to work on their business plans and potentially apply to the Global Startup Competition twice in the very same year. Even the finalists that don’t take part in an Arch Grants cohort have increased access to funding opportunities, with industry experts weighing in on applications and advising on any future developments needed to make the company attractive to investors.
The organization is also keeping in mind how they distribute their grants, both in terms of diversity of management and industry. At this summer’s cohort announcement on June 18, Executive Director Ginger Imster noted that nine out of the 11 startups were minority- or woman-led organizations. But the early-stage companies themselves hail from different backgrounds and experiences—bringing tech and consumer products to the St. Louis ecosystem.
Though the summer companies were just announced, the winter application deadline is fast approaching: Early applications are due July 10 and the final application deadline falls on Aug. 30, with finalist pitch days taking place throughout fall. To learn more about Arch Grants, the Global Startup Competition and the 2015 summer cohort, head to archgrants.org.
This blog was created in collaboration with Arch Grants, a member of the EQ Network.