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As the St. Louis startup community continues to grow, the voices and concerns of its founders, grass roots organizers and support organizations need to be heard, perhaps now more than ever. What does St. Louis need to do now to support its startups? Where is it succeeding? We gathered community members to talk to us about our region’s current challenges and possible solutions. Crystal Martin is the Education & Community Engagement Manager for LaunchCoderGirl.

CrystalMartin
Crystal Martin is the Education & Community Engagement Manager of LaunchCoderGirl. | Photo courtesy of Crystal Martin

What are three issues, gaps or improvements that St. Louis’ startup ecosystem needs to address?

Lack of knowledge about the availability of free learning resources; access to great mentors and a diverse community of role models; rethinking how employers find and hire tech talent.

Which one would you focus on first?

Making sure people know about the awesome affordable educational tools—both online and in person—available right at their fingertips.

What approach would you take to solving that?

More information sessions and meetups. One of the meetups I’m most proud of is CoderGirl, a weekly gathering where women study with each other under the guidance of volunteer mentors.

What is your hope for St. Louis’ startup future?

In the next few years, I hope the face of the tech talent pool in St. Louis is more diverse. I hope to see a wide variety of people with varying backgrounds and experiences joining the tech community. 

What do you love about the current state of STL’s startup scene?

Its accessibility. You know that if you have an idea, there is a community of people somewhere that will at least listen and help you get started making that idea a reality.

This article was published in EQ print issue 1, Fall 2015.

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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.