St. Louis Startup Accelerator Guide

St. Louis is a hotbed for startup accelerator programs right now, each with features that stand out — such as a focus on a specific industry sector to an emphasis on inclusion.

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

We lay out the startup accelerator and startup incubator options for entrepreneurs based in St. Louis and those looking at what our city has to offer.

Illustration by Adam Bertels for EQ

Here’s your Guide to Startup Accelerators in St. Louis (downloadable PDF). Compare the programs offered below to find which works best for your company.

1. Ameren Accelerator

Announced in spring of 2017, the Ameren Accelerator is dedicated to growing Energy Tech startups. Formed as a partnership between Ameren, Capital Innovators and UMSL Accelerate (University of Missouri-St. Louis), the Ameren Accelerator will make its first investments in Fall 2017.

Find more on Ameren Accelerator here.

2. BioGenerator

BioGenerator is the investment arm of BioSTL, which was formed to create, grow and invest in bioscience startups in the St. Louis region.

Established: 2003

Who They’re Looking For: The startup must occupy the bioscience space (though this is broadly defined) and be in the pre-company through Series A stages, as well as either located in the St. Louis metro area or be willing to relocate. Stage-specific criteria include strong management team with sector experience; achievable milestones that reduce risk; the ability to raise capital from other investors alongside BioGenerator and knowledge of strategic need and market opportunities.

Graduates You Might Know: MediBeacon, BacterioScan, Galera Therapeutics

Dates to Remember: BioGenerator has no specific deadlines; applications and pitches for investment or space in the labs are accepted on a rolling basis.

Find more on BioGenerator here.

3. Capital Innovators

Capital Innovators is a 12-week program that provides tech startups with resources and connections including $50,000 in seed funding, mentorship from a pool of knowledgeable experts, educational and social events and the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and venture capitalist firms at the end of the program.

Established: 2011

Who They’re Looking For: Capital Innovators focuses on the IT and consumer product spaces. They look for competent, gritty and viable teams with a validated and differentiated concept, early traction, a straightforward value proposition and business plan, a large addressable market and the potential to scale rapidly.

Graduates You Might Know: LockerDomeBonfyre and Fluent

Dates to Remember: 
Capital Innovators accepts applications twice per year for Spring and Fall cohorts.
It also hosts an annual Demo Day.

Find out more on Capital Innovators here.

4. Prosper Women Entrepreneurs

Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) Startup Accelerator is a 12-week program designed for women business leaders who want to take their companies to the next level. It awards $50,000 for a negotiated equity position, opportunities for follow-on funding and connections to industry mentors and experts.

Established: 2015

Who They’re Looking For: Women-led startups—defined as “a company with at least one woman in a position of leadership and significant and meaningful equity”—with a focus on technology, healthcare IT and consumer products. The ideal applicant should have a working product and preferably customers and fulfill one or more of the following criteria: They’re creating the next big thing in technology; solving a problem in healthcare with technology; have revenue; or have a unique consumer-product company with a working product.

Graduates You Might Know: Appticles, Bandura Systems, SixPlus

Dates to Remember:
September-November: fall program
January-April: spring program
April: spring Demo Day

Find more on PWE Startup Accelerator here.

5. SixThirty

SixThirty‘s mission is to attract the most innovative and promising FinTech ideas, and work with like-minded corporate partners to mentor and grow them into great businesses. SixThirty provides up to $100,000 in funding and valuable mentorship and connections to some of the top financial services companies in the country. The SixThirty accelerator program runs for 12 weeks twice per year and focuses on business development and revenue acceleration for startups around the world. Corporate partners include Cultivation Capital, St. Louis Regional Chamber, UMB, RGA, EY, Twain and State Farm.

Established: 2013

Who They’re Looking For: SixThirty is looking for late-seed stage, B2B startups with a working product who are in the early stages of earning revenue. SixThirty companies generally fit into the following categories: payments and processing; security and fraud solutions; regulatory and compliance solutions; asset and wealth management; big data and analytics; and lending.

Graduates You Might Know: PromisePay, Fluent, BondIT

Dates to Remember:
SixThirty accepts applications twice per year for Spring and Fall cohorts.

Find more on SixThirty here

6. SixThirty CYBER

SixThirty CYBER is a venture fund and accelerator program that provides startups with up to $100K in funding, focused mentorship, and rapid connectivity to the top US financial, healthcare, and federal agency CISOs and execs. Spun from the success of SixThirty, SixThirty CYBER will have operations in St. Louis and Washington, DC, providing similar programming and opportunities specifically for cybersecurity startups with $10 million in investments over the next five years.

Established: 2016

Who They’re Looking For: Companies with an innovative information security technology that is currently getting traction in the market, either through POCs or with sales.

Graduates You Might Know: New this year–its inaugural cohort will be selected this fall.

Dates to Remember: SixThirty CYBER accepts applications twice per year for Spring and Fall cohorts.

Find more on SixThirty CYBER here

7. Stadia Ventures

Stadia Ventures’ accelerator is a 12-week intensive boot camp that helps established sports business startups get to the next level through the combination of up to an $100,000 equity investment and intensive mentoring. The accelerator also includes networking with the top sports business executives in the country, including senior leadership at teams, leagues, sponsors, manufacturers, marketers and business services.

Established: 2015

Who They’re Looking For: Established sports startups from anywhere in the world who have a product or service in market. They also must have traction, revenue between $100,000 and $3 million and somehow be in the sports space (tech, software, big data, fitness, nutrition, training, e-gaming, fantasy, apparel, wearables, etc.).

Graduates You Might Know: Rookies, Winning Identity, Senaptec, EZ Waves

Dates to Remember:
Stadia Ventures accepts applications twice per year for Spring and Fall cohorts.
It also hosts Demo Days.

Find more on Stadia Ventures here

8. The Pet Care Innovation Prize

The Pet Care Innovation Prize is a competition powered by Nestle Purina recognizing early-stage pet care companies who either have products or services for sale. One grandprize winner will receive up to $20,000 in cash and support, with the potential to partner with Nestle Purina. Up to five companies will receive up to $10,000 and will have the opportunity to pitch to pet care industry leaders, including senior Nestle Purina executives.

Established: 2016

Who They’re Looking For: Innovative pet care product and service companies who are selling or signing up customers now but would benefit by partnering and scaling up through new channels and cash.

Graduates You Might Know: Obe, PupPod

Find more on the Pet Care Innovation Prize here

9. The Yield Lab

The Yield Lab is a nine-month AgTech program that provides early-stage companies with $100,000 in funding, along with a workspace, mentors and a strong network supported by an agriculturally solid framework in St. Louis. The Yield Lab recently announced a second location for their accelerator in Galway, Ireland—a sister city to St. Louis.

Established: 2014

Who They’re Looking For: They invest in capable and competent management as much as technology. They also look to how they are able to provide value to the company from a non-financial standpoint.

Graduates You Might Know: S4, Arvegenix, Holganix

Dates to Remember:
The Yield Lab St. Louis accepts applications once per year in the fall.

Find more on the Yield Lab here

Previous articleEnterprise Innovation: Debbie Barta, Global Platform Lead at Simplify Commerce by Mastercard
Next articleOn Corporate-Startup Collaboration: Francis Chmelir of ITEN
Mary writes for EQ and previously contributed to ALIVE Magazine and worked in the digital marketing field as an account manager. A central Illinois native, she got her news-editorial journalism degree from the University of Illinois and then moved to St. Louis so she wouldn’t have to be around as many Cubs fans. Then she married one.