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Making Downtown a safer place to live, work and play was the goal that brought together Downtown STL, Inc. and STL-based app startup SafeTrek. After an introduction by a mutual connection, Cultivation Capital co-founder Brian Matthews, both sides quickly realized it was a perfect collaboration opportunity.

SafeTrek, helmed by St. Louis native Zach Winkler, is an app aimed at, in a word, safety. If a user feels unsafe, whether they’re walking home alone or headed to their car after hours, they press and hold down a button in the app. When the button is released, the app prompts the user to enter a PIN. If the PIN isn’t entered within 10 seconds, SafeTrek’s emergency call centers dispatch police to the person’s location immediately. Simple.

Courtesy of SafeTrek downtown
SafeTrek is a personal safety app for iOS and Android. “Hold until safe”–once you release the button, enter your 4-digit pin or police will be notified of location and emergency.

“Downtown STL became interested in SafeTrek because it offers a solution to the often-voiced concern that residents and employees are sometimes uncomfortable walking to their cars alone at night,” says Missy Kelley, the organization’s president and CEO.

Downtown STL, Inc. teamed up with SafeTrek to pay the service fee for 4,000 users for six months, rolling it out to residents of Downtown and Downtown West first (that is, the Mississippi River to Jefferson Avenue, Cole Street to Chouteau Avenue). Any leftover registrations will be opened up to those who work Downtown.

“It’s nice to have a tool that is both portable and effective,” says Kelley. “We like the fact that people can take this wherever they go, within or outside Downtown, and know that they have a direct line to help if they are in need.”

Adding Value

Efforts undertaken to improve safety in a city generally require long-term planning and investment, but, as an app, SafeTrek requires no technology integration or personnel training. “Anyone with an iOS or Android device can use our application everywhere in the US,” says Winkler. “This allows organizations like Downtown STL, Inc. to quickly provide a solution for safety, which in the past, hasn’t been possible.”

In complementary efforts to bolster Downtown safety, Downtown STL Inc. has purchased camera technology for the area, supported bike officers Downtown by paying for their training, equipment and substation and recently announced an initiative to upgrade Downtown lighting with LED lights in an effort to prevent and solve crime.

“Missy and her team are on a mission to continually improve the Downtown area,” says Winkler, who along with the rest of the SafeTrek team, offices out of T-REX Downtown. But that wasn’t always the case.

SafeTrek began at Mizzou, but the startup operated out of California until its recent move to St. Louis this spring. “We always hoped we’d have the opportunity to move back to St. Louis. Once we connected with Cultivation Capital, we knew we’d found the right partner to bring SafeTrek home,” Winkler says. SafeTrek closed a $1.2M seed round led by Cultivation Capital (who invested $500,000) earlier this summer.

“SafeTrek’s mission is to keep people safe, and our hope is to contribute in a big way to making St. Louis a safe place for companies to grow, families to live, and young people to play,” says Winkler.

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Jackie's two biggest passions in life are writing and travel, and she is grateful to be able to combine both into a profession that she loves. A storyteller at heart (with a Masters in Counseling and Psychology), she enjoys digging deep, getting to know people and businesses, and helping them tell their unique stories.