What’s Next for St. Louis With Tara Pham

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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. Tara Pham is CEO and Co-founder of CTY

Tara Pham is CEO and Co-founder of CTY.
Tara Pham is CEO and Co-founder of CTY.

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

Early-stage funding. Local enterprise, institutions, and government becoming our startups’ first customers. Diversity.

Which one would you focus on first?

St. Louis-based big business supporting local startups. Customer traction is what validates young companies. From there, funding and talent get easier.

What approach would you take to solving that?

Programming to connect large and mid-cap decision-makers to startups. Engaging, transparent procurement processes in our institutions and government.

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

In five years, I hope the startup community is as diverse as St. Louis itself. It won’t happen overnight, but conscious efforts today will get us there.

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

I like to imagine we’ll look back to now as “the good old days.” There’s this grit and uncorrupted passion. It’s still small, intimate, bootstrappy.

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.