What’s Next For St. Louis With Chris LeBeau

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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. Chris LeBeau is VP of Entrepreneur Services, Eagle Bank and Trust Co. 

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

What traction looks like based on a business model; that entrepreneurship is more than tech and bioscience; candid and clear feedback channels to guide startups.

Which one would you focus on first?

Widening the startup business funnel would have a broad impact. Not everyone will be a scientist or developer but he or she can still create something valuable.

What approach would you take to solving that?

Storytelling: Warby Parker, TOMS, Urban Chestnut, Lululemon, etc. A startup community that is exclusive to high-tech, high-growth, is the wrong play.

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

In the coming years, I hope fervor about our startup culture remains and the broader com- munity takes it more seriously. We all need to be all in.

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

Our giving nature. The willingness of everyone to meet entrepreneurs and help however they can.

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.