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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. Travis Sheridan is the Founding Executive Director of Venture Cafe Foundation- STL.

Travis Sheridan is the Founding Executive Director of Venture Cafe Foundation- STL.
Travis Sheridan is the Founding Executive Director of Venture Cafe Foundation- STL.

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

Stop trying to become the next <fill in perceived cool city here>. Knowing when a startup needs hospice. More mentors who are serial entrepreneurs.

Which one would you focus on first?

The constant external comparisons. Learn from the applicable best practices; however, we just need to strive to be a better STL tomorrow than today.

What approach would you take to solving that?

Celebrate small wins. Recognize incremental improvements toward success. Yesterday we only had x, but today we have 2x. Tomorrow we will have 2.5x.

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

In the next few years, I hope that our ecosystem is distinguished from others by our inviting, innovative, collaborative, diverse and inclusive community.

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

The ignorance of youth. We are still a young scene and we can make mistakes that are part of growing up. Tomorrow we’ll make better mistakes.

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.