After Two Years, St. Louis’ T-Rex Gets Even Bigger

T-Rex, St. Louis startups, startup space

Tyrannosaurus Rex is undisputably one of the biggest dinosaurs in the world. So naturally, St. Louis’ startup hub and incubator, called T-Rex, is just as large.

The T-Rex space in downtown St. Louis already houses 70 startups, five funding and mentoring groups, including the 630 Accelerator, as well as space for entrepreneurial and startup focused events. We’ve covered T-Rex startups quite a bit here at Nibletz.

Now, as the space celebrates its second year and milestones like growing from 6 startups to 70 startups, they’re naturally ready for a big expansion. On Tuesday they announced that they would be acquiring the Lammert Building at 911 Washington Avenue, also in downtown St. Louis, giving them a whopping 160,000 square feet for startup and entrepreneurial greatness.

“Our move to the Lammert Building will provide us with 160,000 sq/ft of space, which we need to continue fostering St. Louis’ entrepreneurial activity and bring more startups to the area,” said Jay De Long, Vice President of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and T-REX Board Member. “A more permanent home will also give us a focal point for new activities that were described in the recent Regional Entrepreneur Initiative.”

“The building will provide opportunities for us to deepen and broaden our mission, which will include a strong focus on digital design,” said Kevin Farrell, Senior Director of Economic Housing and Development for the Partnership of Downtown St. Louis.

As a sponsored project of the City of St. Louis, the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, and the St. Louis Regional Chamber, T-REX was able to fund its acquisition and renovation of the Lammert Building through a variety of partnerships.

The funding support includes New Markets Tax Credits allocated by St. Louis Development Corporation, which raised a $1.7 million investment by St. Louis-based U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation. The New Markets Tax Credits financing enabled T-REX to acquire the building and maintain its ability to provide stable, low-cost, and flexible membership to startup companies. These funds will also provide initial funding for tenant improvements.

“Many non-profits and incubators operate with a debt that hinders or slowly kills their mission,” said Joe Reagan, President & CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “Similar to the first round of a capital campaign, these tax credits enable T-REX to grow expeditiously and still fulfill its purpose of providing below market-rate space and services to startup companies.”

“T-REX is a game-changer in attracting entrepreneurs to the downtown St. Louis region,” said Otis Williams, Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation. “Because we think that T-REX is a great approach to business development in our area, we have been supportive of its mission with creative financing opportunities, and we’ll continue to support it in the future.”

They plan on starting renovation on the building immediately and plan to move into the building in early 2014.

Find out more about T-Rex here.

T-rex image at top:

Pilot Jim McKelvey Continues Empowering People With An Individual Accelerator For Programmers

Jim McKelvey, LaunchCode, Startup, St. Louis startup

(img: Flickr)

How the death of a St. Louis Pizza Delivery Boy Sparked Jim McKelvey’s Latest Startup:

I got to spend a lot of quality time on a 1:1 phone interview with Square co-founder Jim McKelvey yesterday. After bumping into McKelvey at numerous events and talking startups or otherwise shooting the shit, I finally had time to dive in with one of St. Louis’ biggest startup community advocates.

We wasted no time during the interview call, so I went right for the “how does a glass blower get into startups, investing and now being a catalyst for the St. Louis startup community?” McKelvey explained that so many people are eager to give just one label to others, when in fact there are multiple labels for just about everyone. McKelvey is a professional, now hobbyist, glass blower. Blowing glass is something he enjoys when he can now, and he hasn’t been a professional glass blower since 1992.

McKelvey was formerly trained as an engineer and making things is something he’s great at. Over the years, one of his other hobbies, flying, has filled a lot of that time that he had for glass blowing, adding “pilot” to the list of labels attached to him.

We were supposed to talk about Six Thirty, the new St. Louis accelerator specifically for fintech (financial tech) startups. McKelvey is one of the co-founders of the Six Thirty accelerator. With companies like ScottTrade, MasterCard, and Wells Fargo (plus many more) based in St. Louis, a fintech accelerator is a natural fit. They even have a fintech fund in St.Louis called FinServe Tech Angels, which is headed by Kyle Wellborn.

McKelvey points to the launch of Square for the reason there was a need for a fintech accelerator

“We were able to build the technology for Square in 3 weeks. We were running transactions in no time. It took 18 months though to get legal,” McKelvey told me. He firmly believes that anyone with a great team, a good idea, and money behind them can launch a product to market. Launching a financial product is a whole other can of worms. Insurance regulations, PCI compliance, licensing and other legal hurdles stand in the way of a great startup just going for it with a financial product.

Through a cohort-based model, 4 companies will get the mentorship, training and connections they need to hopefully see their fintech startups get to market.

That was the quickest part of our talk, though. McKelvey is actually knee deep in two current working projects. One is Six Thirty; the other is still an “experiment,” but one that he is truly passionate about. LaunchCode is something that truly seems to fulfill McKelvey’s calling right now.

Jim loves teaching, and he loves empowering people. We briefly talked about how now you can walk the streets of Baltimore before a Ravens game or Cincinnati before a Reds game, and see the street vendors accepting credit cards through Square. “I love those kinds of stories” McKelvey said. Those stories show Square has been able to empower people to take their businesses to another level.

LaunchCode is another way people can get to another level.

“There’s only one industry I’ve ever seen where you can go from zero knowledge to a $100,000 salary in one year, and that’s programming,” McKelvey said. There are tens of thousands of folks out there who would absolutely agree.

You need to be driven, have a little bit of scientific or computer knowledge and want to learn, besides the technological tools like a computer. If you have those things you can learn to program.

Throughout his career McKelvey has seen all types of people learn to code and become legitimate programmers. Of course there are the high school computer science misfits, the college graduate engineers, and even people like a WalMart maintenance man who taught himself to code on the side. McKelvey knows that one personally. “He literally mops the floors at a local Walmart and he’s taught himself to code, and he’s good at it”.


Before diving into what LaunchCode is, it’s important to know how McKelvey, who’s admittedly been “rich” for decades, got started with this latest project.

This story begins with pizza, but not in the way you would think with startups.

A friend of McKelvey’s had brought his family over to the US for a better life from Russia. That dream turned tragic for that family in May of 2012 when their 22-year-old son Daniel Maksimenko was shot and killed delivering a pizza in St. Louis. The young man was shot and killed before he even got out of the car, “and for–what–maybe $60,” McKelvey said.

This story has been eating away at McKelvey for quite some time. He didn’t understand why anyone would do something like this. It’s not like the pizza guy carries a lot of cash, and there obviously wasn’t time for an argument.  McKelvey came to the realization that these people weren’t crazy. They did it because they thought they had no other hope.

In the same breath McKelvey points out that there are over 5,000 programming jobs available in St. Louis right this second, but the system is flawed and LaunchCode is changing that.

“When Boeing announces they are bringing 700 jobs to St. Louis, they aren’t bringing 700 jobs. They are bringing 700 job openings,” he points out.

LaunchCode doesn’t have an exact label just yet, and besides everything has multiple labels (see above). I likened LaunchCode to an individualized accelerator for programmers, and McKelvey liked that description.

LaunchCode is bridging the gap between the number of “job openings” and the talent pool. You see, most companies (and when we say most it’s most) require two years experience before hiring a programmer. Schools are churning out programmers left and right, and thousands of people are teaching themselves how to code through online courses and other study at home classes. So when these people are finished learning, they have nowhere to go because they don’t have that experience.

Through LaunchCode Mckelvey has teamed up with 100 businesses in St. Louis ranging from the city’s corporate flagships like ScottTrade, Energizer, and Entreprise, to St. Louis startups like aisle411.

“If you take those 100 startups, just two of them were hiring programmers with less than 2 years experience,” McKelvey said. The other 98% basically just swap employees around.

As an example, McKelvey explained “Say Boeing is working on a new plane and they need developers. They put out a call to their HR channel and recruiters recruit developers from Ralston Purina and Enterprise.” Then those companies hire away someone from another company and so on down the line. New people weren’t put to work; people were just moved around.

The problem has been apparent and glaring at people for decades, and now LaunchCode is fixing it.

McKelvey has convinced these 100 companies both big and small to take a crack at an experiment in peer programming that worked well for Square.

New programmers sign up for LaunchCode. Candidates need to have the basic skills, be eager to learn, take criticism well and a handful of other attributes outlined here. Nothing too hard, really.

While in the program, the new programmer will be paired with an experienced programmer, “mentor” on location with a participating company. During that time the programmer will make $15 per hour and gain a vast knowledge of programming in the real world.

“While we were paying double for one output at Square, we were getting a better quality product,” McKelvey said of peer programming. “When you pair an experienced programmer with a junior programmer, the junior programmer picks up quickly.”

Then you have two experienced programmers.

The program (like an accelerator) lasts 2-3 months. After that time the participating companies will evaluate the new programmer through a more equal lens and decide whether to hire them on full time. These companies all have programming openings, and the candidate will have then spent 2-3 months in their company, in their company culture, and with their company work flow. It seems that staying employed with the company will be pretty easy.

LaunchCode is disrupting the way talent is being hired. McKelvey reminded me several times that LaunchCode is still an experiment. He’s hoping with some success to evaluate LaunchCode to see if expansion vertically, horizontally or both is the next step. In the mean time many have their eyes on what’s going on in St. Louis.

Check out LaunchCode here.







Jim McKelvey image: Bob Lee, Flickr

St. Louis’ Capital Innovators Opens Up Applications For Spring 2014 Cohort

Capital Innovators, St.Louis startups, startup accelerator

St. Louis Capital Innovator’s accelerator program has opened up applications for their Spring 2014 program. This will be the 6th cohort to go through St.Louis’ highly successful program.

Capital Innovators is backed by the most influential people in the St. Louis startup ecosystem, including Jim McKelvey who is firmly planted in the startup community. We just reported last week on the inaugural cohort at the new SixThirty accelerator, an accelerator for fintech startups that takes its name from the height and width of St. Louis’ famous arch.

Capital Innovators provides $50,000 in seed funding for their startups and also provides them with project-based mentorship, collaborative learning, and more. The entire St.Louis startup community gels around each class in the Capital Innovators accelerator program, which is housed at the T-Rex startup, co-working, and incubation space downtown.

Our good friends at Bonfyre, who have provided the engagement app for our Everywhere Else national startup conferences, is an alumni of Capital Innovators. LockerDome, who’s founder Gabe Lozano was a big hit earlier this year at Everywhere Else conference in Memphis is also a graduate of Capital Innovators as are BidRazor, Adfreq, and many more.

Applications are being accepted through November 15th, and the cohort will be announced in January. Meanwhile, the current Fall 2013 cohort will graduate in December. We’ll be there to cover all the action. You may want to hurry up and apply now, before I decide to go and apply. Here’s the link.


St. Louis’ Six Thirty Accelerator Announces Inaugural Class

Six Thirty, Accelerator, FinTech, Jim McKelvey, St. Louis startup, Accelerator

The new fintech startup accelerator in St. Louis, backed by Cultivation Capital and Square’s Jim McKelvey, held an event on Wednesday evening to announce their first startup cohort. McKelvey is joined by Hal Gentry, serial entrepreneur and general partner at Capital Innovators, and Joe Reagan CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, as co-founders for the accelerator called Six Thirty which takes its name from the height and width of the St. Louis Arch.

They received over 100+ applications from all over the world from startups with a financial element. They successfully weeded out the group to just four. Here are the companies in the first session, which officially starts Monday.

Hedgeable, Matthew Kane and Michael Kane
Hedgeable is a next generation Vanguard, providing low cost, risk managed investment products in response to the Financial Crisis.

MiiCard, James Varga
Through a patented process, miiCard leverages access to online financial accounts to verify an individual’s identity beyond a photo ID through a simple process that occurs completely online in five to ten minutes.

Upside, Tom Kimberly
Upside uses innovative financial science and beautiful user interface to provide goal-based investment management to mass affluent young professionals.

XYverify, Elliot Klein
XYverify enables consumers, merchants and financial institutions to reduce costs and prevent fraud via a mobile authentication platform.

McKelvey is also spearheading another new startup related effort in St. Louis called Launch Code.


Bonfyre Is Back As The Official App For Everywhere Else Conference, And We’ve Got Two Tickets To SXSWi To Give Away

Bonfyre, St. Louis startup, Everywhere Else Cincinnati, startup conference, SXSWBonfyre, is back as the official app for the Everywhere Else Conference. Everywhere Else Cincinnati kicks off Sunday night with a welcome party open to the public.

St. Louis startup Bonfyre is a social engagement app that allows you to share thoughts, updates, information, and photos across a closed social network and then outward to your normal social channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

At Everywhere Else Memphis last February we used Bonfyre, and the attendees of the conference stayed in the Bonfyre and kept interacting well into the summer.

Bonfyre will allow entrepreneurs, startup founders, investors, panelists, and startup support to keep up with all the conference go-ers in the event’s own channel. In addition to Everywhere Else, Bonfyre was also been the official app for last year’s PowderKeg conference, OneSpark in Florida, and even for St. Louis Rams games.

Bonfyre keeps things going in an easy-to-understand and engaging platform. For Everywhere Else Cincinnati we’ll have two different Bonfyre’s. O will be limited to information about the conference, scheduling, maps, and important information from the conference staff. The other will be the Bonfyre the entire group will use. That’s where the fun begins.

Bonfyre and Nibletz have teamed up to give away a pair of SXSWi 2014 passes (passes only) for March 2014. The interactive passes will give you access to the entire interactive conference tract at SXSWi and many of the awesome parties. The passes have a value of over $1400! We will be looking for the most engaged and interactive Bonfyre user throughout the course of the conference.

So go download Bonfyre in the iTunes app store or the Google Play Store and then scan the QR Codes below to get into the Bonfyre’s. We’ll see you this weekend.

Use this QR code to get into the Info Bonfyre for Everywhere Else Cincinnati:


Use this QR code to get into the Engage Bonfyre for Everywhere Else Cincinnati:



St. Louis Startup Aisle411 Raises $6.3M Series A

Aisle411, startup news, funding, St. Louis startupThe St. Louis startup that’s changing the in-store experience for everyone has just closed a massive series A round. Aisle411 is an interactive indoor mapping startup for grocery stores and other places where you need to locate things on an indoor map.

The St. Louis based startup has raised $10M since its launch in 2008.

This latest round of funding came from Google’s Don Doge, Plug & Play Ventures of Silicon Valley, Cultivation Capital and St. Louis ArchAngels. In addition to the funding the company already has some big partnerships in place including one with Walgreens, Home Depot, Schnucks, and Stop and Save.

While people immediately recognize the need for Aisle411, the company is still working on aggressively building scale and going global.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in demand from the retail market for our services,” Nathan Pettyjohn, founder and CEO of aisle411, said in a statement. “The investment round allows us to aggressively scale to a growing list of global retail partners.”

You can check out Aisle411 here.;


Square’s Jim Mckelvey Spearheading Another St. Louis Tech Effort

Jim McKelvey, St. Louis startups, LaunchCode, developerAlthough based in Silicon Valley, Square’s co-founder Jim McKelvey continues to make waves in the St. Louis startup community. Just last week we reported on a new financial services startup accelerator called SixThirty. McKelvey is one of the founding partners of that accelerator.

He is also very active in Cultivation Capital and Arch Angels, St. Louis’ premier angel network. He sits on the board for both LockerDome and Bonfyre, two prominent St. Louis startups that we’ve covered a bunch here at Nibletz.

Next Tuesday McKelvey will hold a press conference in St. Louis to announce the complete details of his latest project called LaunchCode. McKelvey leads a group of St. Louis entrepreneurs in a collaborative effort to increase the region’s development talent base and strengthen the burgeoning startup and tech community.

Many coders possess great talent but lack the experience necessary to land a job. LaunchCode helps new coders overcome this hurdle by pairing them with experienced developers in companies that have job openings. Through pair programming – a system used in Silicon Valley involving two programmers, two keyboards, and one monitor – the new developer receives training and experience until he or she is up to speed and receives a full-time job. More than 50 St. Louis companies of all sizes, from Fortune 500 corporations to thriving startups, have already signed up. Employer companies include World Wide Technologies, Monsanto, Savvis, Enterprise, Build-a-Bear, Lockerdome, Express Scripts, and more.

McKelvey is joined by Chris Sommers (co-founder of Givver and Pi Pizzeria), Dan Lohman (co-founder of Pushup Social, and Lab 1500), and Chris Oliver (Lead Developer of Givver) on LaunchCode’s founding team.

With McKelvey’s multiple interests in the St. Louis startup community, fueling an effort to teach more developers is a natural step for the St. Louis startup community.

You can find out more about LaunchCode here




St. Louis Gets New Financial Startup Accelerator SixThirty, Named After The Gateway Arch

Six Thirty, St. Louis startup accelerator, startups, cultivation capital

The infamous St. Louis gateway arch is both 630 feet high and 630 feet wide. That’s where Cultivation Capital and The St. Louis Regional Chamber came up with the name for a new startup accelerator aimed at financial services startups.

The new SixThirty accelerator will invest $100,000 into four financial services startups twice a year (8 total). Those startups selected will go through a four month accelerator program from St. Louis’ proven leaders in the startup acceleration space. In addition to the typical startup accelerator training, Six Thirty will focus on offering mentors and a curriculum focused around the things financial services startups needs.

St. Louis is rich in financial services companies. Edward Jones, Scottrade, Stifel Financial, Wells Fargo Advisors, and US Bancorp CDC all call St. Louis home. The St. Louis financial services sector currently employs approximately 85,000 people—and is growing rapidly.  Employment in financial investment services expanded by an incredible 84% between January 2007 to September 2012 in St. Louis, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.  During the same period the four largest financial services metros lost employment, according to data cited from Moody’s Analytics.

The founding team of the SixThirty accelerators is made up of three individuals with deep ties to the St. Louis startup scene:

  • Jim McKelvey, co-founder of Square, and general partner at Cultivation Capital
  • Hal Gentry, serial entrepreneur, and general partner at Capital Innovators
  • Joe Reagan, president and CEO of the St. Louis Regional Chamber

“We saw a real opportunity to leverage our regional strengths as a financial hub,” Jim McKelvey said in a statement.  “Between the growth capital, the experience of our founding team, and the connections with the financial services community, SixThirty will be a welcome addition to the St. Louis startup scene.”

“This is a particularly important initiative, considering the local strength of the financial services industry in St. Louis and how they strive to constantly improve their services,” said Daniel Ludeman, CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors and Chair of the St Louis Regional Chamber, and founding co-chair of the Chamber’s Financial Forum. The Greater St. Louis Financial Forum is charged with accelerating economic development throughout the region in the financial and information services sector.

The Chamber is making a three year financial commitment to SixThirty.  Reagan, referencing the recent launch of the Regional Entrepreneurship Initiative, said “We were inspired by the Initiative’s call to action and thought this was a great way to make an impact in a hurry.”

You can find out more about Six Thirty or apply to their first cohort here at




Triangle Startup Factory Considering St. Louis For Next Location

St. Louis startups, Triangle startup factory, Chris Heivly, startup eventTechstars, Dreamit Ventures, and even Bizdom are successfully running accelerator programs in multiple states. It’s a growing trend with accelerators that do well with their original programs, typically in their hometown.

The Triangle Startup Factory has been very successful over the past few years. It’s one of the more popular startup accelerators everywhere else. The program had its first cohort in the fall of 2012, and this spring they completed their third class. The Triangle Startup Factory infuses each company with $50,000 in seed capital and hands on mentorship from their network of active angels, successful founders, and experienced technology experts. This combination is often a recipe for a stellar program.

Chris Hievly, the co-founder off Mapquest and the co-founder and Managing Director at the Triangle Startup Factory will be in St. Louis on Wednesday for an evening startup and networking event called Plug in2 STL, according to The regional tech blog, founded by entrepreneur Edward Domain, says that Hievly is highly considering St. Louis for his next accelerator program, and those with creative startup ideas should attend the event to help court Hievly and the startup factory.

The free event also includes a tour of the new @4240 startup space. If you’re in the St. Louis area, you can get free tickets by following this link.


This huge national startup conference in Cincinnati is encouraging startups to “start where u are”


Cory Booker And Terry McAuliffe Tap St.Louis Startup Givver For Campaign Fundraising

Givver, St.Louis startup, Cory Booker, Terry McAuliffe


We already know that Cory Booker, Newark NJ Mayor and Senate candidate, is one of the most socially connected and startup friendly civil servants. He ranks up there on the Nibletz’ list with DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel. To date Booker has over 1.4 million followers on Twitter and uses the social platform daily to keep up with his constituents.

Booker has been looked upon as the next Barack Obama. He’s well loved across New Jersey for his accessible approach to his citizens. He regularly responds to people on social media. It was well documented that during Hurricane Sandy, Booker invited residents into his home to wait out the storm.

Booker is now running for the US Senate in a race many say he has a good shot at winning. He is running for the seat left vacant when Frank Lautenberg died in office earlier this year.

givverBooker has reportedly raised $5 million dollars to date, and as with any campaign any donation big or small is always welcome. To make it easier, Booker was looking for a platform that would enable his Twitter followers to easily donate to his campaign via Twitter. The platform he chose for this mission was St. Louis startup Givver.

Givver allows Twitter users to donate by tweeting amounts to the service. Users must sign up for Givver first, but once they are signed up, donating via Givver is just as easy as donating to the Red Cross through a text message.

ABC News reports that Booker told his followers about Givver with a tweet on June 14th saying “Help me reach $100k goal by tomorrow. You can tweet to #give $5 to our Senate campaign – sign up at #Booker4Senate.”

“The folks at Givver reached out to us and helped us get set up just to see how it goes,” said Larry Huynh, a member of Booker’s digital team.

“When the idea and the platform was brought to our attention, we said, ‘For sure, let’s give it a go.’ With his huge presence on Twitter, it really made sense that we were providing folks who are supporters of Cory Booker any mechanism to support the campaign in any way they see fit,” Huynh added.

Booker isn’t alone though. Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has also turned to Givver to let his constituents easily donate via Twitter as well.  While progressive with his social media strategy, the McAuliffe campaign pales in comparison to Booker’s. McAuliffe currently has 10,911 followers on his Twitter account.

“We’re honored to have Mayor Booker on because he’s such a … thought leader on social media,’” Givver founder Chris Sommers told ABC News. “The next generation of donors and givers … are not writing checks with frequency and obviously not with the dollar amounts that some older people are. But, at the same time, they’re actually looking for something in return.”







Cap Innovators Startup BidRazor Is Shaving The Time Off Contractor’s Bids…By A Lot

bidrazor2bWe ran into a handful of good St. Louis startups at Chicago TechWeek, including our friends at Bonfyre, a classified ads startup Ad Freeq, and BidRazor, a graduate of the most recent class at Capital Innovators.

Mike Pulley and his co-founder Cameron Larsen have developed a platform for contractors that shaves the time it takes to bid on a project down from 20 hours over 3 or 4 weeks to just 2-4 hours. The main ingredient in shaving the time is “standardization” Pulley told us in an interview. Basically the app takes into consideration historical data on previous projects along with other mitigating factors that allow the contractor to more easily bid out the job.

BidRazor is the first of the duo’s apps that they are developing to help the contracting industry. They are also working on a project management app to help contractors keep better track of every piece of data they need for a building project. That was actually their earlier idea, but then they figured that contractors have to win the job before they can manage it. So far that’s paying off.

Having just graduated from the accelerator, the company already has customers and revenue, and the response has been phenomenal. Cutting back on the time it takes to bid out a project is allowing contractors to spend more time on their current projects, and in some cases, spend more time with their families. It’s a win for everyone.

They also already have a major partnership with Magic Plan, an app that creates floor plans. Now contractors can have bids and floor planes right on their iPhones or iPads.

Check out our video interview below and for more info visit them at

We’ve got more startup coverage from Chicago TechWeek here.



Big Data Conference, StampedeCon, Heads Back To St. Louis Featuring Walmart, Ford & More

StampedeCon,St. Louis,Big Data startupIf you’re in a big data startup, the StampedeCon big data conference in St.Louis is a can’t miss event. Last year we partnered with StampedeCon as their official media sponsor. Speaker after speaker explained this fast growing technology sector, that’s spawning new, great startups every day.

Last year’s inaugural event featured speakers from Facebook, Read Write Web, Kraft foods and more.

This year’s event will be held July 30-31st at the Washington University School of Medicine and will feature speakers from; Walmart, Ford Motor Company, Deloitte, Riot Games and more.

“Big Data is growing exponentially. Understanding how to control the amount of data available and create a strategy to leverage it is vital to today’s workplace,” said Gary Stiehr, StampedeCon organizer. “Companies without an understanding of Big Data are at a severe disadvantage in today’s marketplace. StampedeCon’s goal is to provide that knowledge to everyone.”
StampedeCon runs July 30-31. The first day will provide insight into developing data and analytics strategies. The second day presents a view into the technologies available to implement data and analytics strategies.
StampedeCon 2013 training partners include Cloudera and Inferology.  On July 29th, Inferology is offering a pre-conference course on NoSQL databases. On August 1st, Cloudera is offering post-conference training workshops on Hadoop, Hive and Pig.
StampedeCon features presentations benefiting both seasoned IT professionals and those getting started with Big Data. The agenda includes twelve speakers and a panel discussion, with the following agenda highlights:Big Data Analytics: Inside and Out
Michael Cavaretta, Ford Motor Company
Cavaretta will present three areas of opportunity for Big Data Analytics: improving internal processing, understanding customers though external data (including social) and vehicle sensor networks. The presentation will include tips for starting your own Big Data projects.

Big Data at Riot Games
Jerome Boulon, Riot Games
Riot Games sought to understand and improve the player experience for its 32 million users. Boulon will review the challenges they faced creating a Big Data infrastructure that delivers the ability to provide continued insight.
Five Trends in AnalyticsHow to Take Advantage Today
John Lucker, Deloitte Consulting
Lucker will discuss the latest advancements in the world of analytics and offer strategies for tapping into their potential. The topic areas include visualization and design, mobile analytics and strategy analytics.
Big Data, Big Law
Anthony Martin, Walmart
This presentation will tell the story of one global, multi-channel company’s walk through the increasingly complicated legal, compliance security maze while trying to recognize the implicit value of Big Data programs.
For more information visit

St. Louis is one of the fastest growing tech cities in the U.S., here’s why. 


Bad Ass Startup Chicks: Cara VonderBruegge With St Louis Startup Bonfyre [video][onespark]

Cara VonderBruegg,Bonfyre,Bad Ass Startup Chick,St.Louis startup,startup interview,OneSpark
The sunny skies of Hollywood California, celebrities, and power events, with a startup, that would be the ultimate goal for many people who love startups and working for them. Well for Cara VonderBruegge, who worked in that exact position at the Los Angeles office of Living Social, that wasn’t enough.

VonderBruegge (don’t even try and pronounce it), was looking for something more and wanted to move back to St. Louis, closer to her family. From a distance, off in Los Angeles, VonderBruegge saw the explosion of growth that St. Louis’ startup scene was having and she wanted to be there.

While the world knows that Living Social hasn’t been in the best financial place lately, after a series of layoffs it looked like VonderBruegge and her LA based position had survived, and it had. However in a by-chance meeting with Ray Gobberg, co-founder of Bonfyre, they struck up a good conversation. Gobberg explained that he worked at a startup in St. Louis and VonderBruegge told him that she worked for Living Social, itself still a startup.

By chance VonderBruegge called Gobberg just to catch up right when they had a project manager opening, and boom, the job was hers.  So she did the reverse, packed up her car and moved to St. Louis.

While an official events coordinator may be in the works down the road for BonFyre, VonderBruegge has her hands full with several other “top secret” projects for the BonFyre crew, and she’s instrumental on their events side too.

VonderBruegge has been on the job for about six weeks and we got a chance to catch up with her at OneSpark in Jacksonville. VonderBruegge knows her stuff, startups, events, networking and Bonfyre. Her bright personality is definitely a perk for the mostly male dominated Bonfyre team.

Check out our interview with our latest “Bad Ass Startup Chick” below, and check out Bonfyre here.

See more of our Bad Ass Startup Chicks here. 

St. Louis Arch Grants Sees 707 Applicants For 2013

Arch Grants, St. Louis startup, Edward Domain,TechliStartups who applied, and have made the finals for the St. Louis Arch Grants startup program, are waiting on pins and needles leading up to the final pitch offs and winner announcements.

Arch Grants is a program that kicked off last year in St. Louis. They provide startups with a $50,000 grant (disbursed quarterly over a year). Of course, being that it’s grant money, there is no equity exchanged. Startups selected for the program will relocate to St. Louis where they will enjoy deeply discounted residential and commercial rent, free legal, accounting, marketing, cloud computing and mentoring support, and access to the St. Louis angel investment network.

Arch Grants will award 20 such grants this year and plan on making the announcement early next month. All 20 startups will serve as spokespeople for the St. Louis entrepreneurial community and also be eligible for $100,000 follow on grant money (again no equity).

Our good friend Edward Domain, at media company Techli was one such winner last year. Domain had frequented the St. Louis startup scene from his base of operations, which was Chicago at the time. Once receiving the grant Techli moved to St. Louis and the T-Rex co-working, incubation space.

Domain just recently profiled three of the finalists for this years grants at

While many startups from across the country apply, and are more than willing to move to St. Louis for it’s rich, budding startup community, some local entrepreneurs have applied too.

Ron Story, a local St. Louis resident and founder of LeadWarmer, told Domain:

“As a resident of the St. Louis metro area, St. Louis is a no-brainer for me.  I’ve worked for a St. Louis based startup myself and now that I’ve launched my own venture and have some traction, I am more convinced than ever that St. Louis is exactly where I need to be to grow my business. Being an Arch Grants finalist is humbling and exciting all at once.  It makes me proud an East St. Louis entrepreneur can grow a great business here.”

Check out the rest of the story at

St.Louis has a great startup community, check out more St. Louis startup stories here.