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Jan 30

Stadia Ventures Announces Move into Cortex Innovation District

Stadia Ventures, the two-year-old sports-focused business development firm and accelerator that helps early stage sports startups connect with investors, brands and teams, today announced it is moving its headquarters into the CIC@4240 building in the Cortex Innovation District next month. Since Stadia started in 2015, its headquarters have been located in T-REX downtown.

“We’re thrilled to move into the Cortex district inside CIC and further engrain Stadia in the growing St. Louis startup ecosystem,” said Art Chou, Stadia Ventures co-founder and Managing Director. “T-REX and CIC play vital roles in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and we look forward to continuing to support both facilities, holding events such as our Spring 2017 Finalist Pitch Day event  at T-REX in late February.”

T-REX, which plays hosts to over a dozen entrepreneur support organizations, has been home to almost all of St. Louis’ startup accelerator programs. Prosper Women Entrpreneurs Startup Accelerator, SixThirty and SixThirty Cyber accelerators and the Purina PetCare Innovation Prize are based in T-REX, with the Yield Lab accelerator also having a T-REX office. Capital Innovators, previously headquartered in T-REX, moved to CIC@4240 in 2016 as part of a partnership with Maritz, Inc.

Tim Hayden and Art Chou of Stadia Ventures
Tim Hayden and Art Chou of Stadia Ventures

Stadia Ventures focuses on fostering connections between startups and its partners in the $150 billion sports business market including the St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Blues, ESPN, CBS Sports, Rawlings, Wilson, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Under Armour, the San Francisco 49ers, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Philadelphia 76ers and others. Stadia just completed its third cohort.

“The Stadia Accelerator has been a game changer for our business,” said Joe Shuchat, founder and president of Winning Identity, a Stadia Ventures portfolio company and accelerator graduate. “The guest speakers they’ve brought in have been world class industry leaders. The advisory team has put us in a position to take our business to the next level.”

Jan 28

COCA Announces $27M Expansion, Parking Garage in U-City

At its 30th anniversary celebration, the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) in University City announced plans for a $27M renovation and expansion to its home at 524 Trinity Avenue. COCA says more than $25M has been raised toward a $40M campaign which includes $13M toward its endowment and reserves.

Founded in 1986, COCA transformed the B’nai Amoona Synagogue, designed by notable architect Eric Mendelsohn and completed in 1950. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An 11K sf addition in 2004 created a new entrance and expanded capacity.

The newly announced expansion is planned to begin in 2018 and be completed late the following year. A new 450-seat theater will be built on the existing adjacent surface parking lot and require the removal of the 2004 addition. Other planned amenities include new studio, instructional, and community space.

A 200+ parking space will be constructed in conjunction with Washington University across Washington Avenue, replacing the approximately 80 existing COCA space, and 70 at 560. That garage will serve both buildings. 560 was completed in 1930 as the Shaare Emeth Temple. The building has seen a variety of uses since and was acquired by WUSTL in 2006.

These two buildings and others highlight a challenge noted in the National Register nomination form, “Since this part of University City already has a super abundance of institutional facilities and a shortage of parking spaces, the future of B’nai Amoona is in doubt.”

Indeed, it’s been a challenge to find new uses for some of University City’s institutional buildings. Today, City Hall occupies the “Women’s Magazine Building”, originally built as the headquarters of a publishing company. Next door, the Church of Scientology occupies the 1924 Assumption Greek Orthodox Church.

Today, the former Harvard Delmar School building is vacant, and the magazine press building, long the city’s police headquarters, has been vacated after being deemed unfit for use. The former school building at 721 Kingsland is now utilized by WUSTL’s Sam Fox School.

Mendelsohn, architect of B’nai Amoona Synagogue (COCA), left Germany in 1933 following the rise to power fo the Nazis. He eventually immigrated to the US in 1941.

According to the National Register nomination form, Mendelsohn had a friend in St. Louis for whom he had designed a store in Gleiwitz, Silesia, in 1922. Connections made via his friend led to showing his work, giving lectures, and then the B’nai Amoona commission. The building proved popular and led to commissions in Cleveland, Ohio (1946- 1952); Washington, D.C. (1948); Baltimore, Maryland (1948); Grand Rapids, Michigan (1948-1952); St. Paul, Minnesota (1950-54); and Dallas, Texas (1951).

Design team for the $27M COCA theater and expansion project: Design Architect – Axi:Ome, Associate Design Architect, Architect of Record – Christner Inc., Structural Engineer – OES Inc., Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing Engineer – Buro Happold, Lighting Design – Buro Happold, Civil Engineer – Engineering Design Source, Inc., Theater Consultant – Schuler Shook, Acoustic Consultant – Kirkegaard Associates, Audio Visual Consultant – Kirkegaard Associates, Construction Manager – Wilson TW Joint Venture.

Model and images (1980) from National Register nomination form:

Jan 26

New Residential Infill Nears Completion in Old North St. Louis (1323 Monroe)

A three townhome project at 1323-39 Monroe Street in Old North St. Louis is nearing completion. The 3BD, 2.5BA homes are listed for $155K by Rome West Realty. The three corner lots are three blocks south of the 14th Street project and Crown Candy Kitchen, the urban center of Old North. The neighborhood saw an incredible 27.7% population increase, gaining 416 residents from 2000 to 2010.However, momentum then slowed as the economy faltered, and the big idea, the $4B, 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration plan immediately to the neighborhood’s west, never got off the ground.

However, momentum then slowed as the economy faltered, and the big idea, the $4B, 1,500-acre NorthSide Regeneration plan immediately to the neighborhood’s west, never got off the ground. Now two-thirds of the way through this decade, the $2B NGA headquarters project and planned or hoped-for nearby development may return growth to the area. In the meantime, project like this one offer an affordable option and quality infill to an area with high vacancy.

All photographs via Matt Fernandez. Renderings via Rome West Realty.

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Jan 25

Historic Gratiot School Transformation to 22 Apartments Moving Quickly

The historic Gratiot School at 1615 Hampton Avenue near Manchester Avenue is undergoing a conversion to apartments by Garcia Properties, which purchased the vacant school from the district for a reported $414,700. The building closed in 2013 after having served as home to the St. Louis Public School archives since 1992.

The 27,474 sf school dates from 1882 with additions in 1899 and 1919 and is quite a bit smaller than other former school buildings that have been converted to apartments in recent years. The building will accommodate 22 apartments. Having been used to store archives, the building was in decent condition when sold to Garcia. As of this post, new windows had been installed on the north side of the building (see image below).

Though the school appears rather cohesive architecturally, the center section predates the rest of the structure by several decades. From the National Register of Historic Places:

The east elevation is eleven bays wide, the two-story building has red brick masonry bearing walls laid in common bond resting on a raised, split-faced random ashlar limestone basement. The center section of the building is the original 1882 schoolhouse designed by H. William Kirchner.

The north and south wings of the east elevation are identical in form although they were constructed at two different times. Both wings were probably designed in concept by William B. Ittner c. 1899 although the plans for the southern addition bear Rockwell Milligan’s name. The northern wing was constructed in 1899 under Ittner’s direction. The southern wing was constructed in 1919 under the direction of Ittner’s successor Rockwell Milligan.

[Read Gratiot School National Register of Historic Places nomination]

Gratiot School c. 1882:

Gratiot School and floor plans c. 1935:

Photographs from late 2015 by Andrew Weil for the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form:

Images from Google Streetview and Google Earth:

Images from Paul Sableman via Flickr:

Image by 24th Ward alderman Scott Ogilvie (1/23/2017):

Jan 25

Dabble Is Here To Help You Play With Your Curiosity

“Dabble was founded on the idea that everyone has interests, skills and passions and we all long to connect,” says Dabble CEO and Chief Dabbler, Jay Swoboda. After all, it seems like most people today are too busy with work to cultivate after-hours interests (they’re lucky if they squeak in a trip to the gym), much less “dabble” with a few to find one they love—or just play with their curiosity.

Dabble, an “event marketing technology and interest discovery platform,” aims to change this by connecting “curiosity with passion in local communities,” says Swoboda. “We believe that learning doesn’t need to happen in a classroom, can be “fun” and that anyone can teach, learn or host.”

Erin Hopmann and Jess Lybeck founded the company in May 2011: As “young professionals in a big city, they found it hard to just “dabble” in their interests, try new things and meet new people rather than committing to often expensive, multi-session classes,” says Swoboda.

Jay Swoboda
Jay Swoboda, CEO of Dabble

Originally, both had quit their day jobs to launch a marketing and branding company that would focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs, Swoboda says. “One thing that seemed to be a common denominator was that everyone needed more customers, and that many talented people needed support sharing their passion and skills. Over and over, it seemed that events, classes and workshops were an incredible way to find new, loyal customers.” 

The founders drew on sites like Skillshare.com andLearnapalooza.com for early inspiration and began building the first website on WordPress for what would eventually become Dabble.” After attracting their first teacher partners they launched with 18 classes and bootstrapped for a year before raising funding and moving the platform to a Ruby on Rails site in late 2012,” says Swoboda. 

Hopmann and Lybeck built the company for three years “before handing the reins over to the new team when resources ran out,” says Swoboda. Today, he says “they remain some of our biggest cheerleaders.”

A Rollercoaster of a Ride 

Dabble’s ride hasn’t always been an easy one: It’s “grown and scaled back many times over its five-plus year existence to make ends meet,” says Swoboda.

Dabble laid off “just about everyone in September 2013,” says Swoboda. “The company was very close to going under, but the idea is just too good to die and has proven resilient against the odds.”

Dabble
A Dabbler takes a woodworking class

During that time, they launched a website that would deeply resonate with the startup community. “When Dabble was considering what to do in the fall of 2013, the founders launched a website that struggling entrepreneurs still read today called “30 Days of Honesty” that documented the founders’ journey as they struggled to keep Dabble alive,” says Swoboda. “The resulting response and surge of energy from the community as a result of their candor and transparency very likely saved Dabble.”

They’ve carried on that spirit in their current operations. “It is this same transparency and honesty that we embody every day in how we operate Dabble with our team and our community,” says Swoboda. “Running a startup is hard. Really hard—even with funding—but without funding it’s like having your kneecaps slammed with a sledgehammer if you’re not honest with yourself and your customers.”

Since 2013’s hard times, they’ve seen support come in from some significant sources: They won an Arch Grant in 2014 and followed it up with participation in Capital Innovators Spring 2015 cohort, which “was very instrumental in the rebirth and continued existence of Dabble.”

“Over the years, we’ve learned that even without funding and money in the bank, a good idea can survive,” says Swoboda. “We exist today because of the strength of our teachers and hosts and the willingness to keep working–despite a lack of financial resources–to provide a platform where over 75,000 people can explore their interests, try new things, meet new people and build their own brands by offering events on the platform.”

Even last year saw big changes: “Earlier in 2016, we had 10 staff members and our own office in the River North area of downtown Chicago. Now, we have four distributed full-time staff with over 28 part-time company ambassadors supporting 4,000-plus teachers and hosts who list on the platform in the US.”

No longer in the River North office, the team members work out of Soho House in Chicago, and they’ve created an office culture that’s lively and vibrant. “We make an effort to make each other crack up throughout the day through frequent GIFs and passive-aggressive fake support emails we take turns fighting the urge to send,” Swoboda says. 

They’re not the only ones in the learning/experience/events space, either:
“The event and experience ticketing space is pretty crowded with some big names like Eventbrite, Meetup, Ticketfly, Ticketmaster and even the relatively recent addition of Airbnb,” says Swoboda. “However, the local event ticketing and marketing space is a bit smaller, led by Chicago-based Groupon. Other competitors like Coursehorse, Vimbly and Zozi have partnered with larger companies or moved to SaaS platforms and don’t seem to directly compete.”

There’s one big competitor out West, though: San Francisco-based Verlocal. They launched a little more than two years ago, says Swoboda, and “raised a bit more funding out of the gates.” Since then, “they’ve grown aggressively to 15-plus US markets, expanded with a handmade marketplace and are pushing local services (hair, nails, etc.) and a social network.” But they’re not where Dabble is: Although they’ve grabbed a lot of the market, they still haven’t been able to crack into Chicago, Denver and St. Louis.

All that aside, Dabble occupies a unique position in its world: By focusing on class and experience ticketing and marketing, they occupy a niche that other companies orbit. “As a result we have the No. 1 spot on Google when it comes to anyone searching for ‘classes’ in Chicago, Denver and St. Louis without having to spend a dime on SEO/SEM,” says Swoboda.

Dabble
A Dabble cocktail course.

Passing the Torch

When Swoboda took over as Chief Dabbler in 2014, he was ready for a challenge. “Growing up without a lot of resources on a working Missouri farm as one of 13 kids will prepare you for just about anything,” he says. “I’ve been financially independent since I was 14 and had started six companies in the nonprofit sector and sustainability space before taking over Dabble in 2014. I’ve learned to be self-sufficient but also to really appreciate the lucky hand I’ve been given.”  

Despite their difficulties, Swoboda sees big things ahead for the company. “Dabble has come a long way over the past five years, but we’ve got a lot of things we can still do and improve upon. I’m incredibly encouraged that we’re growing so well (75% YTD over 2015) with such a limited geographical footprint and a lot of opportunity with our tech.

In December 2016, the company had just listed their 10,000th in-person class or experience, “which truly demonstrates the depth of skill and passion among our teacher network around the US.”

And more funding is coming through: “We raised $1.5 million in equity [in 2016] and $2.25 million to date and are raising a new round to keep growing our monthly revenue beyond the $50,000 per month average to keep growing our community to hit 100,000 users in early 2017,” says Swoboda.

Speaking of the users, who exactly are Dabblers? “It changes from city to city, but the overwhelming demographic of the Dabble user is a 25- to 40-year-old professional woman,” says Swoboda. “They love to explore their city, mix up their routine and even share their skills building their own businesses. Dabble is a tremendous resource for them and they support us in a huge way. They are our best ambassadors for Dabble and push us to continue to improve and bring new experiences to the community.”

What’s Next

If we can secure the resources to keep growing Dabble, we are pushing hard for an expansion across the US through some national partnerships as well as the organic demand for authentic and affordable local experiences,” he says. “We’re building a seamless and simple product for anyone looking to host and promote events anywhere that is more affordable than the competition and, more importantly, tied to data-driven marketing technology to actually market listed events driving revenue and loyal customers.” 

As far as all this means to its users: “I believe that Dabble can become the de facto site for monetizing your side hustle and finding cool things to try in your local community,” says Swoboda. “My search for someone to teach me how to build an oak cask and to learn to plaster led me to Dabble. What can it lead you to? There is so much knowledge in the world that is not being shared, and I would love for Dabble to be such a repository of skills and knowledge.

Dabble seeks to empower lifelong learning, and I believe such a vision can inspire millions of people to share their skills and break up their routine through one-time classes and experiences.”

Part of the platform is bringing the local aspect to a globalized world, where it seems like you can learn anything with a quick Google search. “There is inherently a very local network effect required for Dabble to flourish on a global scale, but through my travels and our team’s work, we’re making the world more local every day empowering human connection through Dabble experiences,” says Swoboda.

Jan 24

Getting a Move on: How Label Insight Found its Path to Growth in Downtown St. Louis

Estimated reading time: 5 minute(s)

In December, 2013, Label Insight and T-REX parted ways. The company, after a year-long stint incubating at T-REX, had grown exponentially. It was clear that after raising millions of dollars and doubling the number of employees, Label Insight was ready to grow into its own space. But striking out on their own in no way meant dissolving the close ties they developed with T-REX–it would become quite the opposite.

The rate of growth Label Insight experienced had much to do with environment. Co-founder Dheeraj Patri shares credit with the community of which he had become a part. “Really it was the desire and commitment by Arch Grants and T-REX communities to get us more involved. The community really propped us up and forced us–to the best of their ability–to be as successful as we can [be],” he said. So to continue their rapid growth Label Insight had to do two things: move out and stay close.   

A Data-Driven Mission

Label Insight, now growing by leaps and bounds, focuses on deeply understanding the makeup of all Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs). This includes everything from food to shampoo. “We look at ourselves as a cloud product label data refinery platform,” co-founder Dheeraj Patri says. “And what we do is we take this datum and we digitize it. By looking at patterns in this data, we are able to understand deeply what is actually in a product.”

Photo courtesy of Label Insight

This is significant because Label Insight’s customers are in the industry. Their work is not to dictate to any entity what to or to not do. It has no regulatory ambition. However, Label Insight uncovers facts and discloses them, letting the data speak. “Our purpose is really about transparency,” says Patri. “And our mission centers around transparency–to provide transparency through data, that is our core mission.” Through the work, Label Insight started with a mission and has taken off.

At a Crossroads

Label Insight wasn’t always a multi-located, 70+ employee company that creates strategic alliances with big names such as the FDA and Nielsen. Long before Label Insight came to be, Anton Xavier, Dagan Xavier, and Dheeraj Patri were looking for a solution. The Xavier brothers’ father experienced a health scare and wanted to alter his diet. But the incident and their attempts to help made the friends keenly aware of how inscrutable product labels are. That provided the impetus for the trio’s business venture. The goal was transparency. From there, the company set out to gather, log, analyze and digitize data.

This began in 2008 and though the work was compelling, the business hadn’t taken off. The three worked in various parts of the globe and gathered periodically as they built out the company. Patri, being the only member in the US, was not tied to any particular city, so when the opportunity came, he and his family moved to St. Louis.

“The reason we came to St. Louis is really because my wife got a job opportunity here. We were at a crossroads where I really wasn’t making money in the business, and I either needed to get a “real” job, or maybe we move to St. Louis. And why not? She’s from St. Louis. It’s a great place. We have children too, and we would have support from her parents as well because they continue to live here,” he said.

Little did Patri know that working from his in-laws’ St. Louis basement had in fact positioned him and the Label Insight company well. “In early 2012, my business partner Anton Xavier sent me an email from an article talking about this startup business competition,” Patri says. “They were giving out $50,000 equity free. Our perspective was, ‘Well, it’s in St. Louis. Why don’t we do that?” We applied, but we had no belief we’d actually win.’ Yet, they did.

Turning Point

Label Insight, then named Food Essentials, was part of Arch Grants’ inaugural class in 2012. This was a pivotal moment for the company. Winning included not just the $50,000 grant, but also access to resources, networking, publicity and affordable office space at T-REX. It was an infusion of money and resources, but being a part of Arch Grants also gave Patri and his partners some harder to quantify advantages.

“Most important, even though capital is very welcome, is the [sense that] you are actually doing something meaningful. That confidence you get from someone actually awarding you something like that is huge. It made us be more aggressive as well as believe in ourselves more. It was a turning point in our company because of that,” he said.

That June, Label Insight began working out of T-REX, in its original location in the Macy’s Building (also known as the Railway Exchange) Downtown. Patri worked from the space by himself, since the Xaviers weren’t living in the U.S. at the time. But he was not alone. T-REX intentionally creates an environment that facilitates interactions among its tenants and the startup community.

Those connections, cultivated organically and set up strategically, had an exponential impact on Label Insight. At T-REX, Patri explains, they began to gain an “understanding [that] there are other people who are in the same boat as us. [The space was] creating an ability to go down and walk across the hallway to talk to, maybe not the same companies, but similar stage companies and really bond and understand and help each other out. On top of that, there was a lot of publicity and outreach to the business community in Downtown St. Louis,” Patri says.

Label Insight team

The Label Insight team in its office in the Curlee Building across 10th Street from T-REX.

Label Insight team

Label Insight Label Insight
Label Insight Label Insight
Label Insight

Label Insight team at the company’s office in Downtown St. Louis

Label Insight

With a boost from Arch Grants, T-REX, and the startup community as a whole, Label Insight began to grow. By 2013 they had joined Capital Innovators, had closed an early seed round led by Cultivation Capital, and continued to raise funds.

Not Goodbye, See You Later

But Label Insight’s funds weren’t the only things that were growing. Operationally, they were gearing up. They knew their time working out of T-REX was nearing an end, once they hit more than 10 employees. The timing, once again, was favorable. T-REX had plans to relocate to the Washington Avenue loft district to the Lammert Building, which it acquired in 2013. Rather than move twice, Label Insight coordinated to move a few weeks ahead of the organization, officially parting ways. But they didn’t move far.

Thriving as a company meant a lot of change for Label Insight, but one thing they were dedicated to keeping constant was community. They sought out real estate that would be proximal to T-REX and found it in the Curlee Building. After each moved, T-REX and Label Insight were next door neighbors, the ideal kind who gather together and look out for each others’ best interests.

Label InsightLabel Insight’s team in 2016. | Photo via LabelInsight.com

Now Label Insight is established, and they are in a position to give back and make a greater impact within the local startup scene. Currently, Patri and the company is asking, “How can the startup ecosystem allow, especially engineers and the technical people, to come down and see what we’re up to and to use that as a way to attract talent? How can we get them to stay in St. Louis instead of them going to the coasts or Chicago and realize there’s a great ecosystem in downtown that they can be apart of that’s growing?”

The answer to Patri’s questions: plan for growth.

In the near term, the company plans to begin sponsoring events held at T-REX. Hosting and gathering entrepreneurial minded and talented people at T-REX, Patri hopes will showcase all the promising opportunities and existing culture the area has, thereby stoking more growth and retention for St. Louis. Increased awareness and and influx of talent in the community will benefit the entire region, and will, of course, benefit Label Insight as well. They have their sights set on expanding and are continuing to grow the St. Louis office. “We’re hiring and we’re hiring locally, which definitely means in St. Louis. We think of St. Louis as our home, where we really got our big break. If there are smart people, send them our way,” he said.

You can’t get much more transparent than that, even for a company with it at the heart of its mission. To learn more about Label Insights opportunities and mission, find them on the web here.  

Jan 24

Adarza BioSystems Closes on $17 Million – What’s Next for the Life Science Startup

Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

On January 19, startup Adarza BioSystems, Inc,  based in St. Louis and Rochester, New York, closed on $17 Million in Series C financing and announced that new president Bryan Witherbee is replacing retiring CEO Dr. Rand Henke. This funding round is led by St. Louis-based later-stage life science fund, 3×5 RiverVest Fund II, LP out of RiverVest Venture Partners. Less than a year ago, Adarza closed on $5 Million in Series B financing led by Cultivation Capital Life Science Fund, Lewis and Clark Ventures and the Venture Capital Unit of Siemens. Local investment and the availability of premium talent in science and engineering brought Adarza BioSystems to St. Louis and continues to contribute to its growth.

What Adarza Does

Adarza BioSystems, Inc. is a label-free platform technology that enables the simultaneous detection of hundreds of analytes in a single drop of fluid. New president Brian Witherbee explains the meaning of “label-free” in this context. He says, “Our technology provides a way to accurately measure different proteins in your sample (blood, cultured media, sputum, etc.) in its native form as it exists in nature. Other competing technologies need to have non-native forms of the proteins modified (labeled) with a chemical in order for them to be accurately measured. By not modifying the protein of interest our AIR technology is both sensitive and accurate.”

Adarza’s approach is better for patients and improves the quality of testing outcomes. Witherbee continued, “Our tool allows the researcher to take one sample and 400 different measurements. As we’re entering this realm where we are starting to understand the biology around cancer, having a tool like this where you can multiplex and get a good overview of what is going on in a human system gives more options to the clinician to be able to successfully treat it with drugs and other therapies.

About the technology

Adarza’s AIR (Arrayed Imaging Reflectometry) Platform distinguishes their approach from their competitors because it separates each analyte, removing the risk of cross-reactivity. Witherbee said, “One of the things that is unique about our tool is that with some of the other technologies there is opportunity that you could get mixed results, because of cross-reactivity where as with the Adarza AIR there is 0% cross-reactivity.” Cross-reactivity results in inconclusive results due to unintentional mixing of the analytes.

The AIR Platform process begins with the application of the sample to a silicone chip and incubating it. A rinse and dry step results in an image produced by suppressing background illumination in order to reveal hidden detail on the chip. Within minutes, the image reveals its first results for analysis.

The Backstory

Adarza BioSystems was founded in 2008 by Dr. Benjamin Miller, Professor of Dermatology,  at University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.  Miller serves as Chairman of Adarza BioSystems’ Scientific Board. Witherbee said, ” Miller has been the driving force to a lot of the early observations and development of the technology. Rand Henke, retired CEO, started working with the technology and over the years the intellectual property was licensed to Adarza.”

Rochester is a likely place to have started an immunoassay imaging company. As the home of Eastman Kodak Company and Xerox, there are many people in the area with scientific knowledge about imaging. Witherbee said, “This technology got developed out of a place where imaging technology has been in development for a long time. There is a lot of entrepreneurial effort around imaging. The work that has come out of High Tech Rochester has pushed and helped enable some of these technologies.”

Why move to St. Louis?

Adarza BioSystems moved to O’Fallon, MO in January 2015 as a result of Series A funding. They found BioGenerator, an accelerator focused on cultivating a thriving biosciences sector in St. Louis. As they worked to assemble Series B funding, they found a lot of support in the area.  Witherbee said, “We are here because of a lot of efforts by different investment groups–at first Cultivation Capital, Lewis & Clark Ventures and BioGenerator and now RiverVest–all local community investors looking to further invest into St. Louis. They are helping to move those companies along and provide their experience in terms of tools and connections as well as obviously the financing.”

St. Louis offers substantial assets in the area of scientific human resources as well.  Witherbee said, “One of the nice things about being located here in St. Louis is that there is a wealth of great scientists and engineers here. There have been a lot of scientists here over the years with Monsanto, and Pfizer was here for a long time, so there are a lot of scientists here that have drug discovery experience. That’s exciting for Adarza because we’ll be able to tap into that experience.” Today, Adarza has about 20 employees.

What’s next?

Closing on Series C funding is clearly a step in a great direction for Adarza Biosystems. According to the press release, proceeds from the financing will be used to further expand production capacity in its St. Peters, MO manufacturing facility and fund final development and commercialization of Adarza’s first immunoassay product consumable and instrument platform. The company is also continuing to explore how to commercialize their product. Witherbee said, “We’re still trying to get to the voice of the customer. We want to know what is tough in utilizing these technologies for researchers and how we can make the experience easier. We are still doing the development, which makes it a critical time for us to listen.”

Witherbee sees his new role as taking Adarza’s product to the next level. He said, “Adarza has done a great job of understanding and developing this unique and exciting technology. Now I need to help focus the company on delivering a commercial technology.”

Jan 24

Mosque, Single-Family Homes Approved in St. Louis City Historic Districts

St. Louis City is home to an immense treasure trove of historic districts, landmarks, and architecture. There are city landmarks, national register listings, national historic districts, local historic districts, and more. It’s a lot to keep track of (National designations are important primarily because they confer access to tax credits). Local districts are the only ones to confer any real protection against alteration or demolition.

The relevant point here is that if you want to demolish, renovate, or build in a local historic district you’re going to land at the city’s Cultural Resources Office and seek the approval of the appointed Preservation Board. The board has a good track record of protecting the historic integrity of buildings and neighborhoods. In real life, this means the board often reaffirms simple rules, such as, that no, you cannot install a Home Depot door on your 1895 Benton Park home.

And on big decisions (see The People v. SLU regarding the Pevely Dairy complex) politics can sometimes carry the day. Still,  common sense typically rules the outcomes each month. This week, two single-family homes (Lafayette Square and Benton Park historic districts) and a mosque (McKinley Heights historic district) were approved by the board.

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1212 Dolman Street – Lafayette Square Local Historic District

The Proposal:
This single-family house, on the east side of Dolman Street, follows a Historic Model Example as required by the Lafayette Square Standards. However, the design includes a large side porch, based generally upon a similar porch that was approved by the Preservation Board for another new house constructed at 1722 Carroll Street in 2015.

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2843 South 18th Street – Benton Park Local Historic District

The Proposal:
The applicant proposes to construct one single-family residence at 2843 South 18th Street, in the Benton Park Local and National Register District.

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2623 Allen Avenue – McKinley Heights Local Historic District

The Proposal:
This is a preliminary review application to construct a new mosque with parking.

Jan 18

Introducing STLTechMap: A New Interactive Ecosystem Map for St. Louis

Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

Ever since EQ published our ecosystem map as a printed infographic a couple of years ago, we have received great feedback. People have told us they hang it on their office walls for reference and print and share it in meetings or presentations. Seeing the response to our map and ITEN’s map, it’s not surprising to us that the Kauffman Foundation has said that mapping your startup ecosystem is a strategy to strengthen it.

While it felt great to provide the map as a resource, however, we knew that if it were to truly serve as such, it needed to become something dramatically different.

St. Louis Startup Ecosystem Map

Our printed posters were immediately outdated when, the week after we printed copies, another new accelerator launched, already rendering the map out of date. While our printed maps provided a nice birds-eye view of the community, it couldn’t by its very nature allow users to filter content or read more about specific organizations, much less contribute content themselves. Additionally, the finite space of our printed map could in no way accommodate the central part of our tech community—the startups themselves!

In short, our map needed to more truly reflect the nature of our startup ecosystem itself: always evolving and interactive, with an opportunity for everyone to contribute. 

And now it’s here!

Today we introduce STLTechMap.com.

STL Tech Map

Our goal with STLTechMap is to provide easy access to navigating St. Louis’ high-tech scene. Want to peruse programs and networks you can become involved with to push your idea forward? Looking for a list of startups in various industries in St. Louis? Whether you’re a startup CEO, an investor, an out-of-town visitor, an ESO leader or job seeker, let the map be your guide to understanding St. Louis’ startup community and finding the resources you need.

EQ’s Role

EQ has kicked off the content for the map by adding over 250 pins across 14 categories, from Incubators and Accelerators to Co-working and Startups. Thanks to the sponsorship from Cortex Innovation Community, EQ has been able to dedicate hours and resources to getting the map set up and launched–and we will continue adding new pins and moderating user-generated content. We will also send quarterly requests for updates to organizations and apply other methods to ensure the content is as up-to-date as possible.

But We Need Your Help, Too

  • This map is crowdsourced, so encourage startups and other organizations to add themselves to the map. Startups need only have an STL office to make it onto the map.
  • If you are a startup founder, ESO leader or communications manager of an organization already on the map, “claim” your pin to update your information, add photos and post job listings (more on this below).
  • Promote the map to your networks to help tell St. Louis’ startup story. Unlike many cities, St. Louis has multiple innovation districts, and this map tells a visual story about our region.

Why Claim Your Organization on the Map?

Organizations that “Claim” their listing can not only keep their profiles up to date; they can also add job listings for free. Users (read: passive and active job seekers interested in the startup community) can navigate to the Jobs section of the map and see the job listings there. This will temporarily replace EQ’s TEQJobs board. We’d like to see if users utilize this free resource, and if having it integrated into the map helps with engagement by both companies and job seekers.

By claiming your listing, you can also post events to your organization’s page (note: this is a separate events listing from EQ’s main calendar; we will maintain both calendars for a period of time to compare engagement).

We hope you utilize the map–and share widely with your networks–to help the ecosystem continue to grow in 2017.

For question on how to perform certain functions, see below. Otherwise, enjoy the map and we look forward to feedback along the way!

-EQ


STLTechMap “How To” FAQs:

How to add a company or organization to the map:

To add a new company, click “ADD TO MAP.” You’ll be prompted to sign in or create a free account to be able to add listings. You do not need to be the owner or manager of the company to pin a company. EQ moderates all new pin additions. The organization’s owner or communications manager can then “claim” their listing to keep it updated.

How to update an existing pin on the map:

Navigate to the pin’s description page and click “Claim Place.” You’ll be prompted to sign in or create a free account. EQ moderates all requests to claim pins. Please allow up to 24 hours for these approvals (though we aim to do these much more quickly).

How to share a listing on social media:

Navigate to the pin’s description page and click the small “Share” button on the right of the description. You can then choose to share on social media or via email and other channels.

What if my organization is already on the map but I see the information is out of date?

Claim your pin (see above) to update the information, or forward it to someone in your organization who is empowered to do so.

Where to send other feedback on the map: editors@eqstl.com. Please allow up to 48 hours for a response.

Map data compiled by Olive Elwell and Kelly Hamilton

Jan 18

2017 Soulard Mardi Gras Festivities

When you mention Mardi Gras in St. Louis, most of us think of Soulard, home to one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans. The Soulard festivities last for weeks, beginning with Twelfth Night in January and ending with the Bud Light Grand Parade on February 25. Here are the top events and activities during the 2017 Soulard Mardi Gras.

Family Winter Carnival – January 21

The Family Winter Carnival is a chance for everyone to get into the Mardi Gras spirit. There are live performances, arts and crafts and a children’s parade. The carnival is held at Soulard Market Park.

Snowman Softball Tournament – January 28 – 19

Snow or Shine! The region’s premier winter adult softball tournament returns for its sixth year at Central Fields in Forest Park. This year, over 90 teams will compete for the title in their respective division. The coed division plays Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 a.m., and the mens division plays Sunday, January 29 at 7:30 a.m.

Wine Beer and Whiskey Taste – February 10

Spend the evening sampling beverages and meeting the makers of more than 50 beverages from Missouri and beyond. From 7 p.m. – 11 p.m., Guests can enjoy samples of award-winning barbecue from a variety of Award Winning BBQ. Music for the evening will be provided by DJ Quain. Tickets are 40 in advance; $50 at the door

Cajun Cook Off – February 11

You are sure to get your fill of Cajun and Creole food at the Cajun Cook-Off. Learn the secrets of Cajun cooking from the best chefs in St. Louis while enjoying complimentary dishes prepared by them. In addition from learning from the professionals you can also check out the amateur chef scene in st. louis as they display their skills and compete against other amateur chefs. Everyone who attends gets food, Bud Light and hurricanes. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door.

Missouri Lottery 5k Run for Your Beads – February 18

Get your exercise, St. Louis Mardi Gras style! Show up in your best purple, gold, and green costume and race your way through the historic Soulard neighborhood. In true Mardi Gras spirit, pit stops along the race route will hand out complimentary beer and hurricanes (for runners 21 and older). All registrants will receive a limited edition 5K Run for Your Beads t-shirt. Tickets are $25 until February 10; $30 after February 10 to race day; $35 on Race Day

Cruzan Rum Taste of Soulard – February 18 – 19

This unique self-guided tasting and pub crawl has become one of the most popular events of the Mardi Gras season. Every $25 ticket includes one drink voucher and six food vouchers. You choose the six dishes you wish to sample from a range of Cajun-inspired options.  Saturday attendees can enjoy complimentary trolley rides from one establishment to the next, guided as always by the world famous Soulard Trolley Tramps. Tickets are $25

Beggin’ Pet Parade  – February 19

The Guinness World Record holder for largest costumed pet parade in the world celebrates its 24th year!  Thousands of festive four-legged (and other animal friends) strut their style as they step off at 1 p.m. from 12th and Allen. Those deemed best dressed are selected as members of the Court of the Mystical Krewe of Barkus and make the cut to be part of the Coronation pageant (8th and Lafayette) where the King and Queen of Barkus are crowned.  Of course, the party continues after Coronation with a free concert in the Soulard Market Plaza.

Wiener Dog Derby – February 19

The longest-running dachshund derby in America is back. Enjoy the Sport of Weenies as wiener dogs compete in three age-based categories: Cocktail Weenies, Ballpark Franks, Wiener Wannabe and Hot Dogs, for the title of fastest Weenie! The races take place over a series of elimination heats until we have the Dash of Champions in each age category.

Mayor’s Mardi Gras Ball – February 24

The Mayor’s Ball is one of the year’s most anticipated social events. The Black Tie Gala in the Rotunda of St. Louis City Hall is a one-of-a-kind fairy tale evening of great food, cocktails, dancing, and spectacular entertainment.  The night always culminates with a packed dance floor of energized, blissful revelers dressed in alluring gowns and modish tuxedos pulsating to the beat of the music and glittering in the mesmerizing, brilliant light show illuminating the rotunda.  Tickets are $150 for General Admission

Bud Light Grand Parade – February 25

This is the big event of Mardi Gras, bringing tens of thousands of revelers to the streets of Soulard. Some 130 Krewes spend months building their floats, hoping to win prizes and bragging rights at the parade. In addition to the floats, there are also marching bands and, of course, millions of beads flying through the air. The parade begins at 11 am Busch Stadium, makes its way into the heart of Soulard and ends at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

 

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