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Capital Innovator’s 2018 Demo Day shows off women-led and internationally-based startups

Capital Innovators’ annual Demo Day, approaching on May 15, is an opportunity for each of the program’s startup founders to tell their stories and share their visions for their company as they enter the next level in their growth trajectories.

In addition to presentations from the startups, Demo Day will feature keynote speaker Chris Motley, Founder & CEO of Better Weekdays.

Better Weekdays is a venture-backed startup that helps university recruiters access diverse student talent. Better Weekdays is now one of the largest technology companies in the college recruiting vertical, and a success story of the St. Louis startup scene as well as a portfolio company of Capital Innovators.

During the three-month Capital Innovators program in Saint Louis, the companies validated their business models, tested new strategies for growth, and honed their pitch for follow-on investment, amongst other business development activities.

The 12 companies chosen for the cohort were selected from over 860 applications from 56 countries and 35 states. The companies represent a broad range of industries, with products ranging from IoT, AI, SaaS, Marketplaces, CPG, Machine Learning and Blockchain.

This year’s presenting startups come from all around the world and account for Capital Innovators’ most geographically diverse cohort yet. In addition to American startup cities like Denver, San Francisco and New York City, Capital Innovators has also attracted talent from Canada, Singapore, and Mexico City.

St. Louis also had strong representation with four homegrown startups with unique stories including:

  • Kind Soap – Started as a retail store eight years ago in Webster Groves. Capital Innovators is helping take their team online via e-commerce.
  • Anchor – Started because the founder’s best friend died in a boating accident. His solution was to invent an Uber-like app for sober boating, which has scaled to include several bodies of water.
  • Clever Real Estate – Founded by a 24-year-old entrepreneur who is also a rehabber and has built up a portfolio of 26 rental units throughout St. Louis.

Women founders are also well represented in the cohort. Of the twelve companies, five have a female founder on the executive team. That number is more than double the average rate of 17 percent of reported female-led startup teams in 2017.

Capital Innovators CEO, Judy Sindecuse, is herself a female founder and advocate for women entrepreneurs.

“We are excited to have so many quality companies with female founders in our portfolio,” said Sindecuse. “Though we do not target female founders, almost half of our top picks this year have had women at the helm. I think this is a sign that women are feeling more comfortable and more capable of leading scalable technology-based companies.”

Capital Innovators alumni Allison Bischoff, CEO at the Rozzy Learning Company, said it’s inspiring to have someone like Sindecuse at the helm of the program and acting as a model for women in entrepreneurship.

“We worked with Judy not only to grow our business but to learn how to become successful as a woman in business, to combat stereotypes and overcome the challenges female founders can face,” said Bischoff. “Since our Demo Day, we have grown our revenues over 300% and are continually impressed by the Midwest ecosystem and the quality and breadth of resources available for women-led startups.”

Sindecuse founded Capital Innovators in 2010, and since then has helped catalyze the St. Louis tech scene through its top 10 ranked accelerator program.

Over the program’s 7-year history, the fund has over 90 companies in its portfolio that have received more than $300 million in follow-up venture capital, and have created over 800 jobs.

“At Capital Innovators, we believe that a startup’s success comes down to the people involved in the effort and how they work together as a team,” said Sindecuse. “We lean on regional strengths, an incredible network of mentors, and a hands-on, high-touch curriculum to keep our pipeline strong and continue investing in great businesses.”


Christine Burright McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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