by Sam Levin
The St. Louis region is increasingly becoming a breeding ground for successful tech startup companies with major new investments and growth over the last year. So says a report from the St. Louis IT Entrepreneur Network, or ITEN, a nonprofit group that provides venture development services for startup technology businesses.
"There are a lot of creative, innovative people in this town who have just been under-appreciated and under-celebrated," Jim Brasunas, executive director of ITEN, tells Daily RFT. "There's...a center of gravity for IT talent in St. Louis."
The local nonprofit group today released a report on the state of regional startups based on data from more than 250 companies that it tracks. By several measures, the group says, the St. Louis tech startup scene is expanding rapidly.
The report, on view below, aims to "cover as completely as possible the growth and overall status of the technology startup landscape in St. Louis" through the end of 2012.
Last year, the report says:
$30 million was invested in St. Louis-area tech deals in 2012. This is in addition to $40 million that had been put into deals during 2009-2011, according to ITEN's data. We also would note that funding of St. Louis tech ventures is accelerating, coming from both existing investors, new investors and recently established investor groups.
This investment marks a steep increase over previous years and represents more than 40 percent of the total investment since ITEN started tracking the activity in 2008, the organization says.
"There's certainly a lot more activity in the IT startup space here in St. Louis than most people recognize," Brasunas says.
We may not exactly be Silicon Valley yet, but Brasunas points out that dice.com, a tech career hub website, recently found that, in comparison to cities across the country, St. Louis has the fastest growth in technology job listings.
While that industry may be a lot smaller here than other major cities, companies are increasingly seeing the advantage of growing these kinds of ventures in St. Louis, Brasunas says.
"Because of our cost of living, the talent costs...companies less than it would if they were in California or somewhere on the East Coast," he says.
What does this growth look like?
According to the report, the number of startups within ITEN have more than doubled in less than two years.
Additionally, more than 70 percent of the tech startups are founded by St. Louis natives, the report finds.
"More of those who are passionate, ambitious and driven to realize their business idea or dream are choosing to chase that dream in St. Louis," the report says.
This map from the report shows the geographic breakdown of startup founders:
The report also offers some demographic data on the companies:
And the report shows increases in revenue from these companies as well as past and expected job growth:
In the big picture, Brasunas says, "It's really gratifying to see the stereotype of St. Louis being just a corporate town is really a false one."
He adds, "It's exciting for young people. It keeps them here, and it attracts them here."
Continue for ITEN's top ten startup list and for the full report.
Here's ITEN's "Top Ten" list, based on a series of metrics, including total funds, monthly revenue and total employees.
And here's the full report.