STL's Startup Scene by the Numbers

by Sarah Arnosky | Mar 27, 2017

Evidence-based practices are essential to smart decision making. By using the best quantitative and qualitative evidence available, we may learn from the past and give ourselves the best chance at success in the future.

Finding the best data can be difficult, especially in the startup world.  What qualifies as a startup? Less than 2 years in business? Less than $500k in revenue? Less than 5 employees?  Tech-based? Vision to scale? Once the definition is established, how do you ensure each startup is captured but not double counted? Until a region-wide CRM is established to track these data, we rely on a myriad of sources to determine the health of the St. Louis startup ecosystem.  Fortunately, sources like the U.S. Census Bureau and Kauffman Foundation collect startup data from across the country to draw comparisons.  This document by Accelerate St. Louis captures the highlights from these data.

Another entity, Startup Genome, recently released its “Global Startup Ecosystem Report-2017.” Startup Genome collected survey data supplemented with secondary data from global and local partners to research startup ecosystems around the world.  The insights are meant to inform policies and practices for maximum performance in an ecosystem.

The section on St. Louis begins, “St. Louis’ Midwestern work ethic, a penchant for forward thinking, and an influx of funding is all working together to make St. Louis an emerging contender within the tech world;" a description worth a pat on the back. With a strong Growth Index score (6.1) and tremendous growth in early-stage funding, St. Louis is poised for continued progress.  Plus, 16% of St. Louis startups report having moved from another U.S. city twice the average for U.S. ecosystems!

On the flip side, the report identifies a relatively low number of active startups and valuations in St. Louis, highlighting the need to attract even more startups to the region.  Additionally, St. Louis lags behind the world average percentage for immigrant founders and foreign customers, signaling a need for improving our global connectedness.

Now it’s up to the ecosystem stakeholders (and beyond) to use the data to inform decisions that will drive St. Louis’ startup scene to the next level.