• Diverse Business Accelerator: Meet Kayla Dennis

    Apr 25, 2019
    Kayla DennisThe St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator is designed to address the interests and challenges of diverse business owners as they work to scale their businesses. Participants in our capacity building program are diversely owned small businesses. This is a multi-phase program that creates a welcoming and stimulating environment for participants to receive and share valuable feedback, self-reflect, acquire effective business development strategies, and build relationships essential to their business’ growth.

    U.S. Essential Supply & Services, LLC (USE) President Kayla Dennis is part of the inaugural cohort of the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator.  We sat down with Kayla to talk about her experience as part of the inaugural Diverse Business Accelerator cohort.

    How did you get started in your business?

    With encouragement from a trusted mentor, I transitioned from 16+ years challenged as a union specialty construction company owner to kickstart USE. I started and sustain USE by building relationships with ethical partners and establishing win/win outcomes.

    What does success look like to you?

    Success is subjective. For me, success is quelling ignorance and limitations of minorities and women in my day to day endeavors. Success for me is leading a viable company that provides me and my team resources to make positive contributions and influences in communities we live and work in. Success for me includes nurturing a sustainable authentic company that allows me to provide employment opportunity to talented individuals who look like me thus seeding and fueling their well-being and possibly other’s entrepreneurial spirits as well. I think our youth should see minorities and women leading positive change to believe they too are empowered.

    What brought you to the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator?

    Optimism! I have a desire to scale my business in local and regional markets, get more tech and social media savvy, and contribute and encourage minority and women-owned business initiatives in the St. Louis region.

    Tell us about your experience in the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator.

    I am gaining great benefits, building of my business acumen and relationships, with access to Regional Chamber events and staff. I am fueling ingenuity and gumption as Program Director Lakesha Mathis and Senior Vice President Valerie Patton created a trusted environment with high regard for cohorts that is not condescending or debilitating. Although weekly meetings are a significant investment of time, the meetings allow for three hours of professional feedback from my objectives of enhancing USE’s branding and marketing prowess.

    What was your one main takeaway from the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator?

    Affirmation that relationships and access can make a big difference in the outcomes of my professional and financial investment in my business.

    How has the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator impacted your professional goals?

    I am optimistic about growth of my business in St. Louis. I am again hopeful that minority and women-owned businesses can thrive, and not just survive, in this market. Honing my skills further empowers and enables me to drive the successes of my company.


    Interested in learning more about the Diverse Business Accelerator? Read more about the program here or contact Program Director, Inclusive Business Solutions Lakesha Mathis at lmathis@stlregionalchamber.com.
  • Diverse Business Accelerator: Meet Sriram Devanathan

    Apr 25, 2019
    Sriram DevanathanThe St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator is designed to address the interests and challenges of diverse business owners as they work to scale their businesses. Participants in our capacity building program are diversely owned small businesses. This is a multi-phase program that creates a welcoming and stimulating environment for participants to receive and share valuable feedback, self-reflect, acquire effective business development strategies, and build relationships essential to their business’ growth.

    Sriram Devanathan is the principle at Medical Guidance Systems, which aims to operate in the cancer immunotherapy and nanotechnology-enabled drug delivery market by providing new targeted theragnostic opportunities for patients diagnosed with poor prognosis cancers. We sat down with him to talk about his experience as part of the inaugural Diverse Business Accelerator cohort.

    How did you get started in your business?

    While pursuing my post-doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis, the entrepreneurial bug bit me! I fortunately came across great mentors and resourceful individuals who were keen on growing the life science entrepreneurial community in the region. As I progressed from my post-doc, I got to take charge for growing Medical Guidance Systems, a company founded by Dr. Dennis Hallahan, a physician-scientist who shares similar goal as to mine to bring the fruit of science to common man.

    What does success look like to you?

    For me, success is never an end result. It’s a stage which sets up a stepping stone for the next moment. The more people you can carry through those moments and have a positive impact through the process, you have delivered.

    What brought you to the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator?

    When you are an early-stage, bootstrapped startup, every bit of learning helps. I have been fortunate to have met and worked with individuals of the Regional Chamber for few years now. When this opportunity came across, I had no second thoughts about applying.

    Tell us about your experience in the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator.

    The Diverse Business Accelerator has been good learning experience thus far. Interestingly, at DBA, it’s a multi-way learning. You not only learn from the instructors and invited speakers but also from your own peers, who are from different walks of life with diverse background. This gives you a small sample size of folks whom you have to market, explain, have a buy-in for the service/product.

    What was your one main takeaway from the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator?

    You can never over-simplify your message!

    How has the St. Louis Regional Chamber Diverse Business Accelerator impacted your professional goals?

    The Diverse Business Accelerator has helped me in prioritize and keep myself accountable towards timed deliverables on non-scientific fronts.



    Interested in learning more about the Diverse Business Accelerator? Read more about the program here or contact Program Director, Inclusive Business Solutions Lakesha Mathis at lmathis@stlregionalchamber.com.