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Arch Grants hands cash to 35 startups, its biggest class ever

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Arch Grants 2021 winners

Founders of the 2021 class of Arch Grants recipients are photographed at the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park. The 35 winning companies were announced Oct. 1, 2021.

The Arch Grants organization gave away $1.9 million to 35 early-stage businesses Friday in its largest commitment yet to nurturing entrepreneurial talent.

Previously in its 10-year history, Arch Grants has supported between 15 and 20 startups annually. Spokesman Andy Painter said the group’s successful fundraising campaign, which was completed in February and raised $21.5 million, enabled it to make more grants.

Each winning company receives $50,000, and those from out of town get an additional $10,000 to relocate to St. Louis. More than 400 companies applied for this year’s competition.

Fifteen of this year’s winners are based in the St. Louis area and 20 were founded in other cities, including New York, Dallas and Philadelphia. As a condition of the program, at least half of a company’s founding team must move to St. Louis for the next year.

In some cases, founders who once lived in St. Louis will be returning here. That’s true for the most distant winner, South Korean medical device startup Cedars Health, which was founded by former Washington University students Yoon Ho Chung and Geon Sun Park.

Michael Naber, who founded geospatial data company Simerse in Los Angeles, also will be returning to his former home of St. Louis. In addition to the Arch Grant, Simerse recently won $100,000 from the NGA Accelerator.

The grant recipients range from high-tech concepts like Intramotev, a St. Louis startup that is developing battery-powered railcars for short-haul freight, to lower-tech food and beverage enterprises like Honeymoon Chocolates of St. Louis and Mississippi Mud Coffee of Maplewood.

Several of the winning companies are pursuing social as well as business goals: Harmonee is a mobile app in which people can support nonprofit organizations by answering survey questions; Imanyco is a transcription app for people with hearing loss; and No Limbits is an adaptive clothing brand designed for people with disabilities.

In 10 years, Arch Grants has handed out $10.6 million to 208 early-stage businesses. In a statement, Executive Director Emily Lohse-Busch called those totals “an important milestone in our drive to solidify St. Louis as a beacon for innovation in the country and throughout the world.”

Arch Grants says it knows of at least 96 past winners that are still operating in the St. Louis area. Those companies have created more than 2,347 jobs, generate at least $479 million in revenue and have attracted more than $411 million of outside capital.

The 35 winners will be recognized at an online gala Nov. 17, when the organization will also present its 2021 Entrepreneur Award to Square co-founder Jim McKelvey.


2021 Arch Grants recipients

Arch Grants announced 35 grant recipients on Oct. 1. Each winner receives $50,000 and must run the company from St. Louis for a year.

Company Location Description
Athlytic Detroit Marketplace for college athlete endorsers
Bask & Bloom Essentials Bridgeton Hair care products
Buck Surgical St. Louis Medical devices
Cedars Health South Korea Medical devices
Core and Rind St. Louis Plant-based cheese alternative
Equalizer Games Dallas Sports coaching software
Erkios Systems Kansas City Cybersecurity
GABA Atlanta Career development in health care
Halal Beauty Cosmetics Des Plaines, Ill. Halal-certified cosmetics
Halo + Cleaver Denver Low-sugar sauces and condiments
Harmonee St. Louis Survey app that supports charity
Honeymoon Chocolates St. Louis Honey-sweetened chocolate
Imanyco West Palm Beach, Fla. Transcription app for the hearing impaired
InfraLytiks Des Moines, Iowa Data Analytics
Intramotev Autonomous Rail St. Louis Battery powered railcars
Inventora St. Louis Inventory management software
Looking Glass Interactive St. Louis App to create 3D walk-throughs
Mighty Cricket St. Louis Protein powder from crickets
Mississippi Mud Coffee Maplewood Organic coffee wholesaler
Nebula Media Group Philadelphia Digital solutions for small business
No Limbits Iowa City, Iowa Clothing for people with disabilities
oneKIN New York E-commerce software
Optikal Care Atlanta Eye care subscription service
Paerpay Boston Contactless payment software
Pilotbird New York Insurance analytics
Plabook Kansas City Education software
Preventogen West St. Louis County Wound care
Printerior St. Louis Additives for 3D printing
Rock the Score Sunset Hills Rental payment verification
Simerse Los Angeles Geospatial data
Soilless Austin, Texas Indoor gardening system
Stereotheque New York Marketplace for creative talent
Total Orbit St. Louis Patient education and training
ZenHammer Johnson City, Tenn. Invoicing app for small contractors
zPods St. Charles Sleeping pod for kids


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David Nicklaus is a business columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Related to this story

Arch Grants announced 35 grant recipients on Oct. 1. Each winner receives $50,000 and must run the company from St. Louis for a year.

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