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'Boot Camp' aims to connect entrepreneurs with startup educators and funding sources

The summit gives entrepreneurs with big ideas to chance to connect directly to advisers who have been through the startup process and investors who are looking for the next big thing. This discussion took place at the 2016 event.
Missouri Venture Forum

Investors and entrepreneurs from throughout the region are gathering in St. Louis today for what organizers are describing as a "boot camp" for startups. The Missouri Venture Forum is organizing the summit designed to help people who have an idea, but no concept of how to launch a company. The group’s president says it helps strengthen the region’s startup sector and emulate some hotbeds that took years to develop.

"Silicon Valley was really coming out of stuff that was done in the '40s and '50s," Matt Kulig told St. Louis Public Radio.  "In Boston, they've done a lot of medical and a lot of financial startups and tech startups as well."

More than 35 key local investors will be giving advice to area startup hopefuls during the summit at the Danforth Plant Science Center. Kulig said making those connections helps with the evolution of the region's startup sector – leading to company growth and possible big money buyouts.

“And then the people who have done those startups stay in the area and they turn around and they do another one, or do a couple of them in a row,” Kulig said.

“You start building an ecosystem that basically feeds upon itself and you have experts who understand exactly what it takes to get those things off the ground."

Along with his Missouri Venture Forum duties, Kulig is co-founder of Aisle411 and has an MBA from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
Credit Missouri Venture Forum
Along with his Missouri Venture Forum duties, Kulig is co-founder of Aisle411 and has an MBA from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.

The entrepreneur has been living in St. Louis for more than three decades and has a clear understanding of how confusing it can be to get a company off the ground.

Kulig used information from the Missouri Venture Forum to help launch a startup. His current company produces a mobile app provides a map of stores to help customers find the aisle and shelf of specific items.

He adds the organization has helped people in the 2000s get a handle on launching companies and organizations that current support the entrepreneurial scene.

“I think that what you’ve seen today is really all evolved out of the last 10 to 12 years of hard work,” Kulig said.

“A lot of organizations and people, yes. All driven to develop and grow and entrepreneurial ecosystem in this region.”

The summit is taking place at the Danforth Plant Science Center. It will feature investment experts from the area’s bigger venture capital players including Arch Angels, Monsanto Growth Ventures and Cultivation Capital.

Follow Wayne Pratt on Twitter - @WayneRadio

Wayne is the morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.