Arch Grants’ investment in startups makes way for new tech to debut in St. Louis
The 2023 cohort of Arch Grants Founders includes small business entrepreneurs from tech startups to apparel stores. The 22 founders that make St. Louis their home base are now part of a group of hundreds of businesses that have since grown exponentially and added thousands of jobs to the area.
Arch Grants has supported startup and small businesses since 2012 with mentorship and funding that allows them to maintain equity or ownership. The nonprofit also provides bonus dollars for businesses that relocate to St. Louis. This year, Arch Grants awarded businesses with more than $1.8 million. Arch Grants Executive Director Gabe Angieri told St. Louis on the Air that this is something the entire region can celebrate.
“[Arch Grants looks] for companies that have high growth potential in St. Louis. They're innovative, scalable and are able to articulate why St. Louis is the best place to grow their business,” Angieri said. “The focus of the program is really to create economic impact in St. Louis.”
Pierre Paul moved his startup, We Hear You, to St. Louis nearly two months ago. He said the strong sense of entrepreneurial community and a growing interest in accessibility attracted him to the city. “I've heard all the time growing up in the Midwest that St. Louis is a small-big city. And doing research in the city, you see that there is potential in terms of growing in different spaces, specifically for those with various disabilities, or exceptionalities, where my company is focused,” he said.
We Hear You creates products to make the world more accessible. Paul and his team have developed two products — the We Hear You Sign Language Translator and Push, a device that opens ADA-compliant doors from a greater distance and allows for more time to make it through the doorway. Push will make its debut in St. Louis in early 2024.
The idea for Push came when Paul was studying at Cornell University for diversity, equity and inclusion certification. He said: “I'm not just trying to build because [the idea] hit me. I'm trying to build because it will serve a need for the community. ”
To Angieri, supporting and attracting startups means bringing St. Louis back to the glory of its heyday. Efforts like Arch Grants, he said, make St. Louis viable for everyone, business owners or otherwise. “Through a variety of factors, [St. Louis] has seen a significant economic decline. … If we are to build a more vibrant, a more equitable future forward, we need to engage radical solutions as innovators, entrepreneurs and help them take the reins of this region to a whole new level.”
For more about Arch Grants Founders, including the personal inspiration behind Pierre Paul’s We Hear You, listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or Google Podcast, or by clicking the play button below.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Ulaa Kuziez is our production intern. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to email@example.com.