Tech Startups Bring New Faces to St. Louis as Investment Dollars Double in 2013

Categories: Tech

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St. Louis needs more computer programmers.
A thriving ecosystem that matches startups with community partners -- like universities, training programs, business incubators and local governments -- is vital to a new tech company's success, say local entrepreneurs.

"To be able to actually reach out to someone who has built a startup here in this community, who knows the sources of funding, who knows people who will give honest advice -- all of those things have been wonderful," says Matt Homann, the founder of Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend, an app that creates a fake-but-believable lover for clients to show parents, co-workers or nosy exes.

"Startups are a different business than opening up a shop down the street. There aren't as many obvious models from which you can base your business."

Homann's team is new to the startup game, and he says he's been surprised at how helpful connected the scene is here...with one big exception: developers. There's a shortage of trained, accredited computer developers in the Lou, so the companies that find them hold on to them, Homann says.

Luckily, there's a community partnership for that, too. When Square co-founder Jim McKelvey settled his headquarters in San Francisco instead of his native St. Louis because of the paucity of developers, he founded Launch Code, which trains new developers and matches them with apprenticeships.

Tech startups added 827 jobs to the local economy in 2013, compared to 835 in 2012, according to the report.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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