Startup Voodoo: Can a New Tech Conference Make St. Louis the Tech Hub of the Midwest?

Categories: Tech

Startup Voodoo
There's something special, a secret ingredient that separates successful startups from ideas that never get off the ground.

Aaron Perlut, founder at Elasticity, says it's more than just having a great idea or being able to share your idea with investors. Perlut calls it "special sauce," but it might as easily be called luck.

Startup Voodoo, a Midwest tech conference coming to Ballpark Village in September, is named for that special, galvanizing force that propels motivated and imaginative entrepreneurs to launch new services, products and apps.

"People think about startups like there's some sort of magic, there's some sort of juice that makes it sexy," says Edward Domain, chief executive operator at Techli and a founder of Startup VooDoo with Perlut. "With a startup, you start with nothing and you work your ass off to make something grow. You can start your own path in life, live the way you want. [Entrepreneurs] tend to reject the status quo, and I think 'voodoo' is a fun play on that."

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Want to Be an Invisible Girlfriend? St. Louis Startup Needs Selfies for Fake Relationships

Categories: Tech

The Bull Pen on Flickr
"Wouldn't you love to pretend to date us?"
Invisible Girlfriend wants your selfies.

The St. Louis startup, which made national headlines and $3,000 after winning a local startup competition in November, posted an ad on Craigslist looking for selfies for the company's database of fake-but-convincing girlfriends.

If you send in your selfie, Invisible Girlfriend will use it -- along with fake texts, gifts, voicemails and more -- to "prove" to the friends, family and coworkers of some far-away stranger that the two of you are in a relationship.

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Billionaire CEO Jack Dorsey Says He Is Totally "Still Punk"

Categories: Tech

David Shankbone/Wikimedia
Jack Dorsey is still totally punk rock.
Just because one is a billionaire CEO who lives in a mansion and loves spreadsheets and oatmeal, "especially from an oatmeal bar," St. Louis' most famous tech entrepreneur insists he is still totally punk rock.

Back in the day, Dorsey rocked blue hair and played in bands. Then he stopped and became rich. But in an example of how completely punk-rock Dorsey still is, he says the lessons he learned from his punk days are what helps drive technological innovation and improves business.

"I'm still a punk," Dorsey tells CNN Money. "What was amazing to me about the punk scene, which is why I got into it, is because there was this confidence of 'I'm not going to go off, be shy about learning how to be a musician.'"

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St. Louis' Inferiority Complex is Driving Innovation: New York Magazine

Categories: Tech

Shawn Semmler on Flickr
People should live in St. Louis, says New York Magazine.
When coastal outlets write about St. Louis, we brace ourselves for bad news.

What will it be this time? Stories about how dangerous our city is? National airings of our local dirty laundry? Even that cute Huffington Post list about hidden gems in St. Louis read like its author had never actually deigned to fly here.

But there's a change in the air. As St. Louis exponentially grows its central corridor with more tech startups, research institutions and the millennial-friendly businesses that keep those employees happy, people are seeing the Lou in a new light: as an up-and-coming urban tech hub.

Nothing makes this more evident than a recent listicle from New York Magazine's Kevin Roose, titled "5 Reasons Cities Are Getting Better, And Everywhere Else Is Getting Worse." In a time when living outside the technological advantages of a modern city is "tantamount to opting to live in the past," Roose says, St. Louis has come to perfectly embody some of the most successful habits of highly successful cities.

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Growing Plates Into Plants: Arch Grants Bring Colombian Startup's Big Idea to St. Louis

Categories: Environment, Tech

Andres Benavides and Claudia Isabel Barona, the founders of LIFEPACK.
Eco-friendly restaurants like Pi Pizzeria, Schlafly and Local Harvest Cafe pride themselves on choosing recyclable or biodegradable materials for items like to-go boxes, plasticware and cups.

But a Colombian startup is taking going green to a whole new level by manufacturing plates that act as seeds, growing new plants whether they end up buried in your back yard or in a landfill.

Now that startup, called LIFEPACK, is moving from South America to St. Louis after winning one of twenty Arch Grants, a $50,000 non-equity grant designed to attract tech talent to St. Louis.

LIFEPACK's founders, Andres Benavides and Claudia Isabel Barona, say moving from Valle del Cauca, Colombia, to St. Louis brings them one step closer to expanding their market -- and their ecological mission -- in the U.S.

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LaunchCode Brings David Malan to St. Louis for Harvard-Style Hackathon

Categories: Tech

David Malan, Harvard's rockstar computer-science lecturer.
David Malan, the Harvard professor credited with revitalizing computer-science studies at the Ivy League school, is coming to St. Louis to help budding programmers in the first hackathon outside of Cambridge.

Harvard students have been holding "hackathons," all-night, collaborative coding events complete with a 5 a.m. trip to IHOP, for years to finish year-end projects with the help of Malan, his teaching assistants and other coders.

Now, St. Louis coding students will have the same chance to learn from one of the nation's leading computer-science experts.

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High-Tech Workshop Where Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey Built Square Eyeing St. Louis

Categories: Tech

Inventors need workshops. Thomas Edison built his in Menlo Park, New Jersey, and it's there that he hit upon the incandescent light-bulb; Nikola Tesla's mythic New York lab contained only God-knows-what. (Teleporters, probably.)

But when St. Louisans Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey needed a prototype for a mobile payment platform, they went to TechShop in Menlo Park, California. TechShop is a membership based workshop stocked with every tool a tinkerer could want. That's how McKelvey and Dorsey built the first Square credit card reader in 2009.

TechShop is eyeing St. Louis for expansion, and the possibility has the city's technology and innovation community hustling to gin up interest and funding.

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

Categories: Tech

Phillie Casablanca on Flickr
Investments in tech startups doubled in 2013, according to ITEN.
There's more money pouring into to St. Louis' tech startup scene, and it's bringing workers from the U.S. and abroad to the city, says a new report.

Financial investments into tech startups doubled in 2013 to more than $66 million from $30 million in 2012, and more local startups received funding than ever before, the IT Entrepreneurial Network (ITEN) says in a new report.

The year 2013 saw an upswing in funding and community partnerships, which means the tech scene in St. Louis "is growing into its adolescence, and after a thorough exam, it appears to be an increasingly healthy ecosystem," says the St. Louis Tech Startup Report.

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Get A Job: Mapquest Co-Founder Chris Heivly Brings Technology Job Fair to St. Louis

Categories: Tech

Chris Heivly wants to get you hired.
No suits. No resumes. If you're looking for a job in St. Louis' technology industry, Mapquest co-founder Chris Heivly wants you to bring your business card and your smile to his sixth circus-themed job fair -- the first in St. Louis.

"As a job seeker, you never get a chance to look someone in the eye," Heivly tells Daily RFT. "Here's your chance."

Heivly is bringing his pet project, Tech Jobs Under the Big Top, to St. Louis Thursday after five similar, successful job fairs in North Carolina, where he lives and manages The Startup Factory.

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Launch Code: How 42 "Unqualified" People Landed Dream Tech Jobs in St. Louis

Categories: Tech

wonderlane via flickr
Launchcode matches aspiring computer programmers with jobs.
The state of the technology industry in St. Louis reads like a bad Craigslist missed connection: companies need people, St. Louis has people, but the two just can't match up where it counts.

When Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey -- both St. Louisans and the cofounders of the ubiquitous mobile payment company Square -- needed a home for their new venture, the Lou was at the top of the list.

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