St. Louis Arch Grants Finalist Weekend

By April 25, 2014

Dheeraj Patri, Ola Ayeni, Kathleen (T-Rex Coordinator), Jeffry Harrison, Andrea Robertson and Gilda Campos discuss their Arch Grants experience to finalists


Friday, April 25th- This weekend St. Louis’ Arch Grants competition invited the 60+ finalists to town to make their final business presentation to judges and get a tour of everything St. Louis has to offer to their startups should they win an Arch Grant.

Arch Grants is a competition unique in the nation- currently in its third year, it awards cash grants of $50,000 to startups in return for them moving their business to downtown St. Louis.  In the past two years, Arch Grants has been responsible for 35 companies being located in St. Louis and helped transform the downtown area into a dense hub of startup activity.

“We’ve had applicants from multiple states and countries from around the world apply for an Arch Grant,” said Jerry Schlichter, founder of Arch Grants.  “We’re all very excited to have you here, and wish you the best of luck.”

The finalists started the day today with continental breakfast at a panel meeting comprised of former Arch Grants winners and moderated by me, Edward Domain. (Techli won an Arch Grant in the first class, 2012 and is headquartered in downtown St. Louis).

The panel (pictured above) was comprised of representatives from Food Essentials, Eateria, Rovertown, Triflare and Candylab, all previous Arch Grants recipients.


Operations Director for Arch Grants Ben Burke addresses the finalists on what to expect this weekend

Each of the panelists had a unique story but all shared enthusiasm for St. Louis:

 “In Chicago,” said Dheeraj Patri of Food Essentials, “we [Food Essentials] struggled for a long time and no one was interested in us.  We just assumed that’s how it was.  After winning an Arch Grant and moving to St. Louis, we couldn’t be happier.”  (To date Food Essentials has raised over $600K in funding.)

“When I moved my family here,” commented Ola Ayeni of Eateria, “our neighbors took my wife out for coffee and brought us food as a welcome.  In 17 years in Chicago none of our neighbors spoke to us.  St. Louis has been great for my family and wonderful fro my business.  When I need something, Arch Grants helps me get access to it.”

Jeffry Harrison of Rovertown concurred.  “Any time we need anything, we email Ben or Ginger (Arch Grants Operations Director and Executive Director) and they always help us out.  Being in St. Louis has allowed us to grow faster than we might have somewhere else.”

Andrea Robertson, Triflare: “My company makes triathlete clothing for racers, and after I won an Arch Grant, my experience was amazing.  It was just what my company needed and allowed us to grow much faster than we would have without it.”

Gilda Campos, Candylab: “I lived in San Diego my whole life and when we got into the finals for Arch Grants, it was nerve wracking and very exciting as we drove across the country to be here.  Now, I’m really glad.  St. Louis has been a great place for us to do business.”

When the new Arch Grants recipients are awarded, the recipients will be moving into downtown St. Louis in July.