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We are looking for the best and brightest underrepresented entrepreneurs with creative solutions, technologies, and business models for improving the region's economic disparities. Here is how one founder, who participated in the inaugural cohort of the accelerator, described his experience:

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About the Accelerator Program:

Winning founders will receive $50,000 in non-dilutive capital and access to a best-in-class business development program which includes access to networks, mentors, subject matter experts, and customized educational support. Founders will be connected to University of Missouri-St. Louis resources including paid student interns, active alumni, and engaged faculty to provide research support, assistance with grant applications, and other guidance. Other benefits include various in-kind technology support and direct resources, free dedicated workspace during the program, and more. To close the program, participating founders will showcase their businesses to community members, UMSL students and faculty, and potential third-party investors. Once the program ends, each entrepreneur will receive additional months of shared incubator space.

Applicant Eligibility:

The most competitive applicants will be:

  • Based in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area,
  • People of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, veterans, women, and/or social enterprises,
  • Focused on business models that are scalable and impactful, and
  • Near- or post-revenue.

Perks & Benefits for Winning Founders:

Winning founders will receive the following perks and benefits:

  • $50,000 cash award, equity free for ~5-6 founders,
  • 16-week exclusive, customized business development program,
  • One lead mentor to serve as accountability coach,
  • Paid student intern for 20 hours a week for eight weeks,
  • Access to faculty and researchers to amplify enterprise with possible grants and further research,
  • Access to 100,000+ UMSL alumni,
  • Bench of subject matter experts for technical support and customer introductions,
  • Various in-kind technology support and direct resources,
  • Demo day to pitch business to St. Louis startup ecosystem for further support,
  • Free dedicated work space during program, and
  • Additional months of incubator space post-program.

Responsibilities for Winning Founders:

Winning founders will be responsible for the following:

  • Complete submission of initial application and subsequent due-diligence documentation;
  • Participate in pitch competition, announcement event, and demo day;
  • Fully attend 16-week business development program;
  • Submit semi-annual reporting of business progress post-program;
  • Sign a founder commitment letter; and
  • Grow their company in Greater St. Louis.

Pitch Deck Template:

Whether or not you applied to the accelerator and/or were invited to participate in accelerator the pitch competition, we wanted to share with you a PowerPoint template you are welcome to modify and use during your next "live" pitch presentation about your startup. With just eight slides, the template provides a framework for efficiently discussing some of the most critical questions that potential accelerators (or potential investors or other stakeholders) may have about your company:

  • To what extent do you understand the problem facing your customers?
  • How viable is your team's solution?
  • How much traction do you have?
  • How much plausible impact is there for Greater St. Louis based on your startup?
  • How well-developed is your plan to take full advantage of the accelerator?
  • To what extent do you have the ability and commitment to execute your vision?

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