Kauffman Foundation Announces Grant to ITEN to Expand Research Capabilities

St. Louis-based tech entrepreneur accelerator establishes a benchmark model for startup ecosystems

(KANSAS CITY, Mo. and ST. LOUIS) June 25, 2014 – The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today announced a grant to ITEN, a 501(c)3 organization that provides a precedent-setting structure for entrepreneurs to contribute to the growth and success of the St. Louis startup ecosystem.

The grant will provide $100,000 per year over the next two years to allow ITEN to expand and tabulate the tech startup ecosystem in St. Louis and link with other entrepreneur-support organizations.

ITEN's metric-based system tracks the interactions and connections that may reveal patterns of behavior predictive of entrepreneurial success or failure. ITEN will collaborate with the Foundation on other research projects and create a model and template that startup communities across the United States can adopt.

"Currently, research on programs for entrepreneurs and regional entrepreneurial ecosystems is lacking," said Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. "ITEN is a standout organization that provides a means for studying groups of entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial phenomena within a group setting. Our grant will help to further that research." 

ITEN provides a benchmark model for fostering startup success by incorporating the strengths of incubators and accelerators – education, development and critical connections – but without the financial or equity commitment those organizations often require from young companies.

"As entrepreneurship continues to become a more mainstream element of economic development strategies in regions like St. Louis and beyond, ITEN's organic development and broad community reach experiences are timely and potentially replicable," said Francis Chmelir, director of Operations for ITEN. "ITEN is creating a 'playbook' of those experiences and strategies that other regions can study and iterate to implement their own community-supported programs." 

ITEN's core offerings to accelerate tech startups include:

Business Model Validation Entrepreneurs at the concept stage are paired with experienced mentors to help identify the problem, solution and customer that the business will target, and to create a viable revenue model.

Mock Angel Program provides "tough love" from mentor/investors who critique the entrepreneur's investor pitch and provide constructive criticism, explaining why they would or would not invest in the business. Graduates are introduced to investors, with nearly 80 percent receiving outside funding.

EIR provides an Entrepreneur in Residence to selected ventures. EIRs work closely with their selected venture to provide a hands-on, strategic approach for rapid acceleration.

Talent Network Enabling tech startups to find the talent they need, ITEN maintains an extensive network of talent-producing and talent-finding organizations interested in the opportunities emerging from ITEN's ventures.

Community Involvement Through support of the Kauffman Lab's 1 Million Cups presentation series, educational programming such as ITEN 2nd Thursday, and targeted networking and development opportunities through SIGs (Special Interest Groups), ITEN links entrepreneurs with like-minded entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, civic organizations and talent

Additional major sponsors of ITEN include Civic Progress, Missouri Technology Corporation (MTC), St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, Gateway to Innovation Conference, Century Link, St. Louis Arch Angels, AHM Insurance Group, Greensfelder, iSelect Fund, Polsinelli and Stone Carlie.

About ITEN
ITEN provides a foundational system for entrepreneurs to work together towards building strong startups and a vibrant tech ecosystem. ITEN provides unique programs, events and access to resources that accelerate tech venture success. ITEN's programs form a venture roadmap from concept through design, prototype, launch, revenue, funding and rapid scaling. Guidance from serial entrepreneurs, subject matter experts and important community influencers helps entrepreneurs focus on essential critical tasks and avoid wasted efforts. Access to investors, key service providers and qualified talent means lower barriers to rapid growth. Designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, requiring neither payment nor equity, ITEN is a unique community asset and a proven route to venture success. Follow ITEN on Twitter and Facebook.