Entrepreneurs from across the world are taking part in the Ameren Accelerator in St. Louis, Missouri. This top-ranked program is the best in the Midwest. It offers entrepreneurs everything from investment capital and office space, to marketing and accounting services.
“We’re working on basically anything and everything an entrepreneur needs to know to become a better operator and scale their business more efficiently,” said Brian Dixon, COO of Capital Innovators. Capital Innovators and Fortune 500 energy utility company Ameren have teamed up to create a 12-week accelerator program that helps companies in the energy solutions industry get off the ground. “We can, on a dime, get companies to expand incredibly fast, because of the mentorship mechanisms we’ve built in,” said Dixon.
Since its inception 3 years ago, 19 companies have gone through the program. One of those is ClearFlame Engines. “We’re kind of the opposite of a typical start up – we left Silicon Valley to come to the Midwest to start our company, and that’s really paid off in terms of the manufacturing, industrial, and hardware resources that are here,” said BJ Johnson, ClearFlame’s Co-Founder and CEO. Johnson, says he’s pleasantly surprised by Missouri’s business community.
“The expertise in manufacturing that exists in this city is fairly hard to come by and that’s been a great resource for us,” said Johnson.
“St. Louis is becoming a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship and startups, and Ameren is proud to be a part of that,” said Steve Kidwell, VP Corporate Planning, Ameren.
Companies in the Ameren Accelerator spend weeks with the area’s top executives and successful entrepreneurs. They fine-tune their business plans, and the accelerator ends with Demo Day, where companies pitch to a crowd of investors and potential customers.
“It’s really an opportunity for all of the businesses to get up there and wave the flag in terms of this is what I’ve been able to accomplish, this where my business is headed, and if you’re interested come talk to me from a customer or investor perspective,” said Dixon.
“We’re following the companies as they grow and evolve, and we’ll do the same thing here,” said Kidwell.
That support doesn’t go unnoticed by these entrepreneurs. “You do get very aware early on as a founder when people don’t actually care about you being there, or people don’t actually think you’re worth their time, and I’ve never gotten that reception in this city. With the accelerator, with Ameren, or with anyone.”