Queritel Corp., the St. Louis-based startup behind Figozo, will receive $25,000 in equity-free capital as the winner of the Final Pitch Competition, organized by the Greater St. Louis, Inc. Diverse Business Accelerator. The DBA supports ethnically, racially, and gender-diverse business owners looking to advance their enterprise’s capacity to grow.
“There is momentum building in the St. Louis metro. To reach our full potential, we must continue to expand opportunities so everyone in our metro can thrive,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc. “That’s why we lead with intention through programs like the Diverse Business Accelerator and our Fellows Experience and why we are laser-focused on inclusive economic growth as our north star.”
The Final Pitch
After hearing pitches from the Final Pitch Competition participants, a panel of business professionals from DBA sponsor organizations voted on the winner. This year’s panelists were: LaTonya Jackson, St. Louis Community Credit Union; Johny Sanchez, BMO Harris Bank; Sara Mesiano, Arch Grants; Chekaya Glaspie, Clinical Research Concierge; and Lynne Lang, Restoration Matters. Glaspie and Lang are alumni of the DBA.
“We had a great cohort of businesses this year that made the Final Pitch Competition our best yet. They are a perfect example of why we say St. Louis is a place where you can start up, stand out, and stay,” said Lakesha Mathis, Greater St. Louis, Inc. Vice President for Strategy. “We want to thank our panelists, sponsors, mentors, and program partners who worked with our businesses throughout the year and helped make the competition so meaningful.”
In addition to the competition’s winner – Queritel Corp., – the following businesses, all of which participated in this year’s DBA cohort, presented at the Final Pitch Competition, held in the Andrew C. Taylor Center for Civic Collaboration at Greater St. Louis, Inc.:
- Buzzed Bull Creamery, represented by Ellen Tisdale: a creamery that uses liquid nitrogen to create ice cream and milkshakes.
- Florae, represented by Dr. Natalie King: a personalizable, plant-based hair wellness brand.
- Queritel Corp., represented by Shani Bennett, created Figozo, a tool for solo entrepreneurs to create AI agents to run their business (vetting prospects, answering customers, taking bookings, handling follow ups)
- KimHEC, LLC, represented by Kimberley Cole: a specialized water treatment consulting firm.
- Top Tutors for Us, represented by Angelica Harris: which connects Black students with top-of-the-line tutors that look like them.
For the third year in a row, the Final Pitch Competition included a People’s Choice Award, selected by audience members at the competition. This year’s People’s Choice Award winner, Top Tutors for Us, received a $5,000 prize. Top Tutors for Us was recently featured as an STLMade startup on theSTL.com.
About GSL’s Diverse Business Accelerator
Directly aligned with the STL 2030 Jobs Plan priority to create a world-class ecosystem for small businesses and entrepreneurs, the DBA – which has now overseen ten cohorts of diverse startups – is for ethnically, racially, and gender-diverse business owners looking to advance their enterprise’s capacity to grow. Program participants learn how to develop actionable business expansion goals, market, and communicate their services, make meaningful business connections, and identify the capital and resources required to support growth.
The DBA program features a strategic curriculum facilitated by business coaches, professional services consultants (accounting, legal, and brand marketing experts), and mentors. Within a welcoming and stimulating environment, participants will build a growth plan for their business by focusing on marketing, networking, resource management, and finance.
The DBA includes 12 weeks of group sessions and nine hours of additional one-on-one coaching. The program concludes with the Final Pitch Competition.
Diverse Business Accelerator Impact
Business owners from previous cohorts have shared that the knowledge and insights they gained through the DBA fueled their personal growth and confidence, as well as the size and revenue of their business. A survey of recent graduates summarizes some of the measurable outcomes many have achieved:
- 90% report a significant increase in business knowledge.
- 66% report revenue increases of 10% or more.
- 71% have added jobs since program completion, with 60% adding an average of 3 jobs.
To learn more about the Greater St. Louis, Inc. Diverse Business Accelerator, visit: https://greaterstlinc.com/dba