Online platform connecting employers to job candidates with disabilities receives $25k in equity-free capital; Freight & motor carrier services startup Brilliant Audacity Conveyance wins People’s Choice Award, $5k prize
v15able, a St. Louis-based startup that connects employers to job candidates with disabilities, 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.
“We want to ensure that St. Louis wins this next decade by expanding opportunity in the metro so that everyone can thrive,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc. “We are working relentlessly to implement the STL 2030 Jobs Plan and promote the new energy, ideas, and thinking of entrepreneurs like our Diverse Business Accelerator participants, who are creating new jobs, driving investment, and establishing new wealth-building opportunities for everyone in our region.”
The DBA is in its fourth year of operation and has overseen nine cohorts of diverse startups.
“We were excited to be able to host the Final Pitch Competition in person and get audience members involved through the People’s Choice Award,” added Lakesha Mathis, Director of the Diverse Business Accelerator. “Our thanks go to our panelists, sponsors, mentors, and program partners who helped make this year’s Diverse Business Accelerator cohorts and award competition so special.”
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 Alex Fennoy, St. Louis Community Credit Union; Alketa Ceta, BMO Harris Bank; and Jacqueline Buck Horton, Sterling Bank.
In addition to the competition’s winner – v15able, founded by Letisha Wexstten – the following startups, all of which participated in the DBA this year, presented at the Final Pitch:
- A. Phillips Productions. Multi-media production services. (Presenter: Melanie Phillip)
- Brick City Stickers. Makes custom, die-cut stickers. (Presenter: Rebecca Bolte)
- Brilliant Audacity Conveyance. Freight and motor carrier services. (Presenter: Kenneth Johnson)
- Clinical Research Concierge. Pharmaceutical and medical device research support. (Presenter: Chekaya Glaspie)
- Reimagine Resources. Fitness, sports, and outdoor equipment. (Presenter: Juliana Scheidhauer)
- Simply Sweet Sensations. Luxury cake boutique. (Presenter: Jair Edwards)
For the second 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, Brilliant Audacity Conveyance, received a $5,000 prize.
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 Diverse Business Accelerator is for ethnically, racially, and gender-diverse business owners looking to advance their enterprise’s capacity to grow. In the span of three months, program participants will 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