St. Louis Startup News: Lab 1500 Getting Paint Job, Better Life in the 'Shark Tank,' Farmplicity Digging In

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

The (Lab 1500) Wall

The STL Mural Project has surpassed their Kickstarter goal to paint a mural on the western facade of Lab 1500 at 1500 Washington Avenue. With 57 hours to go in the 30-day campaign, STL Mural Project had received pledges for $8,630 of the $8,500 goal. The campaign ends on Nov. 1. The mural design team will be led by Theresa Hopkins, Megan Rieke, and Chelsea Marie Ritter-Soronen. According to the STL Mural Project Kickstarter page, the mural will be “a visual fusion of entrepreneurship and creativity (and) will visually showcase innovation, entrepreneurship, and the boldly creative nature of the Art and Entrepreneurship communities in St. Louis.” As a free-form coalition of artists, activists and art-loving citizens, the STL Mural Project believes in the power of public art to transform urban environments anywhere. The group offers meetings and social media outlets to share ideas and gain support for projects to create more public art in St. Louis.

The facade at Lab 1500 will get some love from STL Mural Project. Photo courtesy of STL Mural Project.

The facade at Lab 1500 will get some love from STL Mural Project. Photo courtesy of STL Mural Project.

Shark Attack

Speaking of Lab 1500, Tim Barklage and Kevin Tibbs, co-founders of all-natural cleaning products company Better Life, will host a viewing party for their appearance on “Shark Tank”—the hit reality TV show where treps pitch venture capital investors—this Friday from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m at Lab 1500. If you can’t make the screening, the show will air on ABC (KDNL) at 8 p.m. “Shark Tank” investors include Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and chairman of AXS TV; real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran; “Queen of QVC” Lori Greiner; technology innovator Robert Herjavec; fashion and branding expert Daymond John; and venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary. Barklage and Tibbs created Better Life after finding that most so-called green cleaning supplies were actually little more than watered-down versions of the toxic products people were already using. Due to contractual agreements, the pair can’t disclose the outcome of the show. Their products are sold worldwide.

Down on the Farm-plicity

Farmplicity—an online marketplace that allows restaurants to purchase produce directly from farmers—has been slowly but surely gaining traction. Next month, they could shift into high gear. Jolijt Tamanaha, founder of Farmplicity, is a finalist in the Global Student Entrepreneur of the Year competition. The company came out of Washington University’s impressive Hatchery class, which has also produced Yurbuds, International Schoolhouse, Material Mix and Janji. At the finals in Washington on Nov. 20-22, Tamanaha will pitch against Brigham Young student, Spencer Quinn, CEO of FiberFix, a repair wrap that the company claims is 100 times stronger than duct tape. Farmplicity has not accepted any outside investment, so the award will help the company expand locally on the road to national expansion. Currently, the site’s customers include 80 farmers and 70 chefs.

St. Louis Top Tech Town

After analyzing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dice.com has cited Missouri as the fastest growing state for tech employment in 2012. Already the state is clocking a strong growth rate for 2013 with 1,800 jobs added, with St. Louis as the top Missouri city. The report comes on the heels of Dice’s March report in which St. Louis was ranked as the fastest growing city for technology jobs. St. Louis—with tech job postings up 25 percent—beat out Charlotte, N.C., (22 percent), Austin, Texas (16 percent), Phoenix (13 percent) and Detroit (10 percent). The report also listed the average salary for St. Louis tech positions, which at $81,245—compared to $71,000 two years ago—is below the national average of $85, 619. But then, money is worth more in St. Louis. Slogan. Trademark.

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