St. Louis Startup News: LockerDome's Secret Playbook, Muzio's Chamberlin Gets Top Trep Nod, Capital Innovators Comes in Close Second

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

She’s My Muzio
“It is extremely humbling to be mentioned among such inspiring women,” says Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin, who was just named by Tech Cocktail in the article, “15 Female Entrepreneurs You Should Know About (But Probably Don’t).” Chamberlin co-founded content curation app Muzio along with partner Elizabeth Buchanan, both of whom call St. Louis home. The term “content curation” doesn’t quite do Muzio justice: Think of it as more of a living photo spread in a glossy magazine, and that includes videos, audio clips, notes and quotes from a device or social network, then arranged via intuitive touch with a single finger.

Elizabeth Buchanan and Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin Co-founders of Muzio. Courtesy of Muzio

Elizabeth Buchanan and Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin
Co-founders of Muzio. Courtesy of Muzio

The app is getting a lot of interest in the music industry. Muzio recently collaborated with Atlantic Records to promote original content from singing duo Icona Pop. Chamberlin says the Tech Cocktail mention brings attention to the company. “Elizabeth and I work harder every day and are proud of our product,” Chamberlin says. “We have so much more to do and learn, but this recognition along the way is wonderful and encouraging.” To date, Muzio is entirely self-funded.

LockerDome’s Secret Playbook
LockerDome, the St. Louis-based sports social media website that has become the poster child for the local startup ecosystem, is expanding their playing field. When the new LockerDome rolls out (expected Thursday morning), users will see a more socially-oriented site as the company looks to capitalize on the popularity of social websites. With an eye on becoming a supercharged version of Pinterest, the site will evolve from its current sports-centric focus to a more all-inclusive approach, where people will share whatever content they’re interested in—including online videos, music and more. The site will differentiate from Facebook in that users will follow people with similar interests rather than follow people they know.

But LockerDome has another feature up their sleeve that might give them a leg up on others vying for a share of the market. Anyone who has posted on social media knows that when someone shares a post with their friends—who then may share with their friends and so on—the original poster can follow the share and subsequent shares only so far. The new LockerDome is expected to be able to track those shares and comments so the original poster will know how other users interacted with their post as it spreads—or not—throughout the site.

Founder Gabe Lozano explains that “when you post a photo, video, or article to LockerDome, we look for everyone on LockerDome that has posted the same content and merge you into an active conversation around that content.” Users then immediately find out how people have categorized the content and what people are saying about it. “We are the first social media platform to do this,” Lozano says.

The expansion of LockerDome’s mission is expected to increase their base of 20 million users, which in turn should attract more investors and set the company up for a large funding round—in the neighborhood of $25 million to $50 million—by the end of this year or beginning of the next.

Candy Lab Cake Walk
As the city gears up for its yearlong 250th birthday celebration, St. Louis-based startup Candy Lab is getting in on the anniversary action. The company, which specializes in augmented reality, has been tapped by stl250 to assist with its “Cakeway to the West,” which will place 4-foot ornamental birthday cakes at 250 historical locations around the city. While 200 of the cake’s locations will be determined by organizers, 50 of the coveted spots will be based on a public vote, currently underway.

Available on iOS and Android, Candy Lab’s mobile app will enable users to check-in and view information about each historical location through audio, video and fact sheets. Moreover, the augmented reality app will also offer users coupons and promotions for nearby businesses, as well as keep score on the number of cakes visited with prizes and awards available for those visiting the most. The locations of the cakes will be announced on Feb. 14 at the grand kickoff of the celebration, which includes the Burnin’ Love Festival on Art Hill, the Biggest Birthday Bash at the Missouri Historical museum and opening weekend of the museum’s 250 in 250 exhibit. Candy Lab’s efforts will be the United States’ longest and largest augmented reality campaign ever.

Capital Innovators Second Best?
According to Seed-DB, a database chronicling seed accelerators, St. Louis’ Capital Innovators is the second-best seed accelerator program in the country, at least in terms of average follow-on funding. Seed-DB writes that after graduating from the Capital Innovators accelerator program, startups go on to average $2.6 million in critical follow-on funding. All told, the 24 companies that have gone through CI’s accelerator have raised more than $62 million. So who beat them? Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator, viewed far and wide as the country’s most successful accelerator, having funded over 630 startups including Scribd, Reddit, Weebly, Dropbox, Disqus, and more. So by how much did they beat CI? Must have creamed them, right? No. They ranked above CI by less than $500,000.

CI’s ranking positively reflects on the vibrant early-stage investment community in St. Louis. The defining difference is the lack of big exits (where a startup gets bought up for a large amount of money) paying the really big dividends back to CI. Conversely, Y Combinator has had exits totaling more than $1.2 billion. The lack of big exits in the St. Louis startup community is a subject slowly taking center stage, and we can expect to hear the refrain more in the coming year. According to Rick Holton, general partner in Cultivation Capital, when St. Louis starts seeing some big exits, the city will gain more national respect as a startup city, thereby attracting more big money investors.

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