St. Louis Startup News: Rookies Hits a Round-Tripper, simMachines Predicts the Future, Pushup Social Going Global

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Rookies Knocks It Outta the Park

Rookies—the company founded by Matt Sebek in 2013 that creates custom-made, vintage-style baseball cards—has hit back-to-back home runs. The first came when the Cleveland Indians used Rookies to create their own Team Valentine’s Day cards. The second came when the Tampa Bay Rays management saw the Indian’s cards and decided to get in on the fun as well. The Rays will ask fans to create their own card with the Rookies app of themselves or their favorite player practicing or playing at spring training. Sebek says the national exposure lends his company credibility and increases their exposure. In fact the company expects record sales figures next month.

Photo Courtesy of Rookie

Photo Courtesy of Rookie

SimMachines Thinking

Are you ready for artificial intelligence? SimMachines, a startup that moved to St. Louis from Costa Rica in 2012 as part of the Arch Grants program, recently used their technology back in Costa Rica to analyze tweets in the month leading up to the country’s Feb. 2 general election. This allowed them to project the political party layout of Costa Rica’s legislative assembly with more accuracy than any of the traditional methods. The company maintains that the experiment proves the future of opinion polling should be in artificial intelligence. Although simMachines used their technology in this case to predict election results, there are many other real world uses for it, such as allowing brands to analyze their consumers and accurately predict what people are saying about a particular product or idea.

Arch Granted

The applications for 2014 Arch Grants are in, and though Arch Grants officials aren’t releasing the final number of applications received (they’re more concerned with the quality of applicants rather than the number of them), at one point 330 applications from 28 states and 20 countries had been received with plenty of time to go until deadline, especially since hordes of applications come in at the last minute. The buzz among Arch Grant board members is that the quality of applicants is up over previous years. This year’s applicants show an increase in consumer products companies, which barely lead technology, business services and consumer services. St. Louis is well-represented, and applications from out of state and out of the country have increased.

Pushing Pushup Social

Pushup Social is planning to launch globally this summer. The decision comes after the company raised $300,000 in angel capital from a local private investment group, including Chris Sommers, founder of Pi Pizzeria, and Givver, the app that allows Twitter users to tweet donations to their favorite causes. The company—founded in June 2013 by Dan Lohman, Jan Christian Andersen and Yomi Toba—allows an existing website to embed a social network without much fuss. Lohman says the first part of the new year will be used to test Pushup Social in specific industries, then execute a global launch.

Tech Town

Dice.com, which tracks IT jobs, has said for the second consecutive year that Missouri is the fastest-growing state of technology employment. Missouri realized an 8 percent increase in tech employment over the previous year, adding 2,700 jobs, beating out its nearest competitors Massachusetts at 8.1 percent, Illinois at 6.6 percent, and Texas at 5.8 percent. The startup scenes in both St Louis and Kansas City are partly responsible for Missouri’s strong showing. The state boasted 34,700 tech workers at the end of 2013.

In this corner…Lockerdome!

Floyd Mayweather Jr., one of the most successful boxers of all time, used a LockerDome poll to let fans choose whom he would fight in his next big pugilistic prize contest. Fans could choose between Amir Khan or Marcos Maidana, and though Kahn apparently won the vote, Mayweather chose Maidana anyway. Khan said it was a blow beneath the belt. “I clearly won his official poll, by a significant margin, but for unknown reasons he decided to ignore the fans’ vote and failed to keep his word, disappointing many fight fans who took the time to vote,” Kahn was quoted as saying in The Sporting News. According to one report, Lockerdome officials put the tally at 20,105 votes for Kahn to 15,474 for Maidana. The welterweight title fight between Mayweather and Maidana will take place on May 3, location to be announced.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly

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