As part of the Summer Internship Program, the Skandalaris Center is hosting six panel discussions with St. Louis area startups who are hosting students through the program. These panel discussions are open to the public. We will recap the panels and share important insights from local ventures.
This week the Skandalaris Center hosted the fourth edition of the St. Louis Venture panel series. This special edition of the series was designed as part of the Simon Initiative, a program created to develop a distinctive ecosystem of women entrepreneurs, advisors, mentors, and investors, and featured a panel of representatives from women-led ventures. Jessica Zodicoff, (LA ’21), a summer intern at Generation Mindful, moderated the panel, and was joined by the following speakers:
- Linda Arnold, of The Arnold Group, a real estate team that provides buyer and seller services in all areas of St. Louis and St. Charles County with a focused emphasis on the Highway 70 and 40/64 corridor from Highway 270 to Wentzville.
- Murielle Gaither, Founder and CEO of Outside360, a peer-to-peer marketplace that connects Hosts and Users through online listings for outdoor recreational opportunities.
- Kim Moos, Founder of Cotton Cuts, the first and only online provider of fabric for quilters delivering monthly customized fabric subscription boxes.
- Kara Newmark, Founder and CEO of Sweetology, the first of its kind company delivering entertainment retail around the decoration of baked goods.
- Barbara Pozzi, Founder and CEO of Digital Medical Arts, creators of MAX – an innovative software platform that delivers an interactive multimedia education experience to patients.
The panel began with the entrepreneurs sharing a little about themselves and their business, along with how they got started. All of the women shared that their path to entrepreneurship was a journey.
- Kara Newmark is a lawyer by training who learned that she didn’t want to be a practicing attorney. After the market crashed while she was working for her first startup she started her own consulting company. After that she discovered that she wanted her work to be something that she loves, wants to do everyday, and makes people happy.
- Murielle Gaither began with a problem that she and her family were having when they inherited a large farm in Central Missouri and need to find a way to monetize its outdoor recreation potential.
- For Barbara Pozzi, her co-founders are physicians who saw a need for technology in medical offices to enhance communication with patients.
- Linda Arnold was a nurse for 20 years and when she lost her job in the hospital system she decided she wanted to do something different. She started flipping properties and then earned her real estate license.
- Kim Moos was a biomedical engineer with an MBA who was bored with her job. After she read an article about subscription boxes, she realized there were none for quilting. One day when she had an interview at a potential new job, pitched an idea to her employer at the time, and talked about her business concept for the first time all in the same day, she decided to go all in on her business concept.
Next the panelists addressed leading teams and navigating the stigma that faces women leaders – she’s bossy vs. she’s the boss. Most of the panelists agreed that you must understand yourself as a leader and give your employees opportunities to learn and grow through engagement and communication.
The panelists also shared the importance of branding for all of their businesses. They’ve found that branding is everything and consistency is key.
When asked how they would encourage young women entrepreneurs the panelists mentioned the importance of connecting with the community of women and entrepreneurs that exists in St. Louis and across the world. They also shared the importance of taking advantage of resources. One panelist stressed that you have to be ok with failing and getting past the fear.
As with all of the St. Louis Venture Panels this one ended with the entrepreneurs answering why they are here in St. Louis. Kara Moos worked for a major company that was leaving St. Louis because of what they called a lack of talent. She decided to start her business here to prove them wrong. Murielle Gaither has found that St. Louis has incredible talent, a great community and environment. Her company is from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, which is about two hours from St. Louis, and they commute to T-Rex because the community is so valuable. She also loves the way the universities especially WashU invest in the community. Linda Arnold loves the affordability. She’s found that people have a lot of misconceptions but people who transfer to St. Louis never want to leave. For Kara Newmark it’s where she is and has started her family. Barbara Pozzi has a similar story as both she and her co-founders are from St. Louis.