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SXSW ’14: FoodEssentials Wants to Build on Success, Capital Innovators Ranks

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St. Louisans walk the streets of Austin during the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (Michael Calhoun/KMOX)

St. Louisans walk the streets of Austin during the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (Michael Calhoun/KMOX)

calhoun2 Michael Calhoun
A native St. Louisan, Michael Calhoun grew up listening to the Voice...
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AUSTIN, Tex. (KMOX) – Meet me in.. Austin?

There are several St. Louisans at South by Southwest Interactive, but the founder of a fast-growing local company wants to kick it up a notch. He believes his success can be replicated to market the city as a whole and its burgeoning tech scene.

St. Louis-based FoodEssentials, which provides food label data, is seeing long lines for its second year in a row with a physical presence in Austin. And co-founder Anton Xavier wants more locals to also set up shop in the exhibit halls next year.

“To be honest, we feel that it’s a little bit disappointing,” he admitted Tuesday. “We’d love to see a lot more of the community coming down and raising awareness of St. Louis and the growth of the community that’s taking place right now.”

The convention center floor includes experiences touting cities like Chicago and Austin, states like Michigan and Virginia, and even overseas markets like Germany and Hong Kong.

Tech companies like Yahoo! and Samsung have transformed off-site locations, programming musical and comedy acts, staging lectures, and offering complimentary food and adult beverages. The festival is also a pop culture extravaganza, with Seth Meyers giving away Shake Shack and Jimmy Kimmel doing a week of shows from Austin.

“We’d love to see St. Louis get together and organize something so that we’re making a bigger noise while we’re down here,” Xavier said.

FoodEssentials’ exhibit is in a special section next to brands like Beats Audio and MapMyFitness.

Now, make no mistake — there are lots of St. Louisans at ‘South By.’

The rest of the local contingent is taking a different, more nimble approach, breaking free of the convention floor and using the massive gathering of technology, media, and marketing professionals as an individual networking opportunity.

Right off the bat, Ed Domain, founder of tech news website Techli, was caught by a KMOX mic pulling out his best sales pitch on a P.R. professional while eating some food truck grub.

Photo via @AccelerateSTL Twitter

Photo via @AccelerateSTL Twitter

KMOX’s Michael Calhoun sat down with FoodEssentials client manager Tyler Olsen about the SXSW experience in the video featured below:

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CAPITAL INNOVATORS ON TOP

Another St. Louis sighting at South by Southwest: Capital Innovators is ranked as the seventh best start-up accelerator in the country, according to a study released at the festival.

Capital Innovators not only invests $50,000 in small businesses in exchange for equity and a move to St. Louis, but provides them with mentoring, free office space and connections.

It just announced its spring 2014 class, which includes start-ups from Chicago; Springfield, Mo.; Columbia, Mo.; Nashville; and St. Louis.

The report, by researchers at MIT and the University of Virginia, took a look at several factors, including how many start-ups successfully graduated from the accelerator programs, how many survived on their own, their ability to find more investors later on, and the value of each accelerator’s portfolio after the initial investment.

You can read more at TechCrunch, which says it provided some data for the study.

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