We met at Crave near SLU's campus. If you haven't been, go. It's a church AND a coffee house! (http://www.cravestl.org/ for more info). Tyler grew up in Springfield, IL, a suburb of Memphis and Mississippi before moving to St. Louis to go to college. After finishing a degree in Entrepreneurship and International Business at SLU, he was asked to take on his current position, where he helps the student entrepreneurs market their projects and ideas. He works 25 hours per week which gives him time to work on his side projects. Including the app that he developed while he was in school, Swagulator. Do you think you have swag? Well you're not cool until you know EXACTLY how much swag you have. Check it out!
This app got Tyler into the tech scene locally. He attended the T-Rex Incubator 'Startup Weekend St. Louis' this past year. This is an event where people form groups and develop an idea. This goes on over a 54 hour time period and by the end you will have a new startup! It was at this event that Tyler met some friends and together they began developing an app called Kerosene that synchronizes a light show on your phone with others around you, for example at a concert or event.
Tyler was lucky enough to attend South By Southwest (SXSW) on a bus with St. Louis and Kansas City entrepreneurs this past year. The experience was incredible and on the bus it was decided that KC and STL need to work together more to develop startups and change the perception that the Midwest is a fly-over zone. He believes that in the next few years there will be a lot of collaboration between the neighbor states in the Midwest on startup projects.
The development of St. Louis businesses and brain drain are both issues that Tyler and I hashed out in pretty great detail. In his department at SLU, and at many other college campuses in the nation, there's concern about the number of out of town students that leave town after finishing college (he says about 90%). With programs like T-Rex happening, Tyler believes things are starting to change and talent is staying local. But...this winter was pretty tough for him so he MIGHT be a part of that statistic at some point. There are no plans to leave the area for now, though.
Insights: Creating something like an app, or a website, or a business can seem pretty intimidating if you don't know how to start. I think it's crucial to have a support system around you that you can bounce ideas off of. I'm so proud to live in St. Louis where we are creating all of these support systems.
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