Author: Cultivation Capital


About Cultivation Capital

Clifford Holekamp is a General Partner at Cultivation Capital. In addition, he serves as the Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship for the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. Companies that Cliff has founded include Foot Healers, Back Experts and Pacheco Capital. He serves as a board member or formal advisor to several start-up organizations including LockerDome, Yurbuds, SoMoLend, Schoology, The Danube Fund, and City Academy. Cliff is active in Entrepreneurs’ Organization and enjoys judging business plan competitions including Arch Grants and the Olin Cup. Cliff holds a B.A. from Washington & Lee University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. He worked as an account executive for IBM before beginning his entrepreneurial career.

Entrepreneurs have many options when it comes to raising money for a new business. From Kickstarter campaigns to venture capital investors, family loans to selling your own plasma (really?!)..these are a few of the alternative funding methods discussed on St. Louis Public Radio this week. 

Featured guests included:

  • Cliff Holekamp, Director of the Entrepreneurship Platform at the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Katie Lee, Founder and Owner of Katie’s Pizza and Pasta in Rock Hill. Last year, Lee raised about $40,000 through Kickstarter.
  • Steven Marciniak, Co-Founder & CEO of TrakBill, a St. Louis start-up that has received funding from a variety of sources including an Arch Grant and venture capital fund.

photo credit: origami_madness, Flickr Creative Commons

Rick Holton, MBA’04, General Partner in Cultivation Capital, is Edward Domain’s guest on this week. Rick says startups are making St. Louis cool again. He shares the qualities he looks for in an entrepreneur before investing.

techlireportTune in to the Domain Tech Report for more on the companies that Rick Holton likes in the tech and bio sectors.

Students presented their “competition pitches” to a panel of 20 entrepreneurs and investors from the St. Louis startup community during the last week of classes in December. There were 60 students participating on 16 teams in two flights.

The feedback from the judges was that this was the highest quality of pitches that they have ever seen in The Hatchery.  The students transformed their raw ideas to invest-able plans in one semester.  I am very proud of what they accomplished.

The judges’ results:

Thursday Flight:
#1. TeleREDI (telemedicine platform) led by EMBA student Javier Esteban
Varela, MD

#2. Zymplr (new football helmet technology) led by BSBA student Chisolm
Uche. Read more about this company in Olin Business Magazine.

#3. AirHop (private aviation concept) led by MBA Ryan Maher

Friday Flight:
#1. River City Distillery (craft whiskey distillery) led by BSBA
student Dara Baker

#2. The Reserve (online fashion marketplace) led by MBAs Leigh Farah
and Ashley Ross. Leigh was a guest on the Techli Domain Report with Prof. Holekamp and Andrews Brimmer’13 talking about The Hatchery course.

#3. Data TurnAround (data services) led by MBA Kris Klinkerman


Don Breckenridge

Olin graduates continue to make a strong mark on the St. Louis startup scene. This week Cultivation Capital was pleased to announce it is leading  $1.25 million dollar investment in Hatchbuck, an innovative and easy-to-use sales and marketing software for small businesses.

Hatchbuck’s founder, Don Breckenridge, Jr., is an Olin 1995 BSBA graduate.  As part of the deal, I will join the Hatchbuck board.

Deciding to invest in Hatchbuck was not a difficult decision for our team at Cultivation Capital.  Our analyst team of mainly Olin students worked on a diligence package to evaluate the deal. Our investment committee made the final decision to invest, based upon Hatchbuck’s pattern of increasing month-over-month growth. We want the opportunity to help drive that growth even further.  This round of funding will enable Hatchbuck’s team to reach more potential customers, show them how great Hatchbuck’s product is, and help them grow. We’re excited to watch the Hatchbuck growth story unfold.

Hatchbuck is among the dozens of startups at T-REx getting ready to make the move from the current incubator space at 6th and Olive to the new T-REx headquarters in the Lammert Building on Washington Avenue. Washington University will have an official presence in the new space, giving our students the opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the most innovative startups in the country. I look forward to updating you on Olin’s impact on the startup community in 2014!


Wash U was a tour de force at Startup Connection on October 3!

The event is St. Louis’s largest entrepreneurship expo and brings entrepreneurs, investors, students, and community members together for one night to hear a series of pitches from the region’s hottest up-and-coming startups.  Sixty companies each had 90 seconds to pitch their idea to a room full of nearly 1,000 people.  At the end of the evening, the audience and investors chose their favorites, awarding more than $160,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

Sparo Labs added to their growing list of prizes with two awards– The BioSTL Award ($2500) and the People’s Choice Award in Bioscience, voted on by the attendees ($500).  Washington University graduates Andrew Brimer and Abigail Cohen launched Sparo Labs while in school, and continue to run the company full-time.

Farmplicity, which was launched in the Hatchery class last spring, won the People’s Choice Award in Early Stage Tech/IT ($500).  Wash U alum Drew Koch and current student Jolijt Tamanaha, represented Farmplicity on stage.  The company’s other co-founders, Andrew Lin and Lauren Ortwein, are also Washington University BSBA graduates.

Faculty-launched Observable Networks, run by Patrick Crowley (professor in Engineering) and Peter Finley (adjunct professor at Olin), won third place and $20k in the St. Louis Startup Challenge.

The big news was that Olin Cup winner and recent law school alum Drew Winship’s Juristat won first place in the Startup Challenge along with a check for $50k. (Pictured above.) Read more about Juristat’s big win here.

Additionally, Wash U students were highly visible at the event.  The EVCA, led by Kasey Joyce, provided and coordinated about 50 MBA and BSBA student volunteers to run the event.  Kasey moderated the on-stage elevator pitches.  All-in-all there were over a hundred Wash U students in attendance.

Read more about Startup Connection in the St. Louis Business Journal.

After the event, I took part in a panel discussion on innovation and entrepreneurship on 9Network’s program, StayTuned.  Square co-founder and Washington University alum, Jim McKelvey, was also on the show.  You can watch the program in its entirety here.

It was an incredible and exciting night for Washington University and the entrepreneurship community in St. Louis!