Tag: Cultivation capital

Jim Enright, senior vice president for development at LockerDome, one of Cultivation Capital

A major St. Louis venture capital firm—which includes three WashU alumni among its cofounders—has released an analysis that shows Washington University accounts for more employees in its investment portfolio than any other university.

Cultivation Capital has invested in more than 100 early-stage startups since it was founded in 2012. Combined, those portfolio companies employ 84 WashU alumni—far and away the most of any university. The University of Missouri-Columbia was second with 52 alumni at Cultivation Capital companies, then the University of Missouri-St. Louis with 39.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Saint Louis University rounded out the top five with 36 and 32, respectively.

“WashU is bringing world-class talent to the region,” said Cliff Holekamp, a Cultivation Capital cofounder and senior lecturer in entrepreneurship at Olin. Thanks to the pedigree of its cofounders, the fact that four out of 11 of its employees are WashU alumni—and the trend among its portfolio companies — “I see Cultivation Capital as being an external validation of WashU’s successful focus in entrepreneurship,” Holekamp said.

The firm’s employment analysis also showed that its firms have contributed at least 2,586 new jobs to the economy in firms based in St. Louis, around the country and around the world. The largest share of those employees—19 percent—are working in St. Louis. More than 11 percent work in Silicon Valley, 6 percent in Chicago, and about 4.5 percent in New York City.

The firm used LinkedIn data to determine how many people its portfolio firms had employed, where they lived, and which schools they attended.

LockerDome, a St. Louis-based technology firm, is among Cultivation Capital’s portfolio companies with more than $18 million invested—and a number of WashU grads on the payroll. LockerDome’s Jim Enright, senior vice president for business development and marketing (not a WashU grad himself) tattooed Cultivation Capital’s logo to his bicep after one of its funding rounds.

Holekamp noted that “despite having international reach, 20 percent of our jobs are being created here.” About a quarter of the jobs created among Cultivation companies were in engineering; 21 percent in business development; 13 percent in information technology; and 13 percent in sales.

About 11 percent of employees in Cultivation firms classified themselves as simply in “entrepreneurship.”

Holekamp said the analysis was a great illustration of the big things that can happen among smaller companies. “There is too much emphasis on major corporate hirings and firings,” he said. “All along, in the background, we have small companies hiring.”

Clifford Holekamp, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Director of the Entrepreneurship Platform is also a partner in one of the newest venture capital funds in St. Louis, Cultivation Capital.

Cultivation capitalIn an article in Octane, the Entrepreneur’s Organization (EO) blog, Holekamp reflects on why successful entrepreneurs like himself and his partners make good investors and judges of new startups.

Pictured at left: Holekamp, Rick Holton, and Jim McKelvey, all partners in Cultivation Capital.

Read the article.

Cultivation Capital, the St. Louis-based venture capital firm with many Olin alumni on its team, is ranked among the most active seed VC firms in new research published by CB Insights. The St. Louis Business Journal reports that Cultivation Capital was the 43rd most active seed investor in 2014 among those that participated in at least five deals.

CultivationCapCultivation Capital is managed by a team of successful entrepreneurs with funds focused in the areas of technology and health and life sciences.

Ryan Rakestraw, MBA’13, joined Cultivation Capital after earning his graduate degree. He talks about making a shift from engineering and technology to the field of entrepreneurship and venture capital in the video above. Ryan is currently working with a company funded by Cultivation Capital called The Yield Lab, an accelerator for early stage agtech companies.


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!


Jim McKelvey is a serial co-founder. From a glass-blowing factory in St. Louis to Square, a high-tech mobile payment system that is disrupting the way people pay for goods and services around the world, McKelvey is a 21st century entrepreneur.

McKelvey visited Olin and spent a few hours with students in the entrepreneurship concentration talking about startups, problem-solving, and why it’s good to have a partner when you start a business.

Olin MBA’14 student Kasey Joyce interviewed McKelvey Nov. 1, 2013. This is the first in a video series of Kasey’s one-on-one interview with Jim.

Video by Sohrab Golestani and edited by Tucker Pierce, both are WUSTL undergrads.

Photo credit: Sid Hastings/WUSTL Photos