Tag: IT



The ITEN Board of Directors has appointed Mary Louise Helbig the new Executive Director of the not-for-profit organization, effective immediately.

After an extensive search, the Board determined the strongest candidate was among ITEN’s group of experienced Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs).  Mary Louise has been deeply involved with ITEN since 2014 as an EIR, working hands-on with many entrepreneurs and in ITEN’s Corporate Innovation Program (CIP).   Many startups have benefitted from her guidance and intervention and Mary Louise also works closely with one of ITEN’s CIP partners.

Mary Louise Helbig, Olin MBA’94

“I am honored to take on this role at a very exciting time for ITEN,” stated Mary Louise.  “The needs of entrepreneurs have evolved, and we are developing more rigorous programs that support them through the commercialization process – from concept to market entry.  Additionally, building upon the success of CIP, we are committed to increasing opportunities for collaboration between our entrepreneur community and corporate partners to facilitate innovation.”

Mary Louise has over 25 years experience working in executive marketing, product development, and business development roles for start-ups and companies with high growth initiatives in the technology, financial health, and education sectors. She is the former President of Virtual Nerd, an EdTech startup that received national and industry awards for product design, and was CEO of HealthyMe, a Health Tech company.  She has also held executive management positions in major corporations, including strategic planning for American Express Incentive Services and redesigning the high speed internet installation program at Charter Communications.

“Our search turned up many excellent candidates, but at the end of the day we realized we had the strongest candidate already in our organization and someone very engaged with the St. Louis ecosystem,” said Jim Brasunas, ITEN Board member and Interim Executive Director.  “Mary Louise’s experience spans entrepreneurial and corporate executive leadership, and combined with her exceptional people skills, she is the ideal leader for ITEN.   We are excited to have her at the helm as we take the organization to the next level.”

The ITEN Board commends the staff, mentors and EIRs who have stepped up during the three-month interim period to keep the organization’s programs and venture development services operating effectively.   In particular the Board thanks Director, Entrepreneur Development Melissa Grizzle and Senior EIR Chuck Vallurupalli for outstanding service and unwavering commitment during this time.

About ITEN

As a major catalyst driving the St. Louis region’s startup ecosystem, ITEN (www.itenstl.org) accelerates innovation across the region through targeted programs for both corporations and scalable startups that employ technology as a core driver of business.  ITEN’s programs focus on rapid market analysis, product development, connections to talent, essential networking, and for startups, access to funding and customers.  The core of the organization’s value proposition is for entrepreneurs to work together to build a vibrant innovation ecosystem across the region.   ITEN’s sponsors include the Missouri Technology Corporation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Gateway to Innovation Conference (G2i), Bank of America, BDO, CEdge, Polsinelli, Greensfelder, and Wells Fargo Advisors.

Source:  ITEN News Release, ST. LOUIS, July 31, 2017




ITEN, the IT Entrepreneur Network, has been a catalyst of the St. Louis region’s IT startup ecosystem since its founding in 2008. ITEN cultivates startups from the idea stage to successful business platforms. ITEN’s success in developing startups has long been rooted in mentorship: successful entrepreneurs and business people have played a role in guiding new companies through their early stages. The mentorship process has been successful in sprouting a network of interconnected entrepreneurs and resources. With the focus on keeping talented entrepreneurs in the St. Louis area, ITEN offers long-term engagement with the entrepreneur which includes numerous opportunities for education and personal growth.

Our team has met with Francis Chmelir, the executive director of ITEN, to discuss how to best move ITEN forward in a changing technological environment.

iten_logo-copyThe fundamental goals of ITEN remain intact from its initiation: connect talented entrepreneurs with each other and with mentors; educate entrepreneurs in how to best navigate early-stage business; and facilitate entrepreneurs’ relationship with St. Louis in a way that incentivizes talent to stay local.

Our team’s plan of attack will cover three general areas; together we will address ITEN’s current concerns and ensure ITEN’s continued success in the St. Louis startup ecosystem.

  • First, we will investigate ITEN’s corporate engagement initiative. In doing this, we will assess the availability of specific partnerships that ITEN can tap into, along with participation incentives for both entrepreneurs and mentors.
  • Next, we will assess the potential for local collaboration on data management and administration. Ideally, we would like to figure out a way to streamline all of St. Louis startup data to facilitate collaboration between groups.
  • Lastly, we will perform a high-level analysis of ecosystems in other similarly-situated cities. We hope to learn from the ITENs of other cities to inform our path forward to assist ITEN as best we can.

We look forward to working closely with Francis throughout the semester and uncovering ways ITEN can continue to reach its full potential in St. Louis!

Our CELect team includes: Danny Kraus (JD ‘17), Andrew Polansky (JD/MBA ‘18), Alana Siegel (JD/MBA ‘17), and Michael Washington (JD ‘ 18).


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