Ginger Imster and Ben Burke, the leadership team at Arch Grants.
Nearly half of the startup companies selected to receive $50,000 non-equity grants from Arch Grants this year are women-owned.
Arch Grants Executive Director Ginger Imster called that fact a “watershed moment for Arch Grants and for St. Louis.”
Arch Grants announced the 20 winners of the 2014 Arch Grants Wednesday morning. Of those, 40 percent — or eight companies — are female-owned.
Those companies are Artifox, Blue Line Security Solutions, Dabble, greetabl, Lifepack, Made for Freedom, Tallyfy and Wondermento.
Arch Grants Director of Operations Ben Burke said the amount of female-owned businesses named grant winners this year was mostly organic, though organizers did keep the widely known gender gap in the entrepreneurial community in mind.
According to an annual report put out by ITEN, just less than 20 percent of startup founders in St. Louis are female.
The increase in women-led companies could be good news — financially speaking — for Arch Grants and St. Louis-area investors. According to a Google study, female-led companies have a 35 percent higher return on investment and are 12 percent more profitable than male-led companies.
Still, according to Pitchbook, just 13 percent of all venture capital deals in the United States went to women in 2013.
Meanwhile, the influx of women-led businesses into St. Louis is also a good sign for entities such as Prosper, the new initiative in St. Louis taking aim at closing the gender gap among entrepreneurs. Prosper is preparing to launch the Prosper Angel Network, an angel group that plans to invest $375,000 this year and as much as $1.25 annually in the future. The group of eight women-led startups could serve as a solid pipeline of potential deals as the angel group finds its footing.
Nationwide, roughly 10 angel networks focus on funding woman-owned companies or have women angel members, according to Marianne Hudson, executive director of the Angel Capital Association.