By Lior Torenberg

In 2018, software startup Balto received a $50,000 Arch Grant. Two years later, it was able to successfully raise $37.5 million in Series B funding for its real-time guidance platform for call centers, bringing its total funding to $52 million.

Since its launch, Balto has provided over 180 million real-time recommendations to dozens of enterprise customers including Amtrust Financial, Katapult, Johnson & Johnson, and National General Insurance. Companies that utilize Balto’s software see an average 26% increase in conversion rates, 25% increase in CSAT scores, and 75% faster ramp up time for new agents.

The 2018 Arch Grant was invaluable to Balto’s rapid growth. “Very early on, Arch Grants believed in Balto and helped connect us with some of our most important relationships and resources. In fact, there are at least half a dozen companies I knew of beforehand who moved to St. Louis specifically because of Arch Grants, which has an incredible multiplier effect,” says Balto co-founder Chris Kontes.

Arch Grants aims to transform the St. Louis economy by identifying and investing in extraordinary ideas and entrepreneurs. They provide early-stage companies with $50,000 in equity-free grants, and a wide variety of resources to help them grow and scale, including coworking spaces, accelerators, access to a steady stream of talent, and connections to venture capital firms and angel investors.

Specifically, Arch Grants looks for idea-stage to pre-Series A companies with innovative and scalable business models that utilize technology-enabled solutions and have diverse founder teams with a desire to re-invest in the local ecosystem.

In the past decade, Arch Grants has funded nearly 200 companies, which have gone on to generate over 2,300 jobs in Missouri. 70% of the startups that receive Arch Grants are led by women, people of color, immigrants, or veterans. Although Arch Grants recipients are only required to stay in the St. Louis area for one year, 85% of recipients still operate in the area today. These companies have generated over $459 million in revenue, and attracted more than $355 million in follow-on capital.

In addition to $50,000 in equity-free grants, Founders can also apply for Arch Grant’s Growth Grants program, which is designed to help raise growth capital by awarding an additional $100,000 in non-dilutive grants. The first Growth Grants were awarded in 2021 to ProviderPool and GiftAMeal, both of which plan to use these funds as part of their seed funding rounds.

Balto co-founder Marc Bernstein is a strong advocate of the Arch Grant program. “Even when Balto was just two guys in a room, we were getting an outsized amount of support from the community. Whenever anyone asks me, ‘Where do entrepreneurs in the St. Louis metro area come together to build for the future?’ It’s an easy answer: Arch Grants.”

To celebrate Arch Grants’ tremendous impact on the St. Louis community, the 9th Annual Grants Gala will be held virtually on November 17th. The Gala will welcome the newest Arch Grant Cohort, celebrate its Founders, and announce their 2021 Entrepreneur Award recipient, Jim McKelvey of Square and LaunchCode. Interested parties can purchase tickets, donate to the event, or sign on as sponsors. A free streaming option is also available for those who want to watch the Gala live.

This year, Arch Grants was able to fundraise over $20 million to continue its investments in companies like Balto, and expand its reach in the St. Louis community. Because of this fundraising, it will be able to allocate 50% more grants to startups, bolster its Growth Grant program, and dedicate funds to relocation assistance for startups from outside the region in the hopes of fostering more success stories like Balto’s.