Not All Venture Capital Firms Are EViL

Not All Venture Capital Firms Are EViL

Written By: Colton Callandrella

In a resounding testimony to the burgeoning startup scene in St. Louis, more than 50 venture capital professionals gathered downtown last week for the Emerging Venture Leaders Summit (EVL). Organized by Active Capital and Cultivation Capital, the two-day conference featured keynote speakers, expert panels on specific trends in the Venture Capital (VC) industry, and plenty of networking opportunities.

In addition to hearing from President of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, James Bullard and President of the St. Louis Cardinals, Bill DeWitt, attendees heard a passionate speech from Square Co-Founder, Jim McKelvey about the role venture capital plays in entrepreneurship. Noting that venture capital often supports enterprises without a proven business model, he said something that resonated with me: “VC firms aren’t evil… they’re crazy”.

Here are three examples from the EVL Summit that show that rather than preying on entrepreneurs, many VC firms are actively investing in improvements in the world:

1. Precision Farming

By 2050, the world will have 9.6 billion humans to feed. The AgTech (agricultural technology) panels at the EVL summit showcased the incredible results of marrying modern technology with efficient farming techniques. Panelist Jerry Steiner, CEO of Arvegenix, spoke about how precision farming (the use of sensors and data analytics) can improve yields, increase incomes for farmers, and raise the quality of crops. Arvegenix is a participant in the Yield Lab AgTech accelerator that is developing a new crop called PennyCress meant to fill fallow fields in between crop rotations.

2. Cybersecurity

Approximately 15 million United States residents have their identities used fraudulently each year. The FinTech (financial technology) panel discussed how new startups in the financial services industry can save customers money while protecting their identities. Peter Esparrago, CEO of FinLocker, pointed out that his product helps protect users from identity theft while minimizing the time it takes to keep track of finances

3. Drug Delivery

As health care costs continue to concern both customers and administrators, care providers are constantly looking for newer and better ways to improve health. On the HealthTech panel, CEO of Euclises Pharmaceuticals, Bobby Sandage explained how VC investments in drug delivery systems can more effectively enable a patient to receive the medicine he/she needs, with fewer side effects and lower costs.