Startup Expo - Day 1

Tuesday, Sept. 15

8:30 AM | WELCOME - Governor Mike Parson

PANEL DISCUSSION: The Bar Plan — "How to Succeed as a Solo Legal Practitioner"

Katie Barnard - Founder and CEO of Firesign
Before starting Firesign, a marketing agency that specializes in helping law firms and legal vendors build credibility and clientele, Katie served as the chief marketing officer at Lathrop Gage and Shook, Hardy & Bacon, where she led the firms' marketing communications and business development initiatives. She has significant experience in launching new law firms and creating new brands, websites and public relations programs for many startups.

Whittney Dunn - Risk Manager at The Bar Plan
A nationally renowned speaker, Whittney presents to hundreds of lawyers annually on ethics, professionalism and malpractice avoidance. She has a keen interest in contributing to the growth and development of young lawyers, and she currently serves as the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division liaison to the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility and as the founding chair of the center’s New Lawyer Steering Committee. She also has served as The Missouri Bar Young Lawyers Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates and chair of the ABA YLD Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

Gary Pierson – Attorney, Pierson // Wells
Gary handles a diverse set of transactional and corporate matters for clients big and small, with emphases on media and entertainment, advertising, marketing, intellectual property and entrepreneurial businesses.  He serves on the board of the Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, STL Art Place and independent radio station KDHX. He is also a local elected official, now in his second term as a member of the Board of Education of the School District of Clayton.

10:00 AM | Educational Session 1: Patents, Trademarks & Copyright Law

Kirk DammonKirk A. Damman, a patent lawyer and member at the Lewis Rice law firm in St. Louis, practices in all areas of intellectual property law, with an emphasis on helping startup and growing companies begin to manage, license, and gain value from their intellectual property (patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets) as well as obtain protection for their most important ideas and products. He’s been licensed to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for more than 20 years, and he co-authored two books on patent law. He works with clients who’ve created products for industries ranging from circuit and electrical designs, to medical devices, computer software and alternative energy and fuels. He mentors local startups with Gateway Volunteer Mentoring Service, and in 2018, Missouri Lawyers Media honored him with a Top Legal Innovation Award for adapting his big-firm practice to help small companies and startups protect and market their ideas.


10:30 AM | Educational Session 2: Succession Planning for Small Business

Attorney Bennett S. Keller is the partner in charge of Lathrop GPM’s St. Louis office. He concentrates his practice in estate and succession planning, as well as corporate law and probate and general business. He is a frequent lecturer, speaker and author on estate planning, business succession planning and tax issues. He also is an adjunct professor at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, where he teaches business succession planning in the Master’s of Taxation program.


11:00 AM | Educational Session 3: The Startup Path — "From Idea To Success"

Sarah SchlaflySarah Schlafly is the CEO of Mighty Cricket, a next-generation protein company with a mission to build a clean protein supply to sustain the world. After earning an accounting degree from Truman State University, Schlafly made a career in food. She built a nutrition and cooking school in North Carolina where she worked with both Fortune 100 companies and families at the poverty line.  In 2014, Inc.magazine recognized her as a military entrepreneur for her work with one of her previous companies. Upon entering the corporate world, Sarah was the digital marketing manager for a national food brand. She now runs Mighty Cricket full-time and travels internationally to share her passion for more sustainable food systems.


11:30 AM | Closing remarks & program updates


Startup Expo - Day 2

Wednesday, Sept. 16

8:30 AM | WELCOME - Liz Irwin, Startup Missouri magazine, Group Publisher

PANEL DISCUSSION: Ask SCORE — "Mentorship & What It Means To A Startup"

SCORE is the premier source of free small business advice for entrepreneurs. They are a volunteer, non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the success of small businesses.

Jim Cornbleet is an accomplished business executive with broad experience in areas including fundraising, sales, marketing and finance.  His successful business career includes working for not-for-profit organizations, small and medium-size businesses, and Fortune 500 companies. Cornbleet has been a SCORE volunteer for the past two years and is also a mentor for the Capital Innovators accelerator program. He provides individual coaching and works primarily with St.Louis companies that are motivated to grow or are struggling with sales. He recently completed his first book, “Who Says A Fish Can’t Sell?” 

Gary Deeken is a retired owner and CEO of a large multistate equipment dealership, with revenues in excess of $100M and 85 employees.  He sold that company to private equity in 2010. Since his retirement, he has served as a volunteer in several capacities, including as a SCORE small business mentor for the past seven years.  He has also served as a SCORE chapter chair, and leads the SCORE Business Scan team.

Pam Gilbert comes with over 20 years experience in manufacturing. Former owner of a small manufacturing and flexographic printing business, specializing in packaging for the food industry, she offers well rounded experience in multiple areas of operations for small business. She has over 20+ years experience in sales and business development, sales management, HR and operations management. Currently, she is the co-vice chair of Score St. Louis Chapter. Oct. 1st she will become Co-Chair for the chapter. She has been a member and volunteer with Score going on 4 years. 


10:00 AM | Educational Session 4: Legal Issues For Low-Income & Nonprofit Entrepreneurs

Tracy JonesTracy James is the managing attorney for the Microenterprise Program of LSEM, which provides free legal advice for eligible entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofit organizations as well as those that serve and support low-income communities. The program provides guidance on business formation and incorporation, employment, real estate and zoning, contracts and leases, tax, finances and other issues.


10:30 AM | Educational Session 5: Women in Entrepreneurship

Michelle RobinsonSt. Louis native and entrepreneur Michelle Robinson is the founder of DEMIblueNatural Nails, which offers a complete line of nail treatments, including polishes, top coats and base coats, all of which are “seven-free” — a term indicating they lack seven key toxins she said are typically found in conventional polishes. She offers more than 20 shades, all of which contain  no animal-derived ingredients and are vegan-friendly. A clinical administrator at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine, she was inspired to create her line while her mother recovered from breast cancer and was advised to avoid products containing harsh chemicals. Robinson also has taught LPN and medical-assistant classes and earned an MBA from Fontbonne University in St. Louis.

Nichole Mercier is the Assistant Vice Chancellor & Managing Director of the Washington University in St. Louis Office of Technology Management, which in 2014 introduced its Women in Innovation and Technology program to address the persistent under-representation of women in technology commercialization efforts. The WIT program is closing that gap in invention disclosure and commercialization by educating women faculty to navigate those processes. It also introduces them to resources available within the St. Louis region. 


11:00 AM | Educational Session 6: How the Dept. of Labor Can Help Your Startup

Delores RoseDelores (Dee) Rose, director of strategic communications for the Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, whose extensive knowledge of all divisions and services can help your small business.


11:30 AM | Closing remarks & program updates


Startup Expo - Day 3

Thursday, Sept. 17

8:30 AM | WELCOME - Liz Irwin, Startup Missouri magazine, Group Publisher

PANEL DISCUSSION: Founders & Funders

Michael Saigh, serial inventor and entrepreneur, former stockbroker and business professor from St. Louis. Saigh’s inventions are used around the globe and  involve video on demand, books on demand and technologies that protect and manage digital rights. His products and patents range from wireless hospital information technology and automated logistical distribution for the retail industry to alternative energy technologies and a personal security app for cell phones, among others. In 2019.Startup Missouri magazine featured one of his recent inventions, Equine Smartbits, which provides biometric data in real time that enables owners to monitor the health and performance of their competitive horses.

Kyle Welborn is a co-founder and general partner of Cultivation Capital,  a St. Louis-based venture capital firm that invests in young companies whose ideas have potential to transform the way we live and work. At Cultivation Capital, he focuses on making AgriFood Tech investments through the Yield Lab. He serves as the board chair at NanoGuard Technologies, and a board member at Eiwa Ag. He is also a board observer at ChefHero and Label Insight. Prior to joining the AgTech investment team, Kyle led Cultivation’s operations team. In 2012, he founded an angel investment group in St. Louis called FinServe Tech Angels, which later became a part of the St. Louis Arch Angels.

Chris Brown is a Kansas City attorney who in 2013 left a mid-size law firm to become a full-time entrepreneur. Since then, he’s created and sold companies, and he’s mentored many entrepreneurs and freelancers. He represents Kansas City startups, freelancers and small businesses through his law firm, Venture Legal, and he also co-founded Contract Canvas, a digital-contract platform for creative professionals. In 2019, Missouri Lawyers Media honored him with a Top Legal Innovation Award for his work to connect lawyers with legal tech education through KC Legal Hackers. You can find him on Twitter @CSBCounsel.

Texas native Stephanie McGrew moved to Missouri to further her education, earning a BS in exercise science and BA in biology from Truman State University. She later earned a master’s degree in health administration from A.T. Still University. She put her degrees to work by opening her own fitness studio, Lone Star Physiques, in Kirksville. She now has two locations, as well as a healthy meal-prep service, and she also owns the Kirksville Escape Room. In 2018, the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce recognized her with its “5 under 40” award.

State Rep. Wes Rogers, D-Kansas City, who is an attorney and of-counsel at BG Law in Kansas City. He is also a small business owner in addition to his legislative duties and has earned both a law degree from the University of Missouri and an MBA. from Washington University in St. Louis. He can address guidelines and deadlines related to the federal CARES Act and other COVID-19-related funding programs for small businesses.

Fanta Kaba is a second-year MBA student at the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis. She also is the founder and owner of the New York-based skincare brand Golden Roots Essentials. She launched Golden Roots Essentials in 2019 after a self-discovery trip to her parent's native country, Guinea, where she learned about the great benefits of raw shea butter and the various ways her ancestors used it to maintain the health of their skin and hair. All Golden Roots Essentials products are exclusively available online and have been shipped to more than 30 states within the past year.

Mindy McCubbin is a co-founder of COMO W.I.N.E., the Columbia-based Women’s Investment Network for Entrepreneurs. Founded earlier this year, the angel investment group aims to remedy gender-based discrimination in local investing and propel early-stage growth of women-led companies. McCubbin also works with small business owners and entrepreneurs as  owner and founder of Truman Wealth Advisors in Columbia.  


10:00 AM | Educational Session 7: Business Interruption Insurance — Can Your COVID-19 Losses Be Recovered?

Attorney Bradley T. Wilders is a partner at Stueve Siegel Hanson in Kansas City, where he represents clients in complex commercial litigation, including patent, copyright, antitrust and fraud cases. His firm is among the leaders of a team of lawyers who have undertaken litigation against insurers on behalf of businesses in Missouri, Kansas and other states that have suffered significant losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those suits are among the first of what lawyers locally and nationally anticipate will be a wave of litigation regarding business interruption claims. 


10:30 AM | IDEA BOUNCE - Live Contest

Inventors, founders, and startups from across Missouri are invited to share their ideas at the Startup Missouri Expo IdeaBounce®! This is your opportunity to pitch your idea, get feedback on it, and make connections. To pitch at the event, please post your idea on before September 14th and select “Startup MO Expo” under “Associated Programs.” A select number of idea posters will be asked to give a two-minute, live pitch at the Expo event. These will be scored based on three criteria: Idea, Passion of the Presenter and the Ask for help to advance the idea. A winner will be announced at the end of the program.


11:30 AM | Closing remarks