Two WashU Olin alums’ startups receive Arch Grants

  • December 6, 2023
  • By Jill Young Miller
  • 3 minute read

Arch Grants recently awarded grants of $75,000 to two founders who are WashU Olin alums:

  • Constituent Connections: The St. Louis firm, led by CEO Spencer Toder, BSBA 2009 and MBA 2009, has developed what it describes as the “first voter relationship management platform,” designed for use by political candidates and elected officials;
  • Top Tutors for UsAlso in St. Louis, Top Tutors designs educational programs and curriculums for predominantly Black public schools and also provides tutoring services. Its founder and CEO is Angelica Harris, BSBA 2021, BSCS 2021 and MSCS 2022.
Angelica Harris

Said Harris, “The inspiration behind the founding of Top Tutors for Us stemmed from my own high school struggles with standardized testing and the lack of a tutor who truly understood my needs.”

Toder started Constituent Connections in 2021 when he decided to run for US Senate in Missouri. He was frustrated by the lack of technological capacity in the Democratic campaign world, and decided to build software to help him and other values-aligned groups and candidates connect with voters more affordably.

Spencer Toder

Arch Grants is a St. Louis nonprofit that annually awards $75,000 equity-free grants to startups. It recently announced it is providing nearly $1.9 million to 22 startups in its 2023 class, selected from more than 500 applicants.

Toder explained the potential impact for a company. The $75,000 in nondilutive capital is the equivalent of $350,000 in revenue for a company with a 20% margin, he said.

“That's incredibly substantial. As a startup, an extra $75,000 can mean the difference between success and failure, and for Constituent Connection, we believe it will help put us on a track to success,” he said.

“We are honored to have received the grant as a testament to the quality of our team and product.” 

Empowering entrepreneurs

Arch Grants’ goal “is to empower entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of innovation and to help them thrive in St. Louis," said Gabe Angieri, executive director of Arch Grants. "We believe that by supporting these entrepreneurs, we're not just investing in individual companies—we're investing in the future of this city.”

Securing an Arch Grants award is a significant milestone for Top Tutors for Us, Harris said. The recognition not only comes with a financial award “but also offers invaluable access to a network of mentors and connections. “Being chosen as one of the recipients is a testament to the validity of our vision and efforts. It's an honor.”

She said the company will use the grant to bolster two key areas of the business: development and marketing.

Harris said her Olin education has helped her grow her company. “The education mix of theory and practical skills, especially through case studies and freshman and sophomore case competitions, prepared me for real-world challenges like pitching for investments,” she said. And “the network I built with my Olin classmates has evolved into valuable professional relationships.”

Toder said his Olin education has affected his company’s growth in many ways. “For starters, it's where I met one of our cofounders."

About the Author

Jill Young Miller

Jill Young Miller

As research translator for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to highlight professors’ research by “translating” their work into stories. Before coming to Olin, I was a communications specialist at WashU’s Brown School. My background is mostly in newspapers including as a journalist for Missouri Lawyers Media, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida.

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