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STL Personalities
Feb 01, 2014


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The Buzz List

A toast to St. Louis’ most influential people, organizations and ideas of the year. Come join the party...
Story: Amy De La Hunt, Jeremy Nulik, Matt Sorrell, Christopher Reilly and Jennifer Wells |
Photos: Wesley Law

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Edited by Jennifer Dulin Wiley & Kelly Hamilton | Hair by Heather Hoehn | Makeup by Garry Vesper (Stonewater Spa Salon & Boutique) | Digital Tech: Sean Funcik | Assistants: Hannah Detring, Sarah Hendrycks, Stephanie James and Alex Povis.


(L-R) Reshma Chattarman Chamberlin, Rick Holton, Tom Pernikoff, Elizabeth Buchanan, Anjali Kamra and Rick Pernikoff


Rick Holton

General Partner, Cultivation Capital
A successful entrepreneur in his own right, nobody gives back more than Rick Holton. Not only is he a founding partner in Cultivation Capital and his own Holton Capital Group, but he also sits on the nonprofit boards of Arch Grants, InnovateSTL, Academy of Science-St. Louis, Washington University’s Olin Business School, CityArchRiver Development Committee and the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance. “I love this city,” Holton says, and it shows. Between Cultivation Capital’s tech, science and accelerator funds, the group has invested $10 million in local startups like Lockerdome and Yurbuds, which has generated an additional $20 million in sidecar investments, he says. A believer that hands-on involvement drives higher returns, Holton is an active investor who gives advice and guidance to the companies he funds. “For a lot of these entrepreneurs, it’s their first rodeo,” Holton explains. “You learn more sharing experiences than telling them what to do.” -CR

Elizabeth Buchanan and Reshma Chattarman Chamberlin

(L-R) Co-founders, Muzio
“It’s about emotional connections,” says Reshma Chattarman Chamberlin, who—along with business partner, Elizabeth Buchanan— co-founded the ultra-buzzy Muzio app. The application enables users to share experiences and create stories—called Muzes— through photos, video, audio and text elegantly presented right on their phones. Soon after launching last June, Venture Beat published a story about the company, followed by coverage in the New York Times blog Gadgetwise, Fast Company and ABC News app of the week. Plus, Tech Cocktail named Chamberlin one of “fifteen female entrepreneurs you should know.” Recently, the team partnered with Atlantic Records to create an exclusive Muze promoting singing duo Icona Pop’s US tour. Globally, Muzes are being shared by users in Mexico, Tokyo, the Netherlands, India and more. “We’re constantly evolving,” Chamberlin says. “We’re already working on Muzio 2.0—a combination of innovation and listening to what our Muzers want—and couldn’t be more excited.” - CR


Michael Drummond

(L) Designer/Curator, The Exquisite Corpse
With the successful debut of “Dressed,” a fashion-meets-art exhibit at RAC, the St. Louis fashion set was introduced to Michael Drummond, the curator—a role both Drummond and his following seem to be very comfortable with. The designer’s current career evolution is boldly intentional, as he eases away from his premier line, The Exquisite Corpse, and moves toward the private sector of curation and custom design. So far his aspirations seem to be well-played, as a piece from his debut collection of avant-garde footwear was snatched up by global tastemaker Sofia Hedman, curator of “A Queen Within,” to show at the World Chess Hall of Fame among fashion’s most historically relevant designers, including Alexander McQueen, Iris van Herpen and Jean Paul Gaultier. The weight of the honor isn’t lost on Drummond, who was humbled to merely be in the presence of such incredible garments and overjoyed to share space with artists who he considers personal heroes. – JW

Andrea Purnell

Artistic Director, UMSL’s Missouri Institute of Mental Health
After winning Grand Center’s 2013 Emerging Artist Visionary Award, producer, actress, writer and documentary filmmaker Andrea Purnell is still pushing the proverbial envelope. As artistic director of UMSL’s Missouri Institute of Mental Health, she continues to raise awareness of mental health issues in ultra-creative ways. (Among our personal favorites is the “Let’s Talk About It” flash mob featuring hundreds of mental health professionals and advocates grooving down Market Street to “Funky Town.”) Along with the Diversity Awareness Partnership, Purnell created WorkPLAYce, which explores diversity in the workplace through improv theater. As an encore, Purnell and Missouri Institute of Mental Health will showcase visual art, film, poetry and theater during October 2014 Mental Health Awareness month, with an eye toward expanding the event into an annual festival. – CR

Ben Poremba

Owner, Elaia and Olio
Some people are perennially restless. Case in point: Ben Poremba. The co-founder of the beloved local salumeria Salume Beddu simultaneously opened two eateries in the budding Botanical Heights neighborhood in 2012—the fine dining Elaia and the adjacent wine bar Olio. Both made Bon Appétit’s Top 50 New Restaurants list in 2013—the same year Poremba partnered with pastry chef extraordinaire Simone Faure to open La Patisserie Chouquette just across the street. Not quite content with these feats of culinary prowess, this year Poremba will be hatching a fried chicken and American whiskey joint called Old Standard in the same neighborhood—as well as ramping up and running all culinary operations at the new United Provisions by Global Foods in the Delmar Loop, scheduled to debut this summer. We’re tired just talking about it. – MS



Anjali Kamra

Designer/Founder, Rungolee
From New York to Palm Beach, and of course St. Louis, fashion designer Anjali Kamra is making design inroads in a big way. It’s her chic line, Rungolee—a favorite among famously smart women, like ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts—that consistently keeps Kamra’s talents in high demand. And while the brand’s new e-commerce site, rungolee.com, is able to stave off cravings (at least temporarily), there’s really nothing like drinking in the textures, fabrics and colors of each piece in person. Perhaps that’s why Rungolee’s trunk shows have been so successful, making appearances at more than 30 cities a year. Or maybe it’s the pure buzz factor (Rungolee seems to consistently elicit the attention of fashion’s in-the-know crowd). But, if pressed, we’d wager that Rungolee’s current momentum is really all about the clothes— beautiful, chic pieces that whisper exoticism but speak volumes about a woman’s everyday lifestyle. – JW

Rick and Tom Pernikoff

(L-R)
Co-founders, TunespeakMusicians 
Tom and Rick Pernikoff were searching for a way to help bands identify and reward their biggest fans. What they created was Tunespeak, a band-to-fan loyalty platform where fans earn points and win prizes for listening to tunes, watching music videos and sharing with friends. After graduating from Capital Innovators’ fall 2012 class, the company completed a $500,000 funding round led by Cultivation Capital and was recently named one of the most promising new companies in the music-tech world at the San Francisco MusicTech Summit. The site is already working with more than 100 bands, including Kings of Leon, John Mayer and Zac Brown Band, as well as St. Louis bands The Urge, Tef Poe and Kentucky Knife Fight. The Pernikoffs see the company as part of a bigger vision to close the gap between bands and their most passionate fans. We’d say they’re certainly hitting all the right notes. – CR

City Arch River 2015 Project


(L-R)
Susan Trautman
Executive Director, Great Rivers Greenway District

Deanna Venker
Missouri Department of Transportation Area Engineer over City of St. Louis

Maggie Hales 
Executive Director, CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation

Through the unprecedented involvement of 20 partners, nine regulatory agencies, 13 stakeholder organizations and more than 120 public advisors, CityArchRiver is creating an entirely new Arch grounds experience for locals and tourists alike. The Park over the Highway, part of the $380 million CityArchRiver 2015 overhaul of the Arch grounds, is the welcome mat to the region’s front door—but it’s only one of many exciting aspects for three of those closest to the project, now in its first year of construction. Replacing the parking garage to the north with green space toward the riverfront “will really change our energy,” says Susan Trautman, whose group focuses on the project’s connective spaces. The nearly 7 acres of new park space will feature event grounds, a natural amphitheater and play area for kids. (Plus, it is expansive enough to host multiple events at once.) Likewise, Deanna Venker’s engineering mind is intrigued by the innovative design features underneath I-70 at Washington Avenue, like the “light lanterns” (fences using LED illumination for a kinetic effect). Improved foot traffic flow, security and aesthetics—achieved, in part, by welllit biking trails, walking paths and the new west-facing entrance to the Museum of Westward Expansion—will provide “a vivid opportunity to clean up the area,” Venker continues. Add in the Arch grounds and ponds, river road, Kiener Plaza and Old Courthouse, and Maggie Hales anticipates a blowout celebration for the ribboncutting on Oct. 28, 2015: “Get your hotel room now!” – AD


Scott Carey

Owner, Sump Coffee
What began as a morning ritual has become an obsession of sorts for Scott Carey. The former patent lawyer slowly became attracted to the art and science of coffee, intrigued by the minimalist aspect—its deceptive simplicity. After moving back to St. Louis a couple of years ago from NYC, he ditched the corporate suitand- tie scene and decided to follow his caffeinated calling, starting Sump in a building he purchased in South City. Carey shifted his lawyerly attention to detail from legal briefs to crafting perfect cups and creating a decidedly different coffee experience for his patrons. No cream, no sugar, no menu board— just precisely executed beverages that challenge the drinker to really experience the essence of the bean. But don’t look for a string of Sumps to pop up any time soon, Carey says. He’s content to keep honing his vision his own way, one cup at a time. – MS


Saint Louis Art Museum

(L-R)
Jason T. Busch
Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Programs

Nichole Bridges
Associate Curator for African Art

The Saint Louis Art Museum’s new East Building is not only drawing attention and visitors to the city, it’s also drawing talent. Jason T. Busch, the new deputy director for curatorial affairs and programs, recently signed on to oversee exhibitions, collections, education and public programs. Formerly chief curator at Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Busch is focusing on a new approach to reinstalling the museum’s collection so as to heighten visitor engagement, an effort that will come to fruition over the next few years. Audiences will experience the breadth of the museum’s encyclopedic collection covering the whole history of art. “Every object has to earn its place,” Busch says. Nichole Bridges—the museum’s new associate curator for African Art and associate curator in charge of overseeing the Museum’s Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas—is already reimagining the installations of SLAM’s AOA collection, which includes a significant representation of ancient material. As Bridges grows more familiar with the department, she’ll be working with Jill Ahlberg Yohe, the museum’s assistant curator of Native American Art, on presenting new and dynamic collections and establishing public programs that dovetail with the excitement and energy of the new building. – CR

Sarah Berkowitz

Co-founder, Do314.com
Sarah Berkowitz loves to throw a party. And unlike some of her fellow boomerangs (people who move away from St. Louis for college and return post-graduation), Berkowitz knew there was always something to do in her hometown. What was missing was a way to connect the right people with the right happenings. Back in June 2011, she and her brother, Aaron Berkowitz, launched Do314.com, a site that allows interaction between event promoters, sponsors and fans. It has already made a sea change in the way events such as LouFest occur locally. Recently, Berkowitz took her party planning to the next level with the Tastemaker series, a monthly gathering that has quickly become the who’s who of the STL startup, creative and music communities. “There have been a lot of powerful communities that have popped up… When they interact across their niches, more connections are made and more ideas are generated.” – JN


Eric Gulve

President, BioGenerator
After spending 14 years in a large corporate setting as a scientist, Eric Gulve decided to try something different. Now he’s president of BioGenerator and operating a oneof- a-kind accelerator lab for life science startups that has helped launch 42 companies, including Adarza Biosystems and Graematter. BioGenerator Accelerator Lab is a state-of-the-art facility outfitted with millions of dollars worth of highly specialized equipment made available to the startups it invests in, creating a model like no other in the country. The organization recently launched its entrepreneur- in-residence program, which brings professionals to St. Louis to advise on and assist with startups. It also just began recruiting for staffers whose sole job is to identify potential investors, bring them to STL and expose them to local biotech companies. – CR

Drew Winship

CEO, Juristat
Drew Winship walked into St. Louis’ first Startup Weekend in 2012 out of curiosity and walked out with a business that became Juristat, one of the hottest concepts emerging from the city’s thriving startup scene. The company compiles decades of court case data from state and federal court databases, allowing users to predict the future behavior of judges, juries and even attorneys (boasting predictions as obscure as how a jury will vote if it’s raining during hunting season). In just over two years, Juristat has been accepted into Capital Innovators' accelerator program and was awarded an Arch Grant and first place in last October’s Startup Challenge, raising more than $150,000. As one of the largest state court databases in the country, Juristat expects to reach profitability this year, as well as introduce a new product so impactful that Winship predicts it will fundamentally change the patent system in the United States. So stay tuned—we certainly will. – CR

Susan Barrett

Director, World Chess Hall of Fame
Susan Barrett has a knack for making an impact. Not only was she instrumental in the World Chess Hall of Fame’s move to St. Louis, but her leadership has elevated the organization as a major player in the art world. Her fashion-as-art show, “A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, Fashion and Chess,” was the premiere fashion exhibition of the year, and was featured by such publications as Art Daily, New York Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, Women’s Wear Daily and more. The St. Louis opening was attended by fashion and art glitterati, including designers Pam Hogg and Hideki Seo, author/photographer Anne Deniau and fashion columnist Derek Blasberg. Attendance at the museum has nearly tripled and Barrett is in talks for the exhibition to possibly tour Asia next spring. Barrett’s next major project is a hip-hop show with chess-centric Rza and Gza of Wu Tang Clan. Need we say more? – CR


Paulie Gibson

(L) Designer/Founder, Paulie Gibson
His energy is electric, both in his personality and in his collections. Recently, he was featured on “America’s Next Top Model,” scored major real estate in Marie Claire Thailand (nine pages!) and launched a collection on zappos.com. He wears his influences on his sleeve—coveting the feel of a Gianni Versace piece is one of his fondest childhood memories, presumably inspiring an early love of all things luxe. And while silk shirts and vivacious colors are quickly becoming this STL designer’s signatures, fans also cite fit as one of the brand’s most crave-worthy qualities. There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more “Paulie Boys” on the streets of St. Louis (and nationally)—the line recently made its way to the red carpet at the premiere of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”—an appropriate correlation since Gibson’s career is obviously catching fire as well. – JW

Hal Gentry

Partner, Capital Innovators
As a man who started—then sold— two successful software companies, Hal Gentry knows a thing or two about starting a business. A partner in tech company accelerator Capital Innovators, Gentry draws on his experience to mentor and help young entrepreneurial companies get off to a fast start. “Capital Innovators brought a different funding model to the tech community,” Gentry says. “We are able to provide $50,000 to 10 companies per year.” The list of businesses nurtured by Capitol Innovators reads like a who’s who of St. Louis startups, including fellow Buzz Listers FoodEssentials, Juristat, Tunespeak and more. Gentry is also director at SixThirty–FinTech—a new accelerator specializing in financial technology startups—and angel investment group St. Louis Arch Angels, an organization that invested more than $10 million last year. “There’s a clearer path to starting a business in St. Louis,” Gentry says. “There’s an opportunity for so many companies to be created.” – CR

Andrea Robertson

Founder, Triflare
“I thought Mrs. America should have a better-looking triathlon suit,” says Andrea Robertson, the 2010 Mrs. America and former Mrs. Missouri. So she founded Triflare, specializing in feminine, fashion-forward, high-performance athletic attire for triathletes. Triflare became the only all-female team to win a 2013 Arch Grant, giving the company $50,000 and office space in T-REx. The company’s ultra-creative line—carried locally by Big Shark Bicycle Company and internationally at D’Ornellas in Canada—features boldly patterned triathlon suits with matching afterrace dresses. Today, Triflare offers 15 triathlon-specific looks, and has expanded into running and cycling apparel. It also boasts endorsements from three professional triathletes— most notably, Alicia Kaye, Life Time Tri Series Pro and Triple Crown Series Champion 2013. The company is looking to eventually move clothing production to St. Louis, making the business 100 percent local. – CR


Dagan Xavier and Dheeraj Patri

(L-R) Co-founders, FoodEssentials
Two months after creating their website, the founders of FoodEssentials landed their first client, the US Food and Drug Administration, a five-year contract worth $3.16 million. “It gave us instant credibility,” Dheeraj Patri says. “Suddenly all my phone calls got answered.” Co-founded by Patri and brothers Dagan and Anton Xavier, FoodEssentials collects raw data and performs deep analysis on every ingredient in the foods we eat, well beyond what’s printed on the label. (Case in point: The government’s decision to investigate trans fats was driven, in part, by FoodEssentials data.) The company relocated to STL after winning a $50,000 Arch Grant, and has since grown from three to 16 full-time employees and 40 part-timers nationwide, boasting 8 million-plus mobile users each month. Later this year, the company expects to gain the ability to understand why people choose certain foods, further establishing FoodEssentials as the driver of food data innovation. – CR

Chris Goodson

Partner/Principal, Fields Foods and The Gilded Age
In 2004, with rain pouring through the roof, Chris Goodson ambled among bed frames and rubble. Where most would see something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, Goodson, a Lafayette Square neighborhood developer, saw City Hospital as a potential crowning jewel. A few years and $80 million later, the hospital is now a 102-loft building, catering company, event space and indoor climbing gym. His latest project, Fields Foods, proves to be equally visionary. The Lafayette Square grocery store that opened last month features kiosks for every specialty—butcher, chef, seafood, wine and beer—with many foods sourced within a 100-mile radius of the city. “We need to keep building on the momentum we have as a city,” Goodson says. “We have a lot of pockets of cool neighborhoods. Now we just need to connect them.” – JN


Dagan Xavier and Dheeraj Patri

(L-R) Co-founders, FoodEssentials
Two months after creating their website, the founders of FoodEssentials landed their first client, the US Food and Drug Administration, a five-year contract worth $3.16 million. “It gave us instant credibility,” Dheeraj Patri says. “Suddenly all my phone calls got answered.” Co-founded by Patri and brothers Dagan and Anton Xavier, FoodEssentials collects raw data and performs deep analysis on every ingredient in the foods we eat, well beyond what’s printed on the label. (Case in point: The government’s decision to investigate trans fats was driven, in part, by FoodEssentials data.) The company relocated to STL after winning a $50,000 Arch Grant, and has since grown from three to 16 full-time employees and 40 part-timers nationwide, boasting 8 million-plus mobile users each month. Later this year, the company expects to gain the ability to understand why people choose certain foods, further establishing FoodEssentials as the driver of food data innovation. – CR

Chris Goodson

Partner/Principal, Fields Foods and The Gilded Age
In 2004, with rain pouring through the roof, Chris Goodson ambled among bed frames and rubble. Where most would see something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, Goodson, a Lafayette Square neighborhood developer, saw City Hospital as a potential crowning jewel. A few years and $80 million later, the hospital is now a 102-loft building, catering company, event space and indoor climbing gym. His latest project, Fields Foods, proves to be equally visionary. The Lafayette Square grocery store that opened last month features kiosks for every specialty—butcher, chef, seafood, wine and beer—with many foods sourced within a 100-mile radius of the city. “We need to keep building on the momentum we have as a city,” Goodson says. “We have a lot of pockets of cool neighborhoods. Now we just need to connect them.” – JN


Nicole Hudson

Founder, Because Really and St. Louis for the Love
Nicole Hudson, a St. Louis-area native and former general manager of the St. Louis Beacon, grew tired of the reverse negatives and city comparisons that often guided the discussions about her hometown. In 2011, Hudson launched St. Louis for the Love, which combines her digital media know-how (a field she has been steeped in since 1997) with her passion for St. Louis. Rather than focusing on comparisons, Hudson’s work profiles people who proudly choose St. Louis and are living interesting lives. Shortly after, she also launched This is St. Louis, a blog and special section in the Beacon that highlights the unique human experiences of the area. Both projects received the RFT Best Photostream Webby Award. Underlying all of her work is her curiosity for what social media tools can create and a love for her city—two qualities Hudson is helping others to shape in her new consulting practice, Because Really. – JN

Derek and Lucas Gamlin

(L-R) Owners, Gamlin Restaurant Group
Talk about a big year: After spending almost a decade perfecting Sub Zero Vodka Bar, brothers Lucas and Derek Gamlin expanded their brand in a big way in 2013. The duo took over the former Liluma space just down the street from Sub Zero and crafted it into the Gamlin Whiskey House, an upscale whiskey haven focused on fine spirits and steaks. The destination has become an instant hotspot with demand so great that the brothers are already in the midst of another expansion, utilizing the space that formerly housed Green Bean for more Whiskey House dining space and a second bar while simultaneously converting the office space just upstairs into a 5,500-squarefoot private event space and hub for Gamlin Events and Catering (both spaces are scheduled to open this summer). As if that wasn’t enough, “The Brothers Gamlin” are partners on the recently opened Taha’a Twisted Tiki in The Grove, are in the midst of an eight-year contract with the Edward Jones Dome (providing food and drink at tailgates, and at the Dome’s Sub Zero Vodka Bar Club and 50-yard line bars under the Whiskey House and Sub Zero monikers), while also bringing the Sub Zero experience for the first time to Blues fans at Scottrade Center. How the Gamlins will top themselves next remains to be seen, but we’re sure whatever it is will be just as tasty. – MS


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