This city has more women-led startups than any other in the U.S.


St. Louis has more female entrepreneurs than any other major city in America, according to a new analysis by Seek Capital. The numbers, pulled from the U.S. Census Bureau Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE), looked at female-owned businesses that gross at least $1000 annually and have been in business for two years or less, categorizing the businesses as startups.

Nationwide, only 24.5% of startups that fit within these parameters are owned by women, but in St. Louis, MO, 45.2% of startups, that is 2,726 businesses, are female owned. The midwestern city is followed by Austin, TX, in which 32.7% of startups are owned by women, and Providence, RI is in third place, with 30.9% of startups owned by women. Of the top three though, Austin may be the most lucrative city for female entrepreneurs: While female-owned businesses in St. Louis and Providence average between $150 to $500 million in gross sales, Austin entrepreneurs are raking in $500 million to $1 billion.

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While St. Louis may be top for its quantity of female entrepreneurs, it may not be the best in the midwest in terms of profit. In nearby Kansas City, 29.1% of startups are female-owned, and gross an average $500 million to $1 billion, almost twice that of St. Louis’ female-owned startups. Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Houston also all make the top 20 list (Chicago, Boston and New York, notably, do not), with smaller numbers of female-owned businesses but higher receipts, all averaging between $1 to $5 billion annually. Of course, the cost of living in some of these cities can be significantly higher than in Missouri, making more of the gross sales go back to operation costs.

So why does St. Louis have significantly more female entrepreneurs than any city in the country? One may speculate that this city with the greatest gender pay disparity in the country leads women to take charge and start their own businesses in order to earn what they’re worth. The low cost of living in St. Louis, 6% lower than the national average, may also attribute to the success of so many female businesses. In fact, this online tool can help city dwellers across the U.S. calculate how far their income would go in St. Louis, with lower costs of housing, groceries, healthcare and utilities.

Inc. lists a low cost of living among the top qualities a city must have to breed successful startups, as well as a supportive ecosystem, higher education presence, pool of mentors and access to funding. Home to to the elite Washington University in St. Louis, ten Fortune 500 companies, and three of America’s wealthiest suburbs, not to mention, a huge pool of woman-run businesses, St. Louis certainly seems to fit the recipe for a great startup city.