It’s 4:30 on a warm August afternoon in St. Louis, and Jim McKelvey sits down to chat about the latest project into which he is pouring his passion. If the St. Louis entrepreneur is growing weary of talking about his initiative called Launch Code, he certainly isn’t showing it. Nearly three hours earlier, McKelvey held court for 45 minutes with local media and members of the St. Louis startup community, talking nearly non-stop about his vision of pairing 100 St. Louis companies with 100 budding computer programmers in an effort to help both. After explaining the program in detail to the assembled group, McKelvey met individually with reporters from KMOX Radio, Fox 2, The Beacon online news source, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, never once skipping a beat.
These are busy times for the co-founder of Square, the device which allows businesses and individuals to easily accept and process credit card payments using a cell phone and a magnetic card reader that’s plugged into the cell phone. A few days earlier, he announced a program called 630, a financial services tech accelerator that seeks to bring more financial-based tech startups to St. Louis.
Next month, he’ll be on the campus of St. Louis University, addressing more than 1,000 high school students looking to get involved in the St. Louis entrepreneurial ecosystem.
McKelvey cautions not to read too much into this flurry of recent activity aimed at boosting the startup movement in his hometown. The recent efforts are more a product of ideas coming to fruition at about the same time, he says, rather than some grander plan. “It’s not like I just got bad news from the oncologist, or anything like that,” he tells me.
McKelvey uses words like “game-changing” to describe Launch Code. It’s hard to doubt a person who wrote and published two computer programming textbooks, one of which became a best seller, before he reached the age of 20. Hear Jim McKelvey talk about Launch Code, 630, Square, and his views on the St. Louis startup movement in this interview heard on KMOX Radio’s Charlie Brennan Show on August 27, 2013.