100 or 100

Celebrating a Milestone

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by in Careers
October 4, 2016


We are hitting a milestone this week, and we think it’s a good time to share a brief update about Venture Cafe St. Louis. This week is Gathering 100! We hit the triple digits. Over the course of two years, we’ve welcomed more than 45,000 attendees to Venture Cafe. Each week only 15 percent come from within the Cortex Innovation Community, so that means so many more come from outside the district. Our goal from the beginning was to create a welcoming and encouraging place for innovators and entrepreneurs to connect, grow, and learn.

As part of this milestone we are giving away money during this week’s Venture Cafe Gathering!

We will have a whiteboard available and we’ll ask you to tell us what you’d do with $100. Sure, it’s not much money, but we believe a little money in the right hands have an impact. We’ll pick one winner and they will get to choose between $100 or 100% of the cash tips from the night.


  • Finally register your business with the Secretary of State
  • Buy some Facebook ads to drive traffic to your site
  • Get your first set of business cards
  • Cover your eNews subscription costs
  • Get about twenty things done on Fiverr
  • Take a class at TechShop to learn how to produce your prototype
  • More…

I was hired in July of 2014 and we started our programming on October 2, 2014. Shortly after I was hired, I knew this effort was going to do more than just engage the usual suspects in the tech and bioscience communities. I stood by my belief that innovation can be a process to improve the human condition, and in the summer of 2014, we saw a very clear example of the human condition in need of improvement. The death of Michael Brown and the subsequent unrest, magnified the need for an innovative response and solution. We didn’t exactly know what the role of Venture Cafe was going to be, but we knew we were going to use our platform to address a broad range of issues. So we started to build programming. We focused on education, the arts, nonprofits, advanced manufacturing, government, and the tech/bio sectors. And it worked. It is still working. It’s worked so well that St. Louis has been asked to step up even more.

I have been asked to lead the Venture Cafe Global Institute (VCGI), and more importantly, it will be headquartered in St. Louis. With four locations currently in operation (Boston, St. Louis, Rotterdam and Miami) and plans for expansion to many new places at accelerated growth rates in the near future, VCGI was created to support the global network of independent Venture Café organizations. VCGI offers training, resources, and guides expansion.


  • Knowledge Sharing
  • Shared Services & Systems
  • Intellectual Property
  • Fundraising Staff
  • On-boarding
  • New Site Development

The success we’ve had, the focus on a broad application of innovation, the community that’s been built, are all assets that I’ll be able to use in my new role heading up VCGI. I will still work very closely with my partners in the St. Louis ecosystem, and look forward to the expanded role. This means we are looking for a new executive director for Venture Cafe St. Louis.

As I prepare to hand over the reigns to a new local leader, I want to ask a favor of you. Help me leave this organization is the strongest position possible. Venture Cafe St. Louis has a budget of approximately $400,000 per year. We serve a lot of people ranging from 6th – 12th graders in our Youth Bootcamp, to K-12 educators as part of our Education Innovation Fellowship Program, to the startup community, to corporates interested in a deeper connection to innovators, and to the general class of innovators just looking for ways to improve the human condition.

Most of what we offer is free, and my job is to rally people behind the mission in an effort to keep programming free. Consider this a rally point.


Thank you for your role in helping build Venture Cafe in St. Louis. Now we have the opportunity to continue to strengthen the local operation and highlight St. Louis each time delegations come here to kick the tires as they consider Venture Cafe for their community.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, contributions to Venture Cafe St. Louis can be tax deductible (please consult your tax advisor).

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