Venture Café’s mission is to connect innovators to make things happen.
Venture Café is a global movement working to build stronger and more inclusive innovation ecosystems and accelerate and enhance the innovation process, in cities around the world. It does this through its use of programming, space, storytelling, and broad innovation engagement.
Innovation is fueled by conversation, collaboration, and storytelling. Venture Café enhances and accelerates the innovation process through spaces, programs, and conversations for individuals and organizations to gather and build relationships.
Hi-Tech, Bioscience, Advanced Manufacturing, Social Equity, Art, Government, Education, Renewable Energy, and others.
Venture Café was born out of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in 2009. CIC realized that it supported companies that had some amount of capital and a solid plan. Money and a plan are important steps in the entrepreneurial process, but they are more like Step 2 or Step 3. What was missing were Step 0 and Step 1 – honing ideas, raising money, mentorship, connection to deep knowledge, and general collaboration opportunities. All these steps and elements present as the foundation in a thriving innovation ecosystem. Most importantly, these elements are fluid enough to be deployed and redeployed over and over again to provide the right level of support at the right moment, to the right ideas, to the right people.
Venture Café was originally conceived as a restaurant but the business model didn’t work – restaurants require constant turnover and the social contract is you don’t talk to others. This didn’t fit with Venture Café’s goal: gather people who don’t necessarily know each other to stay and talk to each other. Venture Café has been an iterative process from the beginning that continues to be refined. At its core, Venture Café provides the necessary connective tissue to uncover and link the various parts of an innovation ecosystem. Venture Café currently operates in Boston, MA (established 2009), St. Louis, MO (established 2014), Rotterdam, Netherlands (established 2015), and Miami, FL (established 2016).
Venture Café St. Louis operates three programs and will add additional programs in the future as the operation grows. Below are the three initial programs.
The Venture Café Thursday Gathering
This is a weekly event that attracts new and existing members of the innovation community. It is the foundation and lynchpin of the Venture Café program, contributing deeply to all other aspects of the organization’s work. The Weekly Gathering combines opportunities to network and a variety of high-impact educational sessions. Venture Café St. Louis, brings in over 530 people weekly. It is important to note that approximately 30% of the attendees are new each week, 20% attend occasionally, and 50% are frequent attendees. This mix allows for the events to remain fresh and exciting due to the new attendees and also allows for deep relationships and a strong community to be formed over time. Over the course of one year, there can be 25,000 attendees and nearly 500 educational sessions as part of the Thursday Gathering.
Venture Café Nights
Our new Café Nights expand our reach and connect with a broader audience.
Venture Café Night: 39 North
Every 3rd Tuesday of the month, Venture Café Nights: 39 North unites entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators together to learn, mentor and support each other.
The focus is on facilitating discussions and connections within plant science and agricultural technology. Programming will be curated around a variety of topics from food and energy security to sustainability to big data and machine learning.
Venture Café Night: Activate
Every 2nd Tuesday of the month, Venture Café Nights: Activate brings a diverse group of entrepreneurs, creatives and innovators together to learn, mentor and support each other.
The focus is on applying innovation to civic and social issues in North City and beyond. Programming will specifically be curated to address the goals of the Promise Zone, Forward Through Ferguson and 100 Resilient Cities.