Venture Café: Sparking Ideas Through Networking

Venture Café came to St. Louis in late 2014 with a dream of bringing something new to our community. Organizers wanted to create a place where people in our community could gather to network and share ideas about how to innovate. The Cortex Innovation Center location represented the first ever expansion outside of their founding location in Boston, MA. Since that time, the Café has offered weekly gatherings on Thursdays from 3-8 p.m. at Cortex with programming aimed at capturing imaginations and advocating collaboration.

Gathering organizers are quick to emphasize the factors that make the gatherings an inclusive environment, including the fact that about 30% of the 500 attendees at each week’s gathering are first-time visitors.

Less than three years later, Venture Café is expanding their offering beyond the Thursday Gatherings to include themed events in different locations. Venture Café Nights: 39 North, is a weekly gathering loosely focused on plant and medical issues that takes place on Tuesdays from 3-8 p.m at the Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur. The other new offering is called Venture Café: Activate, and meets the second Tuesday of each month from 5-8 p.m. at LaunchCode on Delmar. The Activate events are specifically focused on innovation around civic issues in St. Louis.

Executive Director Tyler Matthews wants potential participants to know that Café events are for anyone who is curious about making things, whether they be tech-related or not. He welcomes the prospect of new collaborators saying of each week’s varied programming, “If there are eight to twelve sessions, it’s more than likely you’ll find something you like.” All Venture Café gatherings feature free beer and wine with a three-drink limit.

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