I have some personal updates to share. Here is the TL;DR version:
- I’m moving on from Venture Cafe St Louis
- I’m taking on the role of Executive Vice President of Pappos Management USA
- I hope we can still collaborate together in the near future
Moving on from Venture Cafe St Louis
After nearly 5 years at Venture Cafe St Louis, I am moving on. During my time, we connected tens of thousands of innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs to launch businesses and projects to make a better life for themselves and the people around them.
There were many firsts at Venture Cafe. With more than 30,000 members it was by far the largest community I ever oversaw. Within my first week as the executive director, my small team and I were responsible for launching two remote sites, executing projects with multinational companies, fundraising a substantial amount for operations, and launching a new free shared workspace that would be a welcome entry point to the Cortex district. We managed this in addition to running a free, 500-person event each Thursday with 10-14 lectures weekly. We grew from 1.5 full-time employees (FTE) and a $300K budget in 2017 to 7 FTE and $1.5M budget by 2019. We heard countless ideas from first-time entrepreneurs and saw many of those ideas become real companies and projects. After Covid, we rose to the challenge. We moved online, raised funds to continue operations, and pivoted to meet the frequently changing needs of the community. I am proud that we graduated 10 entrepreneurs despite the uncertainty of the market during Covid. This includes 4 SaaS startups through Venture School and 6 equity-focused edtech startups through EdHub. We also built a startup community through our hosted Work-In-Progress events.
I wish the best to the team and CIC & Venture Cafe founder, Tim Rowe who I met with in August to discuss the initial plan for the future of Venture Café St Louis. Thanks to all board members, past and present, for supporting the history we built together. We made a real difference in the innovation community in St Louis and beyond. Also, thank you to all staff, volunteers, community partners, and attendees over the years. I look forward to continued collaboration in the years to come.
I never would have imagined that I’d be in the food business. However, I could no longer ignore the opportunity to grow my family’s rapidly expanding business, Pappos Pizza & Beer Co. I’ll be joining as the Executive Vice President to oversee growth and innovation efforts.
I will continue to advise local innovation, startup, and creative communities. You can find me at future Work-In-Progress events. These weekly community-led events bring innovators and creators together to show what they have made at various stages. I hope to see you there!