What Happens When You Show Up @ Venture Cafe
Famous filmmaker Woody Allen once quipped that life is 80 percent showing up. He recognized the value in making an effort to be physically present, to look people in the eye and share conversation and experience. In today’s social media fueled, online world the simple act of showing up has taken on increased importance as we’re addicted to keeping our thumbs busy and heads down staring at the blue light of device screens.
Hey, I’m tethered to my devices as much as the next person, but I’m also cognizant of the benefits of sitting down next to someone and engaging in meaningful conversation. And that’s what’s happening at Venture Cafe. People are showing up. From Winston-Salem. From Greensboro. From Clemmons, Kernersville, East Bend, Thomasville, King and even Roanoke VA to share their innovation and entrepreneurial dreams. More than 175 folks gather each Thursday to learn, connect and find ways to help one another and our community.
Here’s what happens when you show up at Venture Cafe. Entrepreneurs are finding office space. Investors are learning about new local opportunities. People new to the area are landing job interviews and making new connections. Business owners are finding mentors and resources to help them grow and thrive. Local non-profits are sharing their stories. Experts are sharing their knowledge with those who are hungry to learn. Exciting connections and opportunities are being forged across every quarter of the city through new relationships. Creative collisions happen every Thursday in unexpected ways – between students and CEOs, designers and engineers, scientists and artists. It’s like a Jackson Pollock painting – it may look like chaos, but it’s highly engineered serendipity.
Here’s a story about showing up. Last week, I attended a meeting in Greensboro with their entrepreneurial ecosystem members. Winston has a similar group that I also attend, but this was my first time being invited to the Greensboro group. So I showed up. And man am I glad I did. One of the most common questions I get from local innovators and entrepreneurs is “How do I find (fill in the blank)?” This is a great question that highlights one of the serious deficiencies of our current local ecosystem – there’s no centralized resource to help entrepreneurs find all the expertise, resources and connections they need. There’s no place for local investors to find and evaluate potential investment opportunities. There’s no regional calendar that captures all the events happening around innovation, entrepreneurship and small business.
So, I’ve been researching potential solutions, examining online portals, and starting to formulate a strategy. Turns out it’s being built. In Greensboro. By a group that’s far down the tracks on development, already has grant money and has a regional charter. Now, instead of spinning wheels and unintentionally creating a new silo, we can champion their initiative and maximize the impact.
Where do you need to be? Who do you need to meet? What are the conversations that need to happen? What are the other solutions you can champion? That’s what happens when you show up. See you out there.
Karen Barnes is the executive director of Venture Café Winston-Salem. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org