Hours of Connection
“I feel like Venture Cafe is a connector, you know, I’ve met so many people and new colleagues now that I have worked with or that I know I’ll be working with and most of them I’ve met either directly at Venture Cafe or through someone that I have met a Venture Cafe.”
— E.A. Green, Founder and CEO of Opin Media Lab
Almost one-third identify as Startup Employees or Founders, showing that we have risk-takers, innovators and decision-makers in our audience every week.
“I think Venture Cafe gives young people especially that push and that support system because we’ll be the first ones to say that starting your own business and leaving your corporate job can be really terrifying, but with the support of Venture Cafe we’ve had people say, ‘It’s not so bad. You’re going to be OK.’ It really filled that void for us.”
— Maggie Pendalwar, COO, Proodos
Third grade reading levels set the number of beds in prison. After seeing this chilling correlation between literacy and crime, the Winston Salem Police Department and the Winston-Salem Police Foundation decided to get directly involved. Rather than passing the buck onto parents, schools or communities, the police developed an innovative solution to impacting child literacy rates in the communities they protect and serve: The Sweet Reads Literacy Program.
“We have an obligation to help our children be successful. The more successful children we have, the more possibility of having a successful adult who contributes in a positive way to society and reduces our crime rate.”
— Chief Catrina Thompson, Winston-Salem Police
“Venture Cafe has definitely helped me just be inspired. Venture Cafe is an experience I tell everyone about, especially if you’re an entrepreneur, or even if you’re just trying to find your space in life or trying to find your way. I feel like Venture Cafe is the perfect space to go to learn things, to just express yourself, to just be in a space with inviting people.”
— Christen Funderburk,
Founder, Lizzie’s All-Natural Products
“Without ACCESS, we would not be able to fulfill contracts because we needed funding. They eased our hearts and minds and allowed me to sleep at night…and gave our business the ability to keep growing, to keep moving, and really gave us a boost that we would not have received any place else.”
– Vincent Brown, Statesville
Painting & Maintenance
Opened in June 2019, the ACCESS Center for Equity + Success provides contract matching, certification support, capital and resources to high-potential minority-owned and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBE’s). ACCESS Center serves MWBE contractors, suppliers, and service providers who have existing businesses.
“We’ve been to a lot of different Venture Cafes, but the one that they have here in Winston-Salem is great because it’s always a reflection of the community. You have people from all over the world who have discovered and come to Winston-Salem.”
– Kevin Clark, Founder and CEO, Point Motion
*Many individuals also support entrepreneurial efforts in our ecosystem
Thank you to our Program Sponsors who have gone above and beyond to financially contribute to our Thursday Gathering programming. We appreciate your support!
L. DAVID MOUNTS FOUNDATION
WAKE FOREST INNOVATION QUARTER
WEXFORD SCIENCE + TECHNOLOGY
CITY OF WINSTON-SALEM
THE MILLENNIUM FUND
WOMBLE BOND DICKINSON, LLP
We’re incredibly thankful for our Partners who provide critical funding and operational support that ensures Venture Cafe
Winston-Salem remains accessible and open to all!
Venture Cafe began in 2009 with an experiment by the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) to test a simple hypothesis: if we bring together innovators and entrepreneurs to engage in spontaneous conversations and semi-curated programming, they’ll come up with never-before-imagined innovations to make the world a better place and generate economic growth. And, it’s working.
In October 2019, Venture Cafe Winston-Salem participated in a special collaboration with our partners at Venture Cafe Miami to bring a cohort of female entrepreneurs to Capital Days Miami – a big step in opening up access to capital for many women and minority founders in our community, and a great look ahead at the possibilities for leveraging the Venture Cafe Global Network in the future. Check out what some of the founders had to say about their experience, and what we’re excited to bring to the Winston-Salem ecosystem.
“We as Executive Directors in this global network are trying to create more connectivity between our sites, and this was one of the first opportunities we’ve had to really collaborate with our friends here in Miami. I also wanted to have a better personal understanding of what investors are looking for as we at Venture Cafe start to look at how we are attracting startups to Winston-Salem with economic development incentives. I want Winston-Salem to be known as one of the best places to grow a startup for women and minorities in the entire country.”