Mastercard hosts NXT@4240: Celebrating Women in Tech and in Business

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Mastercard sponsored NXT@4240 at Venture Cafe this week with the theme, “Women in Tech/Women in Business.” Venture Cafe launched NXT@4240 this past spring as a series designed to connect startups with corporations, with AB Mauri and Husch Blackwell sponsoring the first event, and Express Scripts hosting one this summer.

The event included a session titled “The Future of Payments & eCommerce,” which sat Ellen Prinzi, CEO of eCommerce startup and Arch Grants recipient Olio City next to Kim Martin, EVP of Business Operations at Mastercard. Although the session focused on the trends impacting both corporations and startups in the area of eCommerce, it also illustrated the larger theme of women in tech.

Mastercard Venture Cafe
Mastercard Women in Tech/Women in Business panel with Ellen Prinzi of St. Louis-based startup Olio City (right) and Kim Martin, EVP of Business Operations at Mastercard (center), moderated by Travis Sheridan of Venture Cafe (left). | Photo via Patrick Henshaw on Twitter

In addition to Olio City, NXT@4240 featured women-owned ventures Strange OutfittersSTL Radon Tests/Castle Home Inspections and Zipline. Claire Sharp, a high school senior and owner of three-week-old Strange Outfitters, had the opportunity to pitch her limited-edition sweatshirt idea to Mastercard executives during the event. Sharp said, “I was pitching my idea and my business, my progress, my goals, how I got here, about myself. Mastercard gave me feedback about what I can do to grow my company, what I can do to be strictly online, about eCommerce. So it was great feedback.”

Women business owners provided food and beverages from  HandleBardoughocracyThe Big O, and Desserts Out The Jar and More. Yashica McKinney, CEO of Desserts Out The Jar, developed her business idea, “Whatever You Can Bake, We Can Make in a Jar,” after attending and enjoying the vibrancy of the Venture Cafe experience. “I came one day, and I sat in the back of the room. I didn’t have an idea. I didn’t have a business. And I thought, wow, this is great energy. 6 months to a year later, I developed a business and I stayed in contact. I was a speaker here a couple of times. I am just enjoying being able to be here.” Desserts Out The Jar will be featured on Fox Channel 2 next week.

Mastercard also parked its mobile innovation vehicle across the street from @4240, where visitors could use new and innovative Mastercard products such as Groceries by Mastercard in collaboration with Samsung.

According to Travis Sheridan, who until recently served as Executive Director of Venture Café and is now President of the Venture Café Global Institute, now seems like a good time to celebrate women. “Mastercard has been, for one, a great community partner,” he says, “But they’ve been recognized for their work in the LBGT community, equality over all, and their hiring. For Venture Café, we do this every week. We think, ‘what are we going to do to make it special?’ And if nothing else, especially given the last few weeks that we’ve had [referring to the 2016 election results], we can’t do enough to celebrate women in tech and women in business. Something will eventually shatter that glass ceiling.”