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On June 13th, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center will host the Missouri Venture Forum’s Roadmap to Entrepreneurship education program. Formed in 1985, the Missouri Venture Forum (MVF) is a non-profit, membership-based St. Louis organization that supports the entrepreneurial community and offers business resources, networking and educational resources for budding entrepreneurs.
We caught up with Sorin Vaduva, board member at MVF and partner at Exeteur Group, who shared with us six reasons why you should get this event on your calendar:
Because the speakers are people you’d want to listen to. MVF has has tapped some vital people in the startup space to speak at The Roadmap to Entrepreneurship including keynote speaker Dr. Robert T. Fraley, EVP and CTO of Monsanto who will discuss high-tech ideas and the need to collaborate with other organizations. A second keynote will be delivered by Jim Eberlin, CEO of TopOPPS, who will talk about what it takes to start three companies in St. Louis. And of course, the panelists, thirty of them that will share their experience in starting businesses.
2. Because you’ll get key insights on starting a company from people who’ve been in the trenches. “We call it a Roadmap to Entrepreneurship because we show you the essential things you need to get started — how to form a company, how to create a business plan, how to get money — and so on, until you end up with paying clients and are ready for an exit” says Vaduva. “It’s the A to Z of entrepreneurship, and the six panels are going to focus on those issues; also, we’ll discuss the resources you need and the kind of critical expertise for success you need to have when you get involved in a startup operation. Some people are going to be starting a company because they have an idea, but others will want to join a company and they will want to know where their expertise is valued. So, if somebody has an idea, they will learn about organizations like IdeaLabs, MEDLaunch, ITEN, Square One, to name a few, that will help them understand where they need to go to find more support.”
3. Because if you moved here for your spouse’s job, St. Louis needs you. A unique segment of people that the Roadmap to Entrepreneurship is targeting consists of spouses of people already tapped into the St. Louis workforce. “If a husband or wife gets a good job at a university or a large corporation in St. Louis and they make a decision to relocate here, it’s very likely that individual will have a spouse who is also highly educated but might not be able to find a job right away,” says Vaduva. “We would like to show those individuals how vibrant our entrepreneurial space is, with the idea that they will get involved in startup companies and also involve their entire families in the St. Louis workforce.”
4. Because MVF is a leader in promoting a more diverse innovation community in St. Louis. Inclusivity is a hot topic in the startup and tech space right now for a good reason—and MVF is addressing that by encouraging more foreign-born founders. “The St. Louis region has about 4.5 % foreign-born people and if you compare us with cities like New York or San Francisco, you’ll find that more vibrant regions always have a higher percentage of foreign-born people,” says Vaduva. “We’d like to have more collaborations with the world and what better way to do it than with foreign-born people becoming part of our ecosystem and helping promote St. Louis products and services oversea.” MVF also sees the importance of diversity in all its forms, race, gender, age, etc. “We want to improve the balance of diversity in the entrepreneurial space,” says Vaduva. “Some people joke but I would agree, that if you look around the community, it’s mostly males over 45. We’d like to involve more young people, more women and minorities, we want to reach out to those communities.”
5. Because MVF has put a premium on talent retention. “There’s a lot of effort in the ecosystem to attract younger people coming out of universities and we’d like to keep them here in St. Louis and bring them together with the older generations,” says Vaduva “When you do that, you have a transition of expertise between generations and everything works better that way.”
6. Because such an event is a capsule of the innovation community right now. Vaduva credits incubators, angel and venture capitals and organizations helping entrepreneurs with various types of technology, from bio-tech to IT for helping St. Louis’ community grow, and now MVF wants to help it to continue to grow. “When they come with a new business concept and says ‘we have no idea where to start’, I want to take each one of them and show how to network, how to find resources and expertise so they can be successful, and that’s what the Roadmap to Entrepreneurship is meant to do,” says Vaduva.