Café Offers Innovative ‘Venture’ to Cambridge

Posted by Daniel Kobialka

The Venture Café

The Venture Café operates at One Broadway, Fourth Floor in Cambridge. (Photo Credit: The Venture Café)

The city of Cambridge maintains an atmosphere of innovation and entrepreneurship as the home of M.I.T. and Harvard University.

But a local event adds the “venture” to adventurous visitors looking for a unique experience.

The Venture Café, a weekly Kendall Square-based event, brings its mission “to enable fresh and useful conversations” to entrepreneurs and innovators across the Bay State.

The weekly gathering offers attendees a chance to join fellow innovators in a comfortable atmosphere every Thursday evening.

“There’s a lot of different things happening,” Venture Café chief advisor and chairman Tim Rowe told the New England post. “It’s a place to meet people.”

The Venture Café

The Venture Café began in March 2010. (Photo Credit: The Venture Café)

Rowe, Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) founder and CEO, launched the café in March 2010 on a 12-week trial basis. The café operated out of the CIC during the trial period.

Rowe noted the he wanted to give people a place where any entrepreneur could connect with one another in a social atmosphere.

“We’re open. We’re accessible,” Rowe said at the Venture Café on Sept. 15. “We’re not phony, as someone at the café said tonight.”

Rowe’s experiments proved successful as the café expanded its operations in less than a year.

“This has been hugely valuable for us as we have gathered learnings about how to actually stimulate community and create new connections, as well as about less glamorous details,” Rowe said in a January 27 blog post referring to the café’s initial trial period. “To a significant degree we are already accomplishing what we set out to do, without investment. We’re happy about this.”


Entrepreneurs come together at Thursday's Venture Café event. (Photo Credit: Daniel Kobialka)

Rowe announced the café found a permanent home in Kendall Square in January. The CIC founder and CEO said the café received roughly 2,000 visitors in less than a year, thanks in large part to the work of its volunteers.

“It’s not that challenging,” Rowe said of operating the café. “The best ideas just make themselves happen.”

Microsoft search engine Bing started out as an independent entrepreneurial venture, eventually becoming the second most popular search engine worldwide. Bing team members visited the café Sept. 15 to share their knowledge with local entrepreneurs.

Bing Senior Program Manager Betsy Aoki noted the search engine’s involvement could help entrepreneurs and startups learn what it takes to grow.

“It’s not per se about Bing as a tech product,” Aoki told New England Post of Bing’s appearance at Thursday evening’s event. “The more important thing is to boost the startups.”

Bing made its initial “venture” to the café, offering entrepreneurs a Bing startup love kit featuring information about finding and funding along with gadgets including a Nerf startup gun and solar-powered cell phone charger.

Venture Café

The Venture Café offers entrepreneurs the chance to meet in a casual atmosphere featuring food, drinks and networking. (Photo Credit: Daniel Kobialka)

“This is new for us, but hopefully it’ll all be helpful,” Aoki said. “It’s not a traditional lecture hall, but it’s definitely an awesome networking space.”

Turner Business Services founder Corey Turner recognized the café provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to meet colleagues.

“I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and this is a great grouping of them,” Turner told New England Post at Thursday’s event.

Rowe said he anticipates the café will continue to bring entrepreneurs together.

“I think it’s doing well, and it will be more of the same in the future,” Rowe said. “I take pleasure in seeing people make connections.”

Cambridge’s One Broadway hosts the café on its fourth floor every Thursday. The Sept. 22 café will feature a roundtable with word-of-mouth marketing firm BzzAgent CEO and founder David Balter, a clean technology networking event sponsored by Cleantech and complimentary pizza courtesy of smarturl.

Short URL:

Posted by Daniel Kobialka on Sep 19 2011. Filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Café Offers Innovative ‘Venture’ to Cambridge”

  1. Hi, Betsy from Bing here. Wanted to thank Daniel for taking time to interview me during a noisy and hectic night at Venture Cafe . Also, need to correct something in the article - Bing has always been a Microsoft product and organization so am not sure why its cast as independent (maybe cause we are seeming so feisty? :) ) We are honored to support the Boston startup ecosystem because we ourselves face similar challenges - establishing a new brand, winning customers, becoming profitable - and because innovation is important to Bing and to Microsoft - and, it’s fun. :) Hope to see all of you in startupland more this fall. Thanks for coming out to Venture Cafe - they are a great group over there at the CIC!

Leave a Reply

Log in | Maintained by BlackDoor Creative