Carrie has been a force to reckon with, working with us at Cambridge Innovation Center over the past two years to make Venture Cafe Alpha into what it is today, and further to work to advance the street-level cafe plans. I want to let you know that Carrie Stalder, our Founding Manager at Venture Cafe, will be moving on. Her last day will be June 2.
Carrie was deeply involved in the planning stages of the cafe, and launched the Venture Café Alpha, as you know, a little over a year ago. A measure of her success is that the “bustling” Venture Cafe was recently highlighted in the Boston Globe’s recent editorial calling out the grass-roots success of Kendall Square.
The Cafe has been in “lean startup” mode, using resources sparingly. Carrie has been instrumental in making this possible, assembling a large and dedicated volunteer community around the cafe, including bartenders, technologists, community facilitators, and special projects people. This has been hugely valuable as we have gathered learnings about how to actually stimulate community and create new connections, as well as about less glamorous details. We are accomplishing what we set out to do, without the need to go out and ask people for money. We’re proud of this.
Thousands of people have attended café gatherings so far. We have built partnerships with half a hundred organizations in the community, including notably a strong partnership with the New England Venture Capital Association, which has led dozens of VCs and angels to hold office hours within the Venture Cafe, and which went on to open its CriticalMass entrepreneur hub down the hall.
Carrie has brought her personality and creativity to the cafe, every aspect of which shows the mark of her innovative thinking. She has been a catalyst for new human-scale, interactive programming like The Capital Network‘s UpStart Roundtable series, which connects a seasoned entrepreneur with those just setting out on the path, and is in her element as a ‘connector’ for newcomers and regulars alike.
In the immediate future, two individuals will step up to take the reins. One of our bartenders, Brian Wang, is stepping up to a new role as Venture Cafe Operations Manager, and Renee Lin is Acting Venture Cafe Community Manager. Both Renee and Brian have long been active volunteers of the highest caliber, and we’re thrilled to have them step into these roles.
In addition, we are opening a search for a new General Manager aka Curator of the Venture Cafe. We are seeking a dynamic, high-energy individual with a deep commitment to building real community in this age of digital distraction. This person should be a sophisticated digerati with terrific social skills and the organizational skills to envision how Venture Cafe will grow and help build our region’s innovation community into the hottest, best-connected, most enjoyable innovation community in the world.
Thanks to Carrie and also all of you for your support in this mission. Please let me know if you or someone you know is the right fit to be our next manager, and, meanwhile, drop by the Venture Café – in session every Thursday, 3-8PM at CIC on the 4th floor.