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Discovering CIC and Venture Café

By Jennifer Tran

April 27, 2015

Venture CafeCambridge is buzzing with amazing learning opportunities outside of the Launch classroom.

Last summer, when my friends and I weren’t in class or hard at work on our companies, we scoured the city for new experiences and entrepreneurial activities. Some of my favorite finds were the Cambridge Innovation Center and the Venture Café. The Cambridge Innovation Center, or CIC, was a hub of activity that housed over 600 startups. The brief descriptions on door plaques displayed the wide variety of ventures being explored at the CIC.

As I observed, entrepreneurs from all of the startups meet in communal break rooms to exchange ideas and collaborate, I imagined that someday my team’s startup would have an office at the CIC surrounded by innovators and creators with the same passion for their work. Russell, my teammate, and I also made trips to the Venture Cafe in search of valuable advice and exciting connections.

Venture Café is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building communities of innovators and entrepreneurs, and every Thursday evening the space lights up with networking opportunities and entrepreneurial advice. Everyone from angel investors to designers to scientists meet to make business deals and personal connections. The times that we visited, the energy and excitement of the room was palpable. We conversed and tested different pitches for our company, the Bridge Initiative. We gained tips and ideas to grow not only our businesses but also ourselves as entrepreneurs. As the night progressed we became much more confident in approaching people and asking questions about our companies and the business path.

Everyone from the fledgling entrepreneurs to the seasoned investors showed an amazing amount of passion and excitement for everything they spoke of. We heard from so many diverse minds: from a solar energy engineer who explained the mechanics of a solar panel and the future of alternative energy to a restaurateur who detailed the process of turning a brick and mortar operation into a sleek app-based service. Visiting the CIC and the Venture Café were only a few of the amazing opportunities for learning and inspiration.  They were a great opportunity for team bonding and being able to connect to the vibrant startup community sparked creativity in the toughest parts of launching our startup.

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