L. David Mounts | February 15, 2017

Some of the most intriguing, impactful, high-energy people I have encountered are those with a spirit for entrepreneurship and innovation. They're smart, visionary, determined, optimistic…but, bringing innovation to life can be a lonely endeavor, especially in a highly technical, regulatory-laden environment that is moving at a never before seen pace.

While one person can have a great idea and a great plan, the best success is achieved in a supportive environment that lets the innovator focus their energy on their idea not red tape. This is the reason I am committed to entrepreneurial ecosystems —cohesive collaboration of resources that come around innovators to offer support, education, funding, etc.

Venture Café Winston-SalemVenture Café is a social platform that gives this type of support a place to gather under one roof — free education and networking for entrepreneurs and those interested in innovation. It recently expanded to its fifth location in Winston-Salem, NC, joining Boston-Cambridge, Mass.; St. Louis, Mo.; Miami, Fla.; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. The 501c3 nonprofit facilitates support and an active network for people interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. In each city, weekly meetings, which are free and open to anyone — entrepreneurs, educators, artists, students — provide a forum to connect, engage and learn from each other and experts from across the region who present on relevant topics. It connects our area and our innovators to a global network of innovators and entrepreneurs.

If you are fortunate to live in or near the cities in which Venture Café is located, get involved. There is something for everyone - not just entrepreneurs, but also those looking to drive innovation and change in education, government, non-profit, healthcare and business — students should be involved as well. It can mean the difference between success and failure, or shorten the time to market for important ideas that make lives better and communities and industries stronger.

L. David Mounts