056: David Nicklaus (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

David Nicklaus on Innovation City

“Don’t think you’re going to get funded right away just because you have a great idea; you’ve really got to hone it and focus it a lot more before you get to that point.” — David Nicklaus

Welcome to Innovation City—powered by Venture Cafe—where Tyler Kelley and Michael Johnson, Co-Founders of SLAM! Agency, interview innovators, creators, and disruptors to discover how business is changing in the modern world.

Created and produced by SLAM! Agency in cooperation with Venture Cafe St. Louis and Venture Cafe Miami, Innovation City gives you an inside look at how rapidly business and culture are changing thanks to increasing diversity and inclusion, heightened creativity, and a stronger and better-connected business community. Venture Cafe is the largest combined gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators anywhere in the world. Events are held every Thursday in St. Louis, Miami, and other leading innovation cities around the globe.

Today’s guest is David Nicklaus, Business Columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. David has worked at the Post-Dispatch for 36 years, writing three columns per week on business and economic issues. He also appears on The Bottom Line, a weekly video feature covering business topics, and writes other online features as well. David joins the Innovation City team to share his insights on St. Louis’ recent boom in entrepreneurial growth, his vision for the city’s future, and the importance of well-connected, well-resourced local news outlets.

They discuss:

  • What David has learned from following St. Louis’ entrepreneurial community over the course of many years
  • The change and disruption that has occurred in the newspaper industry over the last decade
  • The importance of adapting to changing technologies; taking on podcasting and video work in addition to writing columns
  • Having a front-row seat to St. Louis’ recent burst of entrepreneurial growth:
    • The addition of local venture capital, accelerators, Venture Cafe and other support systems didn’t exist 10 years ago
    • Still in the early days of this growth
  • Turning points in the growth of STL’s entrepreneurial community:
  • What’s Coming:
  • What Challenges does STL face?
  • Talent — Everyone (probably even including Silicon Valley) is facing this issue
    • STEM education is important
    • Selling STL to college graduates and grad students as a place to build careers
  • Money
    • Capital-wise, STL is in a better position than many Midwest cities
    • Ranked 4th in the Midwest
    • Finding more local investors should be a priority
  • Benefits of starting a business in STL
    • Quality of Life
      • Incredible + Free Local Institution, Great Food Scene
    • Cost of Living
      • 10% below the national cost of living
    • Connectivity and Availability of the Business Community
  • The battle of staying relevant in local media
  • The power of a deeply-connected local news organization —for example; recent in-depth coverage of St. Louis’ trash problem brought this issue more serious attention
  • Connecting with audience is key to newspapers and startups
  • The importance of looking at news stories from other points of view
  • The strong need for media literacy; value of being able to identify trusted sources of information
  • The code of ethics that reporters follow when reporting a story
  • What drives David when he writes a story; challenging conventional wisdom, telling the underdog story, making people think about things a little differently
  • David’s advice for people who want to get into journalism
  • His advice for people who want to start a business