059: Kim Plank (Captains of Innovation)

Kim Plank on Innovation City

“Corporates and startups, they need each other, but… there’s something about the way they communicate; they just can’t seem to figure out how to do that well.” — Kim Plank

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 Kim Plank, Midwest Regional Director at Captains of Innovation, a Venture Cafe Global program. Captains of Innovation helps corporations accelerate innovation by introducing them to emerging talents and startups. Kim has a long history of entrepreneurship and economic development. She is the former General Manager of the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in St. Louis, and prior to that she worked at the St. Louis Regional Chamber as the Directory of Health Sciences & Services. Kim joins the Innovation City podcast today to share her insights on building innovation ecosystems, what corporations and startups can learn from one another, and how to go about starting a business or becoming an entrepreneur for the first time.

They discuss:

  • What is a Captain of Innovation?
  • CIC: the hardware hub that creates a physical ecosystem for innovation in various cities around the world
  • Venture Cafe Global Institute
    • Venture Cafe: the software for CIC; programming that brings innovators together
    • Innovation Halls
    • Captains of Innovation: The communication bridge between Corporations & Startups
  • Corporations and Startups need each other, but don’t know how to meet each other or interact successfully:
    • Corporations struggle to invest well in innovation
    • Many startups don’t fair well when getting absorbed by corporations
  • Captains of Innovation speaks both Corporate and Startup languages, and helps large corporations learn how to interact with startups
  • 9 locations around the world
  • Global scans for possible startup technology matches (along with startup lists) allow Captains of Innovation to provide exceptional human-oriented startup-matching
  • Dreaming up new business models for companies that need to pivot
  • Successful meet-up for fintech startups for Ernst and Young
    • Bringing investors, clients, startups, and top internal employees together
  • How startups can make themselves more attractive to corporate investors
    • Figure out what problems corporations are dealing with
    • Learning how to sell
    • Expanding your network
    • Listen to people, don’t tell them what they need
  • Startups need to learn how to speak corporate, and how to understand what they are looking for
  • Corporations need to learn how to speak startup, too — a two-way street
  • There are a lot of large corporations that are farther behind the curve than you might think in terms of innovation and understanding of startup culture
  • What attracts talent and new technologies?
  • The joy Kim takes in teaching corporations the lessons she’s learned from startups
  • The importance of giving startups and equal seat at the table
  • What makes a Venture Cafe city?
  • Who are the connectors in Venture Cafe cities?
  • How to learn to find your way as an entrepreneur in STL
  • Startup Ecosystems: Center for Emerging Technologies’Square One, and other opportunities to explore or test business models or products