Madison Startup Entrepreneurs Wow’d By St. Louis Venture Draft Event

You may not think about it every Sunday, Monday night and Thursday night that you’re watching your favorite NFL football team but an alarming number of pro athletes actually go bankrupt after their professional careers end. In talking with a few celebrities who have almost gone down that route, it’s not even ignorance that some may think. It’s not living beyond your means as a national celebrity, sometimes pro athletes and celebrities really get too busy to manage their money. They also get too busy to think about what happens afterwards.

We’ve all heard the sad stories too, of people like Fantasia Barrino and other stars who have turned their finances over to someone less than qualified to handle such large amounts of money. Celebrities and pro athletes assume that everyone has their best interest at heart.

Well former NFL star and entrepreneur Brandon Williams does. Williams, through his Brandon Williams Economic Development Corporation is trying to connect athletes and celebrities with entrepreneurism. He’s not talking about the kind where a celebrity quickly endorses a product and moves on. Williams is trying to connect entrepreneurs, startups, sports stars and celebrities in a new kind of ecosystem so that entrepreneurs can benefit from investment and athletes and celebrities have a plan for when their careers slow.

One of Williams initiatives is Venture Draft, a startup and entrepreneur event, pitch contest and showcase that happened in St. Louis this past weekend.

ABC Shark Tank Shark, Founder of Fubu and partner in Shark Branding, Daymond John, was one of the top level keynote speakers at the event.  We didn’t raise enough money in our last crowdfunding leg to attend ourselves, but our good friend Scott Resnick in Madison WI led a group of 6 from Madison to St. Louis for the event.

Resnick was “Wowed” by the event and wrote a great entry on his blog where he said:

The first annual Venture Draft Conference was held in St Louis this weekend. The mission of the conference was to bring professional athletes, venture capitalists and technology experts face-to-face to create business opportunities (aka allow entrepreneurs to mingle with and teach current and former NFL players about technology). A tip of the hat to the Brandon Williams Economic Development Corporation: the Venture Draft was a success.

Rarely do I experience a “wow” moment at a tech conference. However, this one was different. Maybe it was the personality of the highlighted speakers (who attended every event) or the charm of St Louis, but there was something special about Venture Draft.

My “wow” moment came right after I had the opportunity to bounce business expansion ideas off keynote speaker Henry Wong of Garage Technology Ventures at a local cigar bar. As I was walking out of the bar to a sponsored after party, Jim Sorgi struck up a conversation about his future with the Colts and time on Gilman Street. Wow, this conference was pretty cool.

Continue here to the Hardin Design & Development Blog for the rest!

St.Louis Preparing For Super Entrepreneur & Startup Event Venture Draft 8/10-8/11

Brandon Williams, through his Brandon Williams Economic Development Corporation, is planning an amazing event for St. Louis called Venture Draft. We love St. Louis, their thriving tech and startup community is starting to catch on like wildfire and in fact they’ve moved from the 49th city in the US to start a new business to 6th in just one year. That’s amazing.

What else is amazing? How about the line up of speakers, investors, and entrepreneurs that Williams has assembled for the event going on at St. Louis’ Anheuser-Busch Auditorium next week on the 10th and 11th.

Williams, who is an accomplished professional athlete, having played on a variety of NFL football teams including the St. Louis Rams, has tackled (you see what I did there), the task of helping to spread and enrich the world of startups and entrepreneurship in St. Louis. Williams has assembled Venture Draft to be the crossroads between professional athletes and celebrities and the tech and venture community.  All the while, making sure an event of this size and nature happened right in his hometown.

“The venture community is always trying to keep up with new technologies while professional athletes are looking for ways to leverage their playing days for more efficient and effective post-sports careers,” says Brandon Williams, co founder of BWEDC and former wide-receiver for the St. Louis Rams. “We understand the needs of both sectors and developed a platform to address them.”

Our good friend Gable Lozano is taking a quick break during a coast to coast fundraising trip to speak at Venture Draft. Also, FUBU founder and ABC Shark Tank investor Daymond John will be there. Successful startup founders like Henry Wong a partner at; Maurice Lopes, CEO & CoFounder at EarlyShares, and Seth Burgett CEO at Yurbuds are just some of the great speakers slated for next weekends event.

Judy Sindecuse, CEO of locally based Capital Innovators, and even William Crowder from Philly based DreamIt Ventures will represent some of the best accelerators/incubators in the country (and everywhere else) during the event.

For more information or to sign up go here to this link

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