Sunday, May 22, 2011

LEAGUE OF INNOVATORS: Columbia consultant creates entrepreneur "accelerator"

Former Pavilion Furniture building hosts "extraordinary entrepreneurs" 
COLUMBIA, 5/22/11  (Beat Byte) --  Noted venture capitalist and Foundry Group director Brad Feld speaking to a crowd via Skype.   Entrepreneurs touting mobile applications.  A snazzy rethinking of once-defunct, long-vacant building.  A Twitter feed announcing the next "Innovation Bash."  
A "vice president of connectivity."  A "director of awesomeness."   
Silicon Valley?  Silicon Alley?   Not hardly.  This is Columbia, Missouri ca 2011, where a young marketing consultant hopes his take on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- a 2003 movie -- becomes The League of Exceptional Entrepreneurs.  
Housed in the former Putnam's Interiors/Pavilion Furniture building at 3500 Buttonwood Drive (above), Brent Beshore's League of Innovators (LOI) occupies what's now called The Museao (emphasis on the Muse), a 16,000 square ft "business accelerator" (don't call it an "incubator") that offers a "unique working environment to inspire entrepreneurship," League members told the Mizzou Maneater
Instead of monthly rent, interested innovators pay a monthly membership fee for access to work space, meetup space, innovation bashes, and other social activities designed to "foster friendship and entrepreneurship."  
It's a retro approach to the digital age, which relies on Skype, Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, video conferencing, and email for most communications when everyone knows that person-to-person contact still beats all in good old-fashioned networking.
Beshore (above right) -- who founded Pure Marketing in Columbia -- chose an appropos spot to create his "innovation hub."  With audacious curves, glossy coloring, and polished surfaces any Hollywood starlet would envy, the Museao Building looks like it was born to inspire what Beshore calls "innovation sex" (*blush*) on the LOI website.   
Consensual innovation relations aren't restricted to LOI startups, either.  Beshore is encouraging established business people to "relax, learn and get away from the hustle and bustle of their offices," at the Museao, he told the Maneater.

"You can be a student, a freelance worker, a web designer or a lawyer.  It’s really open to anyone who would like to join," added Kelsey Meyer, LOI's "director of awesomeness." 
And that vice president of connectivity we told you about?  It's former Boone County National banker and PS: Gallery owner Chris Stevens, who announced his new position on Facebook last week. 
"There are some great things going on at Pure Marketing and I am excited to be a part," Stevens wrote. 

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