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VISION 2017 was held on the St. Louis Community College - Florissant Valley campus. 


Sign Language Interpreting Services was provided for Opening and Keynote sessions as indicated below.

State of Entrepreneurship: A Historic Look Back

After a welcome from the planning committee, be inspired by a multi-media presentation of the greatest entrepreneurs across races, genders and backgrounds. You will leave energized to bring your whole self to your entrepreneurial endeavors! The Moderator is Dr. Terry Jones, featuring Maxine Clark, Nicole Adewale, Bijal Desai-Ramirez, Jose Ponce, and Lorenzo Liana.



Coachability Matters: The Power of Personal Growth

Join us with Aimee Dunne of Brazen for a candid conversation about the importance of personal and professional development in starting and growing one's business, tools to help you become your best self and advice for those who have been in your shoes.

Marketing for the Moolah: Learn How to Leverage Market Validation to Build Your Business

You have a brilliant idea for a company or product, but how do you know if anyone will pay for it? This session with Alice Layton, founder and creator of Rupununi Learners, will give you easy to implement tools for identifying the market you are trying to serve, assessing gaps that exist for business opportunity, and tailoring your marketing strategies for making maximum profit.

Dr. Lonnie Johnson

Former Air Force and NASA engineer, entrepreneur and inventor of the Super Soaker water gun, ranked among the world’s bestselling toys


Bioscience Sessions

Bioscience innovation is all around us: from the toothpaste we use to brush our teeth, to the medical equipment used to diagnose an ear infection, and plant breeding technology that ensures our summer fruites are fresh. Did you know St. Louis is a world leader in a number of bioscience fields? This track will equip participants with the knowledge and skills to build (or grow) your own science-related business, regardless of your background.

The Future is Tech-Based: Trends in IT and Science Start-Ups — 1:15pm

This session features content experts sharing their projections for what will be hot in IT and bioscience fields in the future so you know where to plug in. Hear about how health IT, artificial intelligence, "internet of things" and cyber security are impacting our regional economy. This session is presented in combination with the bioscience track. The Moderator is Chuck Vallurupalli, featuring Jeremy Porter and Gary Stiehr.

Choose Your Own Entrepreneurship Adventure: Buying v. Building a Science Company — 2:15pm

Being an entrepreneur doesn't just mean starting a company from scratch-you can also acquire and grow existing companies. This session will feature individuals who have started science companies sharing their experiences, as well as an overview of the nuances of acquiring a science-focused business. The Moderator is Cheryl Watkins-Moore, featuring Eric Bailey, Rachel Simon-Lee, Dave Spence, Marvin Steele, and Chuck Stout. 

Where Do Good (Science) Business Ideas Come From?: Finding Your Inner Science Entrepreneur — 3:15pm

You don't need to be a PhD level biochemist to start a science-related company! During this interactive workshop, participants will learn the process of ideation to pull ideas for the next hot technology from the everyday world around them. Facilitated by Christy Maxfield.

Information Technology Sessions

From technology that keeps your financial information safe at your local bank, to cyber security innovations, St. Louis has a wealth of opportunity in IT-related technology. This track will equip participants with the knowledge and skills to build (or grow) your own IT-based business.

Non-Technical Founder's Success...What You Need to Know to Run a Successful Tech Company — 2:15pm

Leaders of IT companies come from many different backgrounds - healthcare, legal and marketing, just to name a few. This session will discuss important business issues owners need to understand, management strategies to deploy, and local resources to access to build a successful tech company. The Moderator is Chuck Vallurupalli, featuring Kaustuv Mukherjee and Sarah Badahman.

Choose the Product Development Path that Works Best for You: The Pro's and Con's of Hiring a Team vs. Outsourcing Product Development — 3:15pm

There is more than one way to successfully build IT companies. This session will feature entrepreneurs who have managed their own, in-house product development teams, and ones who have outsourced their development. They will share lesson learned, key considerations and answers all your questions.​ The Moderator is Chuck Vallurupalli, featuring Amit Kothari and Brian Sapot.

Manufacturing Sessions

Manufacturing has long been a cornerstone of St. Louis industry. These days, the production of artisan

food, cutting-edge fashion and unique beauty products is driving much of the local manufacturing scene. This track will equip participants with the knowledge and skills to build (or grow) your own business in these and other manufacturing sectors.


"Show Me" What's Made in Missouri — 1:15pm

This panel features local manufactures sharing their experience developing new product ideas and building a related business. Panelists will also provide their perspectives on all St. Louis has to offer for building or growing a manufacturing business. The Moderator is Marc Bowers, featuring Cathy Gallaher and Jason Jan

Entrepreneur Roundtables: Getting the Real Story about Manufacturing Entrepreneurship — 2:15pm

During this session, local entrepreneurs who have built or grown a manufacturing businesses will be available for small group conversations about getting started, achieving success and overcoming potential barriers. Pull a seat up to the table. Come with your questions, or simply an open ear to learn from those who are living the experience! The Roundtable Hosts are Cedric Cobb, Kara Gatto, Freddie Lee James Jr., Deborah James, Tai Lin, Julie Longyear, Ron Story, Randy Vines, and Angela Zeng.


Don't Go It Alone: Meet Local Manufacturing Resources — 3:15pm

The St. Louis region is filled with organizations that will help you take your product from idea to reality. This session will feature representatives of entrepreneur support organizations that can provide advice, mentoring and other technical assistance on topics ranging from idea review to business planning and prototyping. The session will end with a tour of the St. Louis Community College's manufacturing facility. The Moderator is Marc Bowers, featuring Bob Gatesh,
Phillip Sangokoya, Aziz Traore, Lynette Watson, and Alyce Wilson.


St. Louis is home to hundreds of company founders from all backgrounds who have experienced the realities of starting or growing a new venture. Attendees and participants of VISION 2017 are invited to network with a host of alumni from local entrepreneurship training programs, boot camp participants and networking organization members to learn from fellow founders and make connections to grow their business. "Ecosystem navigators" will also be on hand during this session to help VISION participants make individualized plans for next steps they can take to move their company ideas forward.

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