In April 2013, Ed Domain and I began discussions around putting together a thought leadership conference on startups and entrepreneurism. Soon thereafter, Ed was in a life-threatening auto accident and we tabled our discussions until he regained his health.
In December 2013, with Ed recovering we resumed discussions, and in January 2014, finalized our vision for Startup Voodoo. At the time we knew two things: 1) We wanted to host a great event that would help further the tremendous upward momentum of the startup ecosystem in St. Louis, and 2) We wanted to host it at Ballpark Village, what we believed to be the crown jewel of downtown St. Louis’ renaissance.
So we looked at the calendar, talked to thought leaders nationally who we knew we would like to speak and participate, and at that time – in January – we chose a date in September that would give us enough time to put on a leading edge event.
What we did not realize at the time, and would not until about two months ago when it was brought to our attention, was that the event is scheduled for Rosh Hashanah, one of the two most holy of days on the Jewish calendar. And by the time we realized the scheduling conflict, we were at the mercy of the very busy schedules of more than a dozen speakers and panelists scheduled to attend, and it was the first year of the event we were operating on razor thin budgets.
Ed and I discussed it at length and ultimately chose to stay the course, understanding some very key issues.
First, I am Jewish. And once I realized the scheduling conflict, I was deeply conflicted and regretful of the oversight on a very personal level. Just as important is the issue of broader community inclusion. Interest in the burgeoning movement around startups and entrepreneurism – from St. Louis to Silicon Valley – is comprised of people of all races, genders, and religions. And holding our event on Rosh Hashanah excludes members of the Jewish community in and around St. Louis from an important regional growth opportunity merely because of their religious identity.
Thus, with deep regret, Ed and I can only offer our sincerest apologies. We are sorry for holding this event – which we are only putting on to help further this region’s startup ecosystem strength – on such a holy day.
Most of all, I am sorry for being insensitive to my own people, and I can assure you that such a scheduling oversight will not happen again.