Jim Mckelvey

Founder of Square and Expert in New Technology

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Chances are good you’ve run across a Square device at some point, especially if you’ve recently visited a food truck or similarly mobile small business. The tiny piece of plastic that allows you to swipe credit cards on your smartphone or tablet has been joined by a full iPad docking system, essentially becoming a full cash register (without the cash). The company, co-founded by Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey — also the co-founder of Twitter — has more than 600 employees and is now valued at $6 billion.

While perhaps best known for co-founding Square, one of Silicon Valley’s hottest startups, McKelvey is, in some circles, better known as a master glass artist and author, having written the world’s most widely read text on the subject, The Art Of Fire.

His most famous venture, Square, is changing payments. His latest venture, LaunchCode, is making it possible for anyone to learn programming and land a full-time job in under six months–for free.

A 1987 Washington University Economics and Computer Science graduate, McKelvey will discuss founding successful companies in payments, education, scientific publishing, construction, printing, glassblowing and software. Each business is founded upon a simple idea and run by people committed to it. Jim has never sold any of his companies and as a result now oversees a diverse portfolio of businesses. Referencing personal experiences and local challenges, McKelvey offers a fresh, Silicon Valley-approach to problem solving.

McKelvey is the founder of Third Degree Glass Factory, one of the nation’s main centers of glassblowing arts. McKelvey also founded Mira Digital Publishing, an early digital technology startup, where he gave a young programmer an internship and a place to hone his tech skills. That programmer, Jack Dorsey, went on to create Twitter and partner again with McKelvey in the development of the Square Payments Platform.

Jim is the author of three textbooks, two on computer programming and one on glassblowing. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis and lectures internationally on art and entrepreneurship.

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