Networking: Tim Rowe of the Cambridge Innovation Center

Tim Rowe has been hosting startups at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square for 15 years.  Photo: Michele McDonald for the Boston Globe
Tim Rowe has been hosting startups at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Kendall Square for 15 years. Photo: Michele McDonald for the Boston Globe

Tim Rowe was surrounded.

It was a Thursday evening, and by 6:15 a crowd had already gathered on the fifth floor of the Cambridge Innovation Center, the shared office space that has hosted over 2,200 startups, including Android and Hubspot. Rowe founded CIC 15 years ago, and he continues to map out his vision for Kendall Square there.

This night, like all Thursdays, was the Venture Café, a meet-and-greet where newly minted CEOs mingle with mentors.

Rowe spotted a newcomer in the crowd and paused to walk her through the sign-in process: Enter your name, plug in your e-mail, and then tap your MBTA card on the scanner. “The next time you’re here, you can just tap your pass,” Rowe explained, as a machine spit out a nametag.

If he seemed overly assured there would be a next time, it’s probably because so many CIC visitors come back repeatedly. A number printed on each tag indicates how many visits a guest has made to the café. Rowe’s tag said 129. “There are people with higher numbers than me,” he said with a shrug as he wove through the crowd. “They like to think of themselves as the Elders.”

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Janelle Nanos can be reached at janelle.nanos@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.
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