start-ups

Venture Tenure

Remember our post about universities as incubators? A new non-profit is leveraging the products of those incubators, namely their graduates, for the purpose of job creation and creative activity in cities that struggle to attract new talent. Venture for America finds 50 Fellows, each of which a recent graduate with unusually high motivation and experience, and inserts them into smaller start ups in cities like Detroit, New Orleans, or Providence, Rhode Island. The program is meant to increase these cities’ access to talent in an effort to create new jobs and spur renewed economic activity in some of America’s most down-and-out cities.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK2hOUDxMPY&w=400&h=301]

Fellows don’t necessarily have experience in entrepreneurship, but each of them already appears entrepreneurial. The question is whether these young graduates can maintain their bright-eyed visions and idealistic energy for two years in cities where few others like them live and with a salary half of what they could be making elsewhere ($32-38K per year).

Venture for America’s goal is to create 100,000 new jobs by 2025. It’s a tall order for 50 Fellows, but if the program is successful, there will be others to take on the task, and increasingly friendly economic environments in their cities of focus. Keep an eye on this one.

-          Terra Curtis

Shared Work Spaces

It used to be the norm to spend the hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at your company’s office.  It also used to be the norm that you’d spend years of your life doing the same thing, day in and day out, all at the same place. Not true anymore.  In cities across the world, members of the so-called creative class have left the paradigm.  Many of these entrepreneurial, free-spirited, and perhaps more motivated people can now be found tapping out their latest business plans in corner cafés and coffee shops.  Believe it or not, many of today’s most popular mobile apps, Facebook games, and tech innovations either start or are entirely created over a cup of local coffeehouse java, indie music blaring over the speakers in the background.

But even the café crowd is behind the times now.  Shared work spaces have started to catch on.  They combine the traditional office setting with a coffeehouse feel.  Some even offer free lunches (a must-have for early-age start-ups).

The concept is simple: tech entrepreneurs (and there are many) need a place to work that is somewhat professional (perhaps they’re interviewing or conducting meetings with VCs) but also an environment that feels a little like working from home or your friend’s spare basement room.  Combine those needs with a desire for collaboration and you’ve got a co-working space.  Some offer start-ups their own desk or cubicle, some offer space with desks to be used first-come, first-served.  All charge a low-commitment monthly fee.

Is there one in your City?  Here’s a short list I’ve found so far: