As a college student pretty much everyone I engage in small talk with asks me what I’m doing for the summer. I’m always happy to answer, “Working at theCO, a new thing that helps small businesses, but also allows entrepreneurs to rent space and has several really cool tools for designing new products.” My explanation usually results in a confused, “Oh ok. That’s cool”. The combination of my poor explanation and an unheard of idea in West Tennessee provokes confusion. So what do we actually do? The best way to explain it is to think of it as three different businesses in one. The first aspect of theCO is to be an accelerator or incubator for small businesses in West Tennessee. This means that anyone who walks into the building will be vetted, and have their idea heard by a group of men and women who have experience starting their own businesses. In addition to listening, theCO has deep roots in the community and will help entrepreneurs find manufacturers, web developers, and experts in their field. Beyond that, all entrepreneurs will be connected with a mentor who will guide them in developing businesses plans and pitches, when it comes time to find capital.
The second aspect is a coworking space. Coworking is a new concept that has come about because of the Internet and the ability to connect with people across the globe over video messaging. In 2005 coworking became popular in San Francisco, and since 2011 it has been growing rapidly. The principle idea behind coworking is that small business owners, developers, photographers, artists, web designers, corporate refugees, freelancers, and other creative thinkers can bring their laptops to a place that is designed to enhance productivity and cultivate new ideas. Picture this: as a small business owner you are looking to design a new company logo, but don’t know where to start. Well, if you are working from home, you will have to Google it and get a bunch of ads that don’t do you any good. If you are at theCO, though, you can just ask you neighbor who could be a web designer and an expert in the field. This collaborative thinking and distraction free work environment is what coworking spaces, including ours, strive for. (Check out the video to the left for a further explanation on coworking and the future.)
The final and most eye-popping aspect of theCO is the makerspace. Put your garage on steroids, add technology to it, and this is the makerspace. In the makerspace we will have a 3D printer (see the blog below to read more on it), a laser etcher, a CNC machine, an electronics lab, several saws, and tables to build on. The goal of the makerspace is to get engineers and product designers into the space to invent new products, and learn about the latest and greatest technology in manufacturing. For entrepreneurs looking to invent the next big consumer product, this is the perfect place to prototype without having to pay thousands of dollars to a manufacturer. Check out the laser etcher video and the CNC video to see what exactly is coming to theCO. Hopefully this gives a good overview of what we are about. Our vision is to make theCO an incubator for learners and new businesses. Help us help you succeed and come by theCO soon.