2017: Another Great Year in the Books!

 Kid President creator Brad Montague was one of our featured speakers at our February lunch series, MakeShift. He also inspired us at Our Jackson Home’s A Night of Storytelling at theCOtoberfest.

Kid President creator Brad Montague was one of our featured speakers at our February lunch series, MakeShift. He also inspired us at Our Jackson Home’s A Night of Storytelling at theCOtoberfest.

Every December I write this article reflecting on the moments, milestones, and amazing people that made 2017 a year to remember. From announcing another Best in the West business competition winner to accepting a state-funded grant in which we have been tasked with turning forty-foot motorhomes into rolling innovation labs, it’s been an extremely busy year for theCO.

However, overlooking the mistakes, the loses, and the setbacks for the year would be naive of us as an entrepreneur development center. Some of the greatest achievements and growth can be traced back to times of failure, and that’s perfectly okay! We’ve seen great ideas and potential businesses put on the back burner this year and understand that life gets in the way sometimes. Just know that theCO is here to help. Ask us questions, and tell us about your struggles. We want nothing more than to see you grow personally and help your business grow as well.

For those of you still on the fence about starting a business or taking your idea/hobby to the next level, let us remind you of a few things:

 We’ve acquired quite the crowd at our weekly CO:bots meetup and hosted our first-ever Robotics Summer Camp.

We’ve acquired quite the crowd at our weekly CO:bots meetup and hosted our first-ever Robotics Summer Camp.

  • West Tennessee is an ideal place to start a business. Access to Gigabit Internet by Jackson Energy Authority, low cost of living, and a two-hour drive from major markets like Memphis and Nashville give you plenty of opportunities to start your business endeavor.
  • Don’t get stuck in the past. The economy and marketplace are living entities continually in motion. Do your homework and keep up with your industry no matter how consistent and stable it may feel. Failure to do so might leave you in a financial crisis.
  • Ask for help. Utilize your network in times of confusion and uncertainty. If you don’t have a professional network, join theCO! We promise it will be the best decision you make in 2018.

So what has theCO’s network been up to this year you might ask? Many of our members have shown impressive progress in their businesses, such as opening up their first physical storefront. We’ve also had a team of entrepreneurs win their first retail contract. Seeing the product that you’ve spent endless amounts of late nights tweaking and improving finally on the shelf of a retail outlet is an extremely rewarding feeling. I hope everyone can experience that rush of excitement at least once in their business career. I’ve also seen one of our members win enough contracts to allow his spouse to leave her full-time job and work for the new “family business.”

 Seth Nelson of The Farmer’s Perk Organic Coffee Co. and Cock-a-Doodle Dough won our second Best in the West competition at theCOtoberfest.

Seth Nelson of The Farmer’s Perk Organic Coffee Co. and Cock-a-Doodle Dough won our second Best in the West competition at theCOtoberfest.

2017 has certainly been a year for the youngsters as well. theCO has seen a significant increase in participants for our weekly robotics meetup, CO:bots. Every week, robots of all kinds are taken apart, built, and battled to see who’s master creation will prevail. We even had a teen apply for a grant to pay for her robot. (As a non-profit organization, let us be the first to tell you that winning a grant is not an easy task.) These kids are astonishingly bright, and we’re proud to have them here in West Tennessee.

I could also mention the launch of our MakeShift lunch series, third annual celebration of theCOtoberfest, and continuing workshops and CO.STARTERS classes, along with CO:mobile college visits, initiating new CO:members, and another incredible trip to San Francisco with our outstanding DevCatalyst students. The list goes on and on!

 We were beyond excited to launch the first of our “Driving Innovation” buses created in partnership with the state at the Governor’s Conference. Two more to come in 2018!

We were beyond excited to launch the first of our “Driving Innovation” buses created in partnership with the state at the Governor’s Conference. Two more to come in 2018!

Reflecting on all of these huge wins of 2017, I’d like to thank each and every person who stopped by theCO this past year and allowed us to share the impact our entrepreneurs are making in the community. theCO is truly a one-of-a-kind place where hardworking people shed their cloak of self-doubt, challenge stereotypes, and embark on the journey of starting a business, and for those reasons, I am grateful to be a part of your story.

Be sure to check out our website to read more about the entrepreneurs and makers here at theCO. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with the latest news and events. See ya soon!

Dan Drogosh, Operations Manager