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VOL. 129 | NO. 43 | Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Startup Space

Cowork Memphis developing entrepreneurial resource, educational hub

By Andy Meek

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The new Cowork Memphis venture in Cooper-Young has quickly developed into a resource and educational hub for freelancers and other busy professionals, helped in part by participation from entrepreneurs like Michael Nunn.

Katie Maxwell, Cowork Memphis director of community development, at the organization’s space in Cooper-Young. Cowork Memphis serves as an educational hub and entrepreneurial resource. 

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Nunn, president of S2N Design, was the most recent entrepreneur to speak as part of the Startup Grind event series, an international initiative that involves business leaders, founders and innovators sharing their stories and lessons learned on the way to building companies.

Having the local version of those events take place in the Cowork Memphis space is part of a broad range of services that Cowork Memphis director of community relations Katie Maxwell said the organization wants to offer.

“Everybody I talked to, everybody I talked to afterwards, they’re either in a business, starting a business, freelancing or they’re ready to take that next move, and it was cool to see how engaged and excited all the people were,” said Nunn, who started his company in 2008.

S2N is a full-service Web design and development company that also handles creative branding and integrated marketing. It’s in growth mode, preparing to hire its seventh employee.

Nunn’s presentation as part of the Startup Grind series reflected the educational component of Cowork, which also tries to fill resource needs as well. The venture offers a collaborative workspace environment, as well as a way for people to connect with other like-minded professionals and grow their business network.

Maxwell said Cowork sells several tiered levels of memberships. Depending on the membership, a professional can get access to Wi-Fi, educational classes and events, workspace, shared office equipment and “all the coffee and bottled water you can drink.”

“Cowork really helps small businesses and entrepreneurs not overextend themselves and still have that collaborative piece to their lives,” Nunn said. “Because if they get stuck in a room – and I’ve been there and done that – it’s really hard to think outside the box. It starts to become like writer’s block, if you will. It’s nice to be able to feel like you own an office. You can talk to people in the same or similar situations or on different plateaus than you might be. It’s a fantastic thing for Memphis, and it shows we’re becoming extremely progressive. I was very amazed by the age range of the people in there.”

Freelance blogger and online marketing consultant Mary Thompson is among those making use of Cowork Memphis' shared workspace and resources.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

The next Startup Grind speaker is Jay Martin, founder of NSA, the maker of Juice Plus. Entrepreneurs will hear from Martin on March 27.

Muddy’s Bake Shop founder Kat Gordon was the first Startup Grind speaker last month.

“I can’t wait to listen to other entrepreneurs at future sessions,” Gordon said. “(It’s) a fantastic opportunity to learn from others’ experiences and make new ‘business best friends.’ The conversations with other attendees are just as enlightening as the interview itself.”

Meanwhile, Cowork also is preparing to launch another program, this time partnering with the international entity called House of Genius.

The way Maxwell describes it is as a “night of disruptive thinking” that includes three presenters for three hours. An issue or problem will be presented at the start of a brainstorming session. It’s an “anonymous format that may include entrepreneurs, executives, academics, artists and students who provide insight, ideas and connections in a rapid fire format.”

That event happens March 18, and dates in April and May are being planned as well.

“I am very pleased with our first two Startup Grind events,” Maxwell said. “Both speakers did a great job of sharing their startup story. This event appeals to so many, not just business owners. A lot can be learned and shared. I look forward to growing this event and adding more dynamic speakers to the lineup.”

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