Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016
A new co-working space for Virginia Commonwealth University student entrepreneurs is now open in University Student Commons.
The 656-square-foot space, called Founder’s Corner, is open to all undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs at VCU, regardless of major, though participants must apply and go through an interview process to gain access.
“Co-working spaces allow for individuals to benefit from working in the presence of other like-minded people,” said Dominic Costanzo, program manager with VCU Innovation Gateway, which works to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at VCU. “In the case of Founder’s Corner, it’s about the collaboration between student entrepreneurs that will help to foster creativity and innovation, as well as cultivate the community of entrepreneurs at VCU.”
Founder’s Corner was developed as a collaboration between VCU Innovation Gateway, VCU Career Services and University Student Commons and Activities. It is part of Venture Creation University, which is a VCU-wide initiative to enhance the culture of entrepreneurship at VCU and to provide pathways to all students interested in launching their own companies and innovations.
“When Innovation Gateway, VCU Career Services and University Commons and Student Activities got together to dream up a space, we wanted to create a place where student ventures could grow with support of our resources in a creative space, central and open to anyone with a startup idea working towards expansion,” said Carrie Hawes, assistant director, employer and experiential development, VCU Career Services.
The first students to use the space are all taking part in VCU’s pre-accelerator program, which helps student entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground.
Nine student-founded startups are taking part in the program this spring, including a company that sells locally grown gourmet mushrooms, one that offers new and lightly used sneakers, one that is developing maternity clothing that protects against electromagnetic radiation and one that aims to offer ride-sharing services targeted at college students.
“It gives student entrepreneurs an exclusive place to call their own,” Costanzo said. “They can almost think of it as their temporary office while they are in school.”
It gives student entrepreneurs an exclusive place to call their own.
Later this spring, applications will open to the rest of the VCU student community.
“The ability for all students to collaborate in one space only adds to the ability to be creative and innovative,” Hawes said. “Having all majors and class years should add an element of surprise to the process. Having a special space on campus is great, but the additional support our offices will provide with programming, mentorship, resource referrals, etc., should only help these students be even more successful.”
The space is highly modular, allowing students to rearrange the furnishings to fit their needs. It will also be locked at all times, allowing only admitted students into the space with a key-card swipe.
“Personally, I think the ability to constantly shift the room to meet every student’s need is great,” Hawes said. “Whether they are co-working, presenting to partners or working silently by themselves, the space is dynamic enough to meet their needs. And having three dry-erase walls is always fun.”
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