When we opened our doors three and a half years ago, we set out to accomplish few things…
- To build a community of cool, open minded people who were looking to do their daily, independent work alongside others with different perspectives and talents.
- To be an example for how collaboration can truly make things better – from the work we do, to the events we host, and the space we share.
- To support entrepreneurs and their big ideas.
About a year into this coworking journey, we launched a program called startup bootcamp, which was really focused on achieving goal three. But more importantly, bootcamp was the answer to a problem we quickly discovered after our coworking space opened and we actually got to work alongside some of the entrepreneurs we set out to help.
The problem sounds a little bit like this:
- I have a business idea, but don’t know where to start or who to talk to.
- I don’t know where to begin when it comes to marketing? I think I need a website…
- I feel excited, overwhelmed and alone all at the same.
(Looking back on it now, I think this was what they refer to as a lightbulb moment – that moment of clarity when you realize how you can give back to the world and solve a real problem for the people you care about.)
In a nutshell, startup bootcamp is a hands-on, collaborative marketing workshop. But it’s so much more than that. It helps business owners understand how closely integrated business and marketing really are. It helps them understand that they aren’t in it alone; that as entrepreneurs, we’re all struggling with a lot of the same things. Lastly, it helps them begin to understand this thing called a brand. That it’s so much bigger than a website, a logo or Facebook ad. And at the core of a brand, is a real person with real passion to make a difference.
We dig into all of these things together. Remember what we said about collaboration? There’s a magic that happens when we get three or four companies in the same room – who are willing to let their guard down and just air out all of the highs and lows of their business. Without fail, startup bootcamp leads to some of the most creative and meaningful marketing. And, usually some really cool business collaborations and friendships.
By the end of 2018, we’ll have had 47 companies of all different ages and sizes go through startup bootcamp. Some came with just an idea, some came to reinvent their existing business, some with a new product to introduce, some just needed to re-energize their marketing – but all of them have an inspiring personal mission that fuels the important work they’re doing.
We recently hit the road and traveled all across West Central Minnesota to visit some of our alumni and find out what is new and what has happened since they attended bootcamp. Although we couldn’t make it to them all, this video includes a good sample of the incredible entrepreneurs that make up our area’s startup scene. We can’t wait to share more of their stories in the coming months!