Great Places For Starting Something New
Story Louisville’s (l) founder, Natalia Bishop, and (r) director of operations, Lauren VanCleave are helping people start and grow businesses.
If there is anything positive about a global pandemic that has kept us isolated, unemployed, and/or trapped at home, it is that it helped us to quiet our minds enough to rediscover our creative selves. I have heard that divorces and pregnancies have increased since COVID-19, but I also bet many businesses will be birthed after this process. After all, what generally follows a plague? Renaissance. Seeds of ideas have had time to grow, and the experience helps us to rethink our priorities. If the pandemic has planted the entrepreneurial spirit in you, check out these organizations to help turn your budding idea into a sustainable reality.
In 2016, Natalia Bishop, a Colombian immigrant, was a photographer renting a shared arts studio. Each day she would brainstorm solutions to problems she was facing with other artists in the collective. Soon, the 1,500-square-foot arts space became a hub for artists, freelancers, and other makers to pitch ideas, problem-solve, and network. These creatives helped her to soon realize that holes in her ideas were best filled by a community. If she were ever to get a large project off the ground, she would need a team to do some of the lifting.
This communal hub may not have manifested into a bustling career in photography, but it did give birth to Story Louisville, a network of shared spaces and resources that helps startups take flight. Story began on Story Avenue in Butchertown and offered a shared work space for entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, movers, and shakers to get work done together. By bringing together a diverse group of motivated thinkers, the small startups could share resources and experiences, coffee, and expertise.
Story Louisville’s (l) founder, Natalia Bishop, and (r) director of operations, Lauren VanCleave.
“When you are an entrepreneur, you are forced to work on and for your business at the same time. It is exhausting, and it is lonely,” said Lauren VanCleave, director of operations at Story. “You are constantly learning things the hard way. At Story, we provide a lab where we all work together to provide resources to marketers, finance experts, grant writers, and other key players in the business ecosystem. We ask, ‘What do you need?’ We help you develop your pitch, sharpen your ideas, and help find funding.
“Our goal is for you to outgrow us. We help you figure out how to get from an idea to a business plan through organic run-ins with people in the industry, and we help people get prepared for when they meet these people,” Lauren said.
Story has now grown to a 12,000-square-foot shared work space, event space, conference area, classrooms, a wellness room for meditation, and a podcast studio above a coffee shop on Market Street in NULU. This year, they are also opening an additional space in the Germantown Mill Lofts complex off Goss Avenue. Lauren contributes their success to Natalia.
“I met Natalia by accident when I was working for another company and very pregnant. I said, ‘I’ll quit my job and come work for you.’ She just said, ‘yeah, come on!’ “Natalia’s biggest strength is that she knows how to ask for help. People want to work with her because she isn’t afraid to ask questions. She’s not egocentric and knows what she doesn’t know. She’s really good at asking questions and finding out the answers.”
Story is also dedicated to launching more black- and brown-owned businesses in Louisville and helping our diverse neighborhoods come together to manifest the seeds of ideas into sustainable ventures.
“Although our campus is part of a large network, we understand the difficulty of the entrepreneurial world,” says Mike Chappell, who heads the Purdue Research Park.
PURDUE RESEARCH PARK
Along the I-265 corridor sits 44 acres of beautiful land in New Albany, Indiana, that just might provide the resources some need to have their business take root. The Purdue Research Park is one of five business incubators funded by The Purdue Research Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps to advance the mission of Purdue University.
Mike Chappell heads the Purdue Research Park and says the New Albany campus is special because it is not only a serene environment to work in every day — featuring several walking trails, ponds, and wooded areas — but it also provides a shared work environment to promote networking.
Purdue Research Park.
Membership to the Purdue Research Park provides access to all five of the Park’s locations and amenities, including The Purdue Foundry, a free service on the Lafayette campus that provides mentorship programs. The campus also hosts networking events, provides 24/7 access to a brick-and-mortar office space with all the necessary equipment, receptionists, meeting spaces, and shared workrooms. The five locations also provide in-house access to HR, marketing, and IT departments. In addition, the campus hosts The Purdue Technology Center, and Purdue Polytechnic New Albany also resides on the campus, which is “an excellent talent pool to pull from,” Mike says.
“Although our campus is part of a large network, we understand the difficulty of the entrepreneurial world,” Mike says. “We try to give personal, friendly service to each and every person in the building. Success of the business is paramount here — we are all about business — but we make it a nice place to come to work by providing food trucks and events to break up the day.”