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Cool Coworking Space Spotlight

Startup Virginia nurtures innovators in a coworking-based incubator


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Startup Virginia is a beacon for innovators and visionaries in Central Virginia. The  non-profit , established in 2016 with the support of founding partner Capital One, has become a crucial hub where entrepreneurs can learn, collaborate, and grow. 

Through the insights provided by Morgan Evans, SVA's Marketing and Program Manager, we got a deeper understanding of how the organization fosters economic development and how a coworking model supports the regional ecosystem.

A thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem takes shape

startupva-proofs-526_Morgan_8x10Startup Virginia’s mission is centered around nurturing high-growth startups that are set to make significant impacts within the community and beyond. The organization’s commitment to being a community resource for all Virginians underscores its role in enhancing the local innovation ecosystem. 

"Our aim is to not only help startups grow but to build a thriving, supportive community that extends beyond our walls," Evans explained, highlighting the organization’s broader goals.

The Idea Factory kicks off the entrepreneurial process

On the forefront of Startup Virginia's efforts to nurture new ventures is the Idea Factory, a unique program specifically designed to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit from the very outset. This initiative represents the starting point for many would-be entrepreneurs, helping them transform fledgling ideas into tested, viable business ideas.

"The Idea Factory is really that starting point where people are validating their business idea. Is this even a  viable business idea?" Evans shared. This program is about more than just assessing viability; it's about instilling a foundational understanding of what it takes to launch a successful startup. This low-risk setting is crucial for fostering creativity and innovation, allowing participants to iterate and refine their concepts with direct feedback from experienced mentors and peers. 

For those whose ideas prove viable, the transition from the Idea Factory to Startup Virginia’s incubator is a natural progression. Here, the nascent businesses begin to take shape, moving from concept to early development stages under the guidance of SVA’s comprehensive support system. "And then from that point, they come in and spend a substantial amount of time really building out their business model, and then creating a product," Evans described the journey.

Engaging the community with dynamic programming

Startup Virginia recognizes the importance of engagement in building a strong entrepreneurial community. Evans detailed a variety of events designed to facilitate networking and collaborative opportunities among members. 

“We host a variety of community events, from happy hours to breakfast clubs, catering to a busy entrepreneur lifestyle,” she noted. These events serve as strategic platforms for entrepreneurs to connect, share ideas, and forge partnerships that drive their businesses forward.

Coworking fosters collaboration in a flexible office environment

Startup Virginia’s coworking space is vital to its mission, offering a flexible office environment where entrepreneurs share ideas and resources. These spaces accommodate various needs, featuring everything from open desks for solo ventures to collaborative areas for growing startups. And SVA uses Coworks to manage the space and its members

"Our building has an open workspace, offices, and meeting rooms. Offices are rented out to startups on a month to month basis — which is nice because, with startups, you never know what’s going to happen. So there’s no long, expensive commitment," described Evans. 

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The coworking environment at Startup Virginia not only meets practical needs but also nurtures the community through regular social events like happy hours and breakfast clubs. These gatherings encourage members to interact beyond work-related tasks, fostering professional collaborations and friendships.

The kitchen and coffee areas become hubs of spontaneous conversation and networking, with Evans noted, "That’s the biggest hotspot where people are grabbing coffee and talking all the time, which is pretty awesome."

 

Driving regional economic development with help from corporate partners

A key element of SVA’s success is its robust corporate partnership program. Partners like Meta and Capital One not only provide financial support; they actively participate in the incubator’s programs — offering workshops, mentorship, and expert guidance for the community at large. “Our corporate partners see the tangible impact their involvement has on the growth of these startups,” said Evans. These partnerships enrich the resources available to entrepreneurs, enhancing their ability to innovate and scale.

The local economic impact of Startup Virginia is truly profound. By fostering startups, SVA not only catalyzes innovation but also contributes to job creation and attracts business to the area, thereby strengthening the immediate region’s economy. This role in economic development is a core part of SVA’s mission, and a key benefit to the coworking format itself — emphasizing its commitment to enriching the local ecosystem through entrepreneurship.

Through its comprehensive support and dynamic community engagement, Startup Virginia embodies the spirit of innovation that is crucial to fostering economic growth and regional development. As it continues to support passionate entrepreneurs, its impact is sure to expand, promising a brighter future for Central Virginia and beyond.

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