As owner of co-working space Originate at The eFactory, Jeremy Adams sits at the forefront of Springfield’s entrepreneurial movement.
2016 Projection Co-working spaces will continue to transform and enrich the entrepreneurial community.
SBJ: How do you see Springfield’s startup scene faring in 2016?
Jeremy Adams: It’s going to continue to climb rapidly, which is what we’ve seen over the last year to two years as things have been set in place to allow the startup community to test things out without as much risk. More and more people are going to take the leap from traditional hourly/salary jobs into doing something for themselves. Over the last year and a half, basically, with Originate and The eFactory and some of the events that have been happening, we’ve just seen a huge spike. The last two years have just been crazy. Maybe it was out there all along, but now we’re consolidated here at The eFactory.
SBJ: What is driving entrepreneurial growth?
Adams: We’ve got these places popping up where you can have the support that you need to get your business started. With that comes events. It’s other entrepreneurs talking about their successes and their failures and their trials and how they’ve overcome those. As other people who have ideas or have a desire to start something hear those stories, it motivates them to get started themselves. We need events, we need resources, as in funding. All of those things are starting to click into place. Springfield is one of the easiest places to do that. We have the easiest access to resources. It’s an inexpensive place to live, an inexpensive place to start your business.
SBJ: Is funding for startups growing?
Adams: There’s a spark. It’s not really growing yet, but there are things that are starting to fall into place to make that available. We have funding available outside the area and as we build relationships with different communities, it gets others – the startups in the building – access to that funding. The eFactory has their own fund, their accelerator fund. With successes inside of that, we’ll see other funding opportunities become available.
SBJ: Are investors becoming more prevalent?
Adams: We have people now who are testing the waters. They’re interested in, typically in this area, things like real estate, manufacturing. Those kinds of things have been a little safer investment. I see investors from other communities who have visited, so they’re interested in what is happening here. We have 1 Million Cups. We have The eFactory speaker series that’s available to people outside. At Originate, we have an event once a month called Idea Wakeup. That is bringing in stories from businesses outside the community that people might be interested in.
SBJ: What are the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs in 2016?
Adams: Money is an issue, but also being able to test your ideas without overextending yourself or putting yourself at greater risk by signing long-term contracts – that’s not a problem here.
SBJ: The post-millennial generation reportedly has an increasingly entrepreneurial mindset. Have you seen that trend?
Adams: We’re seeing it every day here. Another great thing about this building is the mix of students. We’ve got high school students with the (Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Professional Studies) program. We’ve got the engineering students with (Missouri State University) and (Missouri University of Science and Technology). We’ve got some young entrepreneurs here. That range is pretty wide when it comes to the startups here. So it’s not just young startups.
Then we have the relationships with the more experienced business owners connected with The eFactory. With the GO CAPS program, we’ll see some high school students who have sometimes better ideas than the older people. There were a few students who got in early with the GO CAPS program, and they’ll share those stories with other students. They’re saying that they’ve learned more in this building than they have in some of their classes in school. It’s fun to try to start these things and working alongside other businesses and startups. That’s a great experience for them.
SBJ: How’s Originate doing? What’s your occupancy?
Adams: We have three spaces here in the building. We started across the hall back in June of last year. When we moved in here, we had one member and our team. Since then, we’ve had to cut a hole in the wall to add another eight desks in the second room. A few months ago, we outgrew those spaces and had to expand over here. Within the last couple of weeks, it’s been tremendous growth. We have a few desks left. We probably could handle about 50 to 60 members. We’ve got some options for a second location. I expect it probably will have to happen. We’ve got some ideas to maybe reduce our size here and expand to another building downtown. Then, we’re looking at some other communities – still have quite a bit of research to do on that.
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