From Inside Business
Because of its assemblage of creative assets, the planned Assembly building in downtown Norfolk is on its way to becoming a regional innovation and entrepreneurial hub.
757 Startup Studios signed on as a tenant in the 100,000-square-foot four-story office campus expected to open at 400 Granby St. in the fall of 2020.
Local angel investor group 757 Angels and regional startup growing program 757 Accelerate are joining forces to create the studios to remove an obstacle for many startups and early stage companies.
“One of those barriers can be high rent,” 757 Angels Executive Director Monique Adams said.
Unlike most coworking spaces, 757 Startup Studios will be a fully subsidized space to help new businesses get off the ground, Adams said.
757 Angels and 757 Accelerate will also maintain offices in the same area of Assembly, which will enable them to consolidate their efforts and take entrepreneurship in Hampton Roads to the next level. The groups received funding from Ferguson, TowneBank and the city of Norfolk to cover three years for the space.
757 Startup Studios’ open space will accommodate up to 35 entrepreneurs. In addition to offices for 757 Angels and 757 Accelerate, there is room for a third resource.
“It’s meant to create a very interconnected space so that startups can move faster, so the collisions and the access to the networks will all be magnified,” she said.
Fifteen seats will go to acceleration companies and the other 20 spots will be filled through an open application process for qualifying entrepreneurs.
A community manager will run a selection process to choose companies for a six-month tenancy. Companies that meet certain milestones can stay another six months.
“The idea is up-and-out programming so that we’re not actually looking to compete with coworking. We hope to create companies that can become coworking tenants,” Adams said, pointing out companies can stay at Assembly, go to Tech Center, 1701, Gather or other regional coworking spaces. “We’re looking to partner with existing innovation centers throughout the region to stream our programming so that we can be a good regional partner.”
Drew Ungvarsky, founder of Assembly and Grow, a digital creative agency in Norfolk, said the entrepreneurs and startups in 757 Startup Studios will have access to all of Assembly’s amenities, which include a rooftop event space, conference room, library, kitchen, mail and game rooms.
Often, companies must sacrifice the additional amenities because of space or affordability, Ungvarsky said.
Stressing the importance for 757 Angels to be a connected resource and not an isolated one, Adams said they always wanted to be a part of a vibrant regional front door to Hampton Roads’ entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Adams said after conversations with Ungvarsky, they saw that their visions and ethos were in alignment to create a community of innovators and creators.
“It’s a great opportunity for the startup ecosystem and a great match for Assembly,” Ungvarsky said. “My vision all along with Assembly was that it was for companies across the spectrum — startup companies to established companies.”
In addition to Grow, initial tenants include Work Program Architects, Sway and Flagship Visuals Co. Two retail spaces are also open for leasing.
By Sandra Pennecke
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