We’re thrilled to welcome Ketchum Innovation Center in Idaho’s Sun Valley to the Proximity Network! We recently heard from communications director, Emmi Buck, about how their coworking space and its members are thriving together in this beautiful mountain town.
When did you open your coworking space and what enticed you to do so?
For three years, Ketchum Innovation Center has been serving the Wood River Valley with educational programming, hands-on networking connections, coworking space, and pretty much anything else entrepreneurs and existing businesses need! The most current “version” is being called KIC 3.0, and recently [relocated] into its new office and community coworking and programming space in September/October 2018. KIC’s inception was inspired by the need to serve local entrepreneurs and small businesses to help diversify and strengthen the economy as well as simply provide desperately needed resources for them, filling a major void in our small mountain town.
Tell us about your space. How big is it? What kinds of amenities do you have? What sort of quirks make it special?
Our space is broken up into a handful of areas that all have huge naturally-lit windows, many of them looking out at our beloved Mt. Baldy. We have a large community room that holds about 60 people that is open to the public Monday-Friday for free use of our guest WiFi, tall ceilings, and a roomy, inviting atmosphere with plenty of seating to work or hold meetings. This is also the room used for free, educational events with topics ranging from calculating start-up costs, how to create a website, or even public speaking tips. We also have two conference rooms with everything you need to conduct a meeting, ranging from VoIP phones, large screens for presentations or screen sharing, whiteboards, and of course, our signature brightly-sun-lit windows! Our resident entrepreneurs have a special room to themselves with dedicated desks, access to our high-speed private Cox fiber internet, and two meeting rooms dedicated to their use. Resident entrepreneurs also get access to our free coffee, tea, and use of our kitchen. Our space is unique because it sits right at the base of Mt. Baldy, gets amazing views and sunshine (we are, after all, in the SUN Valley area!), and most importantly has a very warm and welcome feel unlike any office or tech start-up space you’ve been in. Did we mention that we have two lovely outdoor deck areas, one even has an awesome fire pit!
What is your favorite thing about operating a coworking space?
The Executive Director, Christy Anna Gerber and I are most excited about watching the amazing connections being made here, and the local entrepreneurs and businesses coming together as a community to solve problems and support each other. Having new entrepreneurs walk in our doors with their fresh ideas is so inspiring, and we love the creativity that we get to support.
What has been the most surprising/unexpected thing about operating a coworking space?
Dealing with the daily ins and outs of operating a space in general, i.e. installing special remote access door locks, troubleshooting any issues with internet access for all, blowing out the sprinklers before winter, etc! But it has been fun to problem solve and step out of our business mindsets and make sure our space is efficient, warm, and welcoming for all!
What’s your favorite story about one of your members?
We have a local entrepreneur who had been working on an idea (we can’t spill the beans on the specifics yet!) for a few years but felt stuck. He came to us slightly nervous about it, but after he presented his idea and research, and we all saw the potential it was like “Oh my gosh you HAVE to go for this!!! It could affect automotive and other transportation sustainability and eco-friendliness all over the world!” He was floored to hear how excited we were about it because he had mainly been working on it alone and didn’t have a supportive group of entrepreneurs to talk about it with. We immediately started making connections for him to network with folks to take it to the next level, and he made sure to attend the programs we had planned that discussed funding options and other start-up educational events. Watching him go from almost ready to give up, to full-force ahead has been really awesome!
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to open a space?
Know the priorities of your community. Are they mostly remote workers who need drop-in desk space? Do they work on video projects and need extremely high-speed internet? Is it a large group of new entrepreneurs who need educational programs? Is it existing businesses looking for local freelancers to help with marketing and can you help facilitate those connections? Is it folks looking to rent out a conference room a few times a month but don’t need a desk? Being a space for innovation means you need to be innovative yourself in providing resources.