Today marks the grand opening of COVENTURE, a new addition to the Proximity Network in Carbondale, CO! We sat down with Evan Zislis, the Director of Operations at COVENTURE to learn more about the new space.
When did you open your coworking space and what enticed you to do so?
COVENTURE opened its cowork space in Carbondale, CO on February 2019 in response to the growing local demand for affordable and flexible workspaces.
Tell us about your space.
Our grand opening event will be Friday, March 1, but because we’ve already hosted a number of new members in the space, we’re already off and running. Our favorite aspect of cowork is the opportunity for entrepreneurs to come together under one roof. The electricity in the air kind of tingles when everyone is hyper-focused on whatever they’re working on. The vibe is different from a coffee shop where there’s a lot more going on. Here at COVENTURE, it’s all business development all the time. The collaboration and innovative approach to building community around business has already created new opportunities for entrepreneurs of the Roaring Fork Valley. We can’t wait until everyone is moved in and the place is buzzing at capacity.
How big is it? What kinds of amenities do you have? What sort of quirks make it special?
The main cowork space on the first floor is 2,848 sq ft of community “flex” seating and designated desks, including our café kitchen and a fireside lounge. We have additional private offices and executive suites available for solopreneurs and professional teams on the second and third floor of our building. Located on Main Street – in the heart of downtown, COVENTURE offers wireless printing, private telephone booths, conference rooms, and a bright, wide-open feel. We’re in close proximity to Marble Distilling Company, True Nature Healing Arts yoga retreat center, The Village Smithy restaurant, Fat Belly Burger and other downtown amenities. COVENTURE delivers an ideal location for affordable workspaces, dynamic networking, and downtown convenience. With the fastest internet on Main Street and a growing community of world-class professionals, COVENTURE has already secured partnerships with regional and state-wide partners, including: Denver University Daniels College of Business, Colorado Mountain College, Isaacson School of New Media, Roaring Fork Leadership, Lead with Love, and the Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC). This positions COVENTURE to be a centralized hub, not only for cowork, but for professional development and business development training and support services.
What is your favorite thing about operating a coworking space?
The amount of work it has taken to secure the space, coordinate the renovation and generate enough community and regional support to launch — has been extraordinary. But we’re already hitting our target fundraising benchmarks and the amount of support we’re seeing from every corner of the community is encouraging. We’re confident the hardest work is behind us.
What has been the most surprising/unexpected thing about operating a coworking space?
COVENTURE, our current nonprofit, evolved from the GlenX brand we used to beta-test our programs in 2018. We’ve had a number of local businesses go through our incubator and accelerator programs last year, culminating in a Shark Tank-style pitch event that helped us to raise $1,250,000 for 5 local companies. For year one, that’s awesome. We’re excited about watching those businesses to continue to grow as we welcome new entrepreneurs into our 2019 accelerator program. Partnering with regional venture capital funds and generating new interest within the Roaring Fork Valley around venture capital opportunities makes us feel especially proud to assist some of these up-and-coming entrepreneurs to grow strategically.
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to open a space?
Our advice for communities interested in starting a new coworking space is to gauge the local investment in the project. Make sure there is a critical mass of both public and private investors in the opportunity, as well as a steady community of potential members/users. If the community can’t sustain the operating costs because there aren’t enough members, the enterprise will require tremendous effort to maintain grants and solicit private donor/sponsorship. Run your cash flow projections early, update them frequently and test assumptions against commitments to help fund year-round operations.