New cooperative workspace and start up incubator open in Ashland
ASHLAND Ignite, a cooperative working space and startup incubator is now open in downtown Ashland and is recruiting new businesses and entrepreneurs from across the Tri-State to locate in the space. Established businesses interested in becoming mentors or sponsoring Ignite are also being sought.
Ignite is the brainchild of Marty and Erica Myers, who own Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt at the Ashland Town Center. The couple founded Ignite to help others in the region more easily pursue their dream of opening a business. Ignite seeks to “spark talent in the Ashland area by promoting new businesses, creating new jobs and encouraging entrepreneurs.”
Ignite is partnering with Ashland Community and Technical College, Morehead State University and the Kentucky Innovation Center, as well as local professionals to provide a one-stop shop for new businesses.
Located on the second floor of 1100 Greenup Avenue, Ignite houses a large open work area, a conference room with projector and presentation equipment, and a separate event space. Businesses have access to shared amenities including a printing services, a scanner, fax machine, phone and Internet access, general office supplies, equipment, a business-focused lending library, a receptionist and plenty of free coffee.
“Cooperative office space helps people get started and have a place to work quickly without having all the upfront expense of leasing an office, setting up all the utilities, getting office furniture,” said Myers. “It allows people to get an office quickly so they can get started on their business or their job venture if they are working from home.”
In addition, those at Ignite will have access to the creativity and assistance of others sharing the space, said Myers. “The people in the space are those who are creative, they have ideas for businesses and products and new things that could revolutionize every day life. Getting those people together to feed off each other and having that companionship and sounding board to me can create amazing things,” he said.
“They (entrepreneurs) can talk to someone who has been there who has experience and can give them recommendations, tips and tricks that they have learned along the way,” said Myers. “We want people to realize that you can come with your ideas and we will sit down and brainstorm and help you. You don’t have to worry about someone stealing your idea. We are here to help, period.”
Additional membership benefits include:
- Weekly and monthly training opportunities
- Free classes focused on business growth
- Assistance in technology for business
- Brainstorming with like-mined entrepreneurs
- Weekend startup events
- Business model development
- Business planning
- Plan-pitching assistance
- Financial modeling
- Prototype development
- Access to seed capital and/or angel funding
- Supply chain help
- Human Resources consultation and staffing help
- Web Design
- Marketing and Graphic Design
Kentucky Innovation Network representative Mick Fosson has also moved his office into the space at Ignite, so he can be on hand to assist entrepreneurs and share the latest information on new programs and initiatives available to local startups.
Along with Fosson, Jonathon Gay at Morehead State University and Larry Ferguson at Ashland Community and Technical College have also come together to donate equipment and brainpower to support Ignite. “Without them Ignite doesn’t exist,” said Myers.
Marty Myers said Ignite is modeled after other successful cooperative workspaces in other cities including Lexington’s Awesome Inc., which has helped to jumpstart small businesses and the local economy there.
“Instead of sitting around waiting for the next big company to come in, I want to create it here with local people. I hope it is several companies. That is the driving force for me,” said Myers.
Ignite will also host community events aimed at cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs and encouraging locals to make the leap to starting their own new venture.
A business idea pitch contest will be held June 3 beginning at 5 p.m. A panel of four judges will decide on the best two pitches, which show the most potential for a sustainable growing business. Winners will be awarded $500 and $1,000 in seed money respectively. The winner will advance to a state competition later this year. Additional business ideas are being sought for the competition.
Game development classes for middle and high school students will begin June 14. The high school session will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the session for middle school students from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. These classes are aimed at cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs, said Marty.
“For me we are planting a seed for the future with the work Ignite is doing by focusing on the younger generation and focusing on young businesses. Four or five years from now, when those high school students graduate or when those businesses have been around a while and grow into bigger companies we are going to be creating jobs and getting those young people to stay here by providing higher paying jobs. To me this is all about the future,” Myers said.
For more information about Ignite and its upcoming events visit it on Facebook at Ignite Ashland Ky. Marty Myers can be reached via Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Ignite by phone at (606) 923-8342.