LAFAYETTE, Ind. — MatchBOX Coworking Studio opened its doors as Greater Lafayette’s home for entrepreneurs and innovators in 2014. In the four years since, it’s grown to nearly 300 members utilizing the space as an alternative to a home office or coffee shop.
The growth of high-tech startup founders, alongside traditional business owners, creatives, and makers, in northwest Indiana has led the organization to expand what they offer to this subset of the local economy.
Accelerator activities are designed to meet entrepreneurs where they are and help them bring their products and ideas to market faster than they’d be able to without assistance.
MatchBOX Acceleration has introduced two distinct and unique programs for this market in the last 12 months. The initial offering is positioned to assist first-time and pivoting entrepreneurs as they explore working for themselves and making their ideas a reality. The MBX Entrepreneur Development program covers personal entrepreneurial styles, paths to market, and strategies for new ventures. The program then helps participants tell their story to customers, potential investors, and partners as they begin launching their new businesses.
Polly Barks is the owner of Green Indy, a zero-waste initiative that relies on online platforms for the growth of a business that teaches workshops and shares ideas on minimizing environmental impact. She participated in the first offering of the MBX Entrepreneur Development workshop.
Barks shared of her experience with the program, “Working alongside other founders who were new to entrepreneurship helped me better understand the challenges we’d face and how to address them. Working for yourself can be uncharted territory, and having experienced entrepreneurs as guides and others new to that space as peers made the experience less daunting and minimized the obstacles as they came.”
MBX Venture Development focuses on the specific ventures that these entrepreneurs are starting, and covers topics like market development, legal and operational elements, product development and more over a 12 week course. The first cohort of the Venture Development series wrapped in August of 2018, with 10 new local businesses including an agriculture technology startup, a business focused on the growing Indiana brewery industry, and a re-imagination of the dry cleaning industry with a physical product that simplifies an age-old solution.
Steven Sauder, a serial entrepreneur with startups in the culinary and music industries, participated in the MBX Venture Development workshop with his cofounder Tyler Knochel. The two have launched HustleFish, a digital design agency.
“The Venture Dev series connected us with local mentors and a cohort of other entrepreneurs in Greater Lafayette who have helped us focus what our organization can and will be. We’ve made some pivots and are structuring the agency on a firm foundation because of exploration that happened during the workshops that MatchBOX provided,” said Sauder of his experience in the program.
The next MBX Entrepreneur Development cohort will launch this week, with 15 Greater Lafayette entrepreneurs in a variety of industries meeting weekly at MatchBOX Coworking Studio over the next five weeks. The series will culminate in a pitch night at the studio on October 23 at 7 pm at MatchBOX, where participants will pitch their ideas and new ventures.