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10 Entrepreneurs Leading Coworking Spaces and Innovation Hubs

The last decade has seen a huge rise in the number of coworking spaces.

According to statistics for 2019, there are over 5,000 such facilities in the US alone and 19,000 around the world. And observers predict these numbers will grow as more people turn to freelance working or become solopreneurs.

Coworking spaces involve people working independently or together in a shared office space. They can provide opportunities for networking, sharing ideas, or sourcing investors.

Despite their growth, few coworking spaces are black-owned or cater to the needs of diverse business owners and professionals. But that is slowly changing. Across the U.S. coworking facilities are being launched that provide black entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and opportunities for professional development.

Check out this list of 10 coworking spaces that focus on diversity and inclusion.

 

1. Ryan Wilson, The Gathering Spot

Ryan Wilson is the CEO and co-founder of The Gathering Spot in Atlanta. It is an invitation-only private members club which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Wilson and co-founder TK Petersen launched The Gathering Spot in 2016 after securing a $3 million investment for the startup.

Professionals and entrepreneurs gain access to workspace private offices, conference rooms and flexible, open workspaces. There is also a fully-equipped event space and full-service restaurant. A second Gathering Spot venue opened earlier this year in Washington D.C and a third is planned for Los Angeles.

You can find out more info on The Gathering Spot here:

 

2. Jay Bailey, Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs

Jay Bailey was named President and CEO of Atlanta’s Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) in 2018. RICE offers business owners 50,000 square feet of convening and meeting space.

RICE is also a business accelerator and innovation lab, describing itself as ‘an economic mobility engine for the community’. Through its Business Resources Center RICE members can access strategy huddle sessions. And its Big Ideas curriculum offers resources for first-time entrepreneurs.

You can find out more info on RICE here:

Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship RCIE Chief Exec James “Jay” Bailey Talks Ambitious Roadmap For Epicenter For Black Entrepreneurs

Jay Bailey, President & CEO, Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs

3. Derick Pearson, Center for Black Innovation

Derick Pearson is the Executive Director and  President of the Center for Black Innovation (CFBI). He and his wife Felecia Hatcher founded the CFBI in August 2020. It grew out of the nonprofit organization Code Fever Miami.

The organization supports Black entrepreneurs through a range of innovative programs. There are regular capital investor matchmaking sessions. CFBI also offers a mix of in-person and virtual courses aimed at accelerating Black tech entrepreneurship in Miami.

You can find out more info on CFBI here:

 

4. James Parker, 1921 Coworking

Serial entrepreneur James Parker is the CEO and founder of 1921 Coworking in Chicago. Named after Tulsa’s famed Black Wall Street, the 12,000 sq. ft. facility provides members with a range of facilities. These include shared space, private offices, conference rooms and virtual mail services.

But 1921’s support of Black businesses doesn’t stop at providing facilities. Members can access entrepreneurship training courses, business mentoring and networking opportunities. And its not-for-profit 1921 Incubator is designed to help minority startups get funded and launched.

You can find out more info on 1921 Coworking here:

 

5. Arif Gürsel, The Union

Technology strategist Arif Gürsel is the founder of The Union, a Seattle based innovation hub aimed at people of Pan-African descent. It provides a coworking space and courses for people who want to follow careers in technology or who are planning on becoming entrepreneurs.

The Union comes under the umbrella of the nonprofit Pan African Center for Empowerment (PACE). Gürsel, recently appointed as Global Head of Product Partnerships at YouTube, founded PACE in 2015. Other organizations under the PACE umbrella that foster co-working and black tech entrepreneurship are the Koya Academy and Tribe Called T.E.C.H.

You can find out more info on The Union here:

 

6. Terell and Marisa Johnson, La Create Sp_ce

Terell and Marisa Johnson are the husband and wife team behind La Create Sp_ce. It is a membership based, co-working community located in Inglewood, California. Members have access to workspaces, hot desks, conference rooms, and production studios.

La Create Sp_ce was inspired by the couple’s professional experiences in the tech industry. Terell’s background includes working at Facebook and Snapchat  while Marisa has worked at companies such as Beats by Dre. They wanted to create a venue where small business owners, artists and content creators could meet and collaborate on projects.

You can find out more info on La Create Sp_ce here:

 

7. Bridgid Coulter, Blackbird House

Blackbird House, a 12,000 square-foot coworking space in Culver City, California, is the brainchild of interior designer and former actress Bridgid Coulter. It grew out of her desire to create an inclusive and supportive space for black female entrepreneurs.

Coulter describes Blackbird House as a private collective based on the pillars of productivity, community and wellness. It includes a communal workspace, a lounge area, 40 dedicated desks and conference rooms. Among the events it runs are panel discussions, and talks focused on creativity, activism and well-being.

You can find out more info on Blackbird House here:

 

8. Aaron Sanders, Inclusive Innovation Incubator

Aaron Saunders is CEO of Inclusive Innovation Incubator (In3), based at Washington D.C.’s Howard University. The co-working space aims to provide opportunities for underrepresented tech entrepreneurs. The 8,000 square foot building houses 60 workstations, 11 private offices, five classrooms and four conference rooms.

At $200 per month, entrepreneurs get access to a series of special talks and classes. These cover topics such as coding, app development and growing a tech startup. In3 also hosts networking events aimed at providing entrepreneurs with strategic connections to investors and partners.

You can find out more info on Inclusive Innovation Incubator here:

 

9. LC Johnson, Zora’s House

Zora’s House, is a coworking space and leadership incubator aimed at Black, Indigenous, and other women of color. It was founded by Ohio resident LC Johnson. She decided to create the venue after moving to the state and struggling to find other women of color to socialize or discuss business projects with.

Its facilities include a co-working studio and event space. There are also yoga classes and workshops on topics ranging from self-love to marketing a passion-based business. Since its April 2018 launch, more than 2,000 women of color have participated in Zora’s House programs and events.

You can find out more info on Zora’s House here:

LC Johnson, Founder & CEO of Zora’s House

10. Shala W. Graham, Creative Colony Spaces

Shala W. Graham is the founder of Creative Colony, a coworking space for creative professionals and entrepreneurs in Silver Spring, Maryland. Members have access to facilities such as conference rooms, high-speed wi-fi and individual office space.

Branding expert and photographer Graham created the venue with the goal of creating a collaborative community where people can support each other’s businesses. She says that Creative Colony Spaces reflects her passion for helping entrepreneurs achieve success.

You can find out more info on Creative Colony Spaces here:

 

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Vic Motune
Vic Motune
Vic Motune is a veteran news editor and seasoned multimedia journalist now writing for UrbanGeekz
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