By Josh Staloch
GREEN BAY – There’s something to be said for finding the perfect physical space for concentrating on completing a project.
As far as the average office building goes, perfect is generally off the table when it comes to options like aesthetics, location or amenities.
For the burgeoning startup and tech community in Green Bay, a new facility on Broadway called the Urban Hub hopes to fill the need for a space where entrepreneurs and startup companies can not only set up their essential office gear, but also collaborate and network with other people on a journey to launch an idea into a successful company.
The building, located in the Rail Yard Innovation District at Broadway and Dousman, features a contemporary look with views of Broadway.
Initially, Urban Hub was set up to be a more generic co-working space, but was eventually designed with startups and tech in mind.
Aside from an abundant space running through the middle of the building for desks and individual work space, there are options, with two meeting rooms and a presentation space to accommodate up to 60 people.
“We’re kind of hoping to position ourselves as a startup and tech hub,” said Matthew Kee, startup develop manager for the economic development arm of the Greater Green Bay Chamber and one of the minds responsible for getting the Urban Hub off the ground. “The response so far has been fantastic. We’re counting on this to be a major resource for those looking to grow their startup in Green Bay. Up to this point, the tech and startup community here has been sort of disconnected. As a startup founder, now I know where I can go to find other people like me. Having that community is absolutely pivotal for success.”
Three software developers and two venture capitalists will make up the founding group of businesses taking up space at Urban Hub when it opens on March 11.
Wipfli, a national CPA and consulting firm, will soon be members and have a role there.
“To provide that place of community is so important for entrepreneurs,” said Kelly Armstrong, president of economic development at the Greater Green Bay Chamber. “The entrepreneurial journey can be lonely. It only helps to know that there are other people going through the journey, and at different phases, also. You might need something at one phase of the process that the person right down the hall has already dealt with.”
There will be no shortage of like-minded business people collaborating within the walls of Urban Hub and another development just down the block gives more options.
The Nest, brainchild of co-founders Jess Hopp and Alex VandeHei, celebrated its ribbon cutting Feb. 24, and is moving forward with providing entrepreneurs with resources, office space and community connections.
VandeHei, who attended Preble High School and St. Norbert College, met Hopp in Minneapolis where both were entrepreneurs who spent lots of time working from home.
After six years, VandeHei returned to Green Bay and Hopp decided to relocate here not long after.
It was then the two decided to take what they knew about networking as entrepreneurs and set up a business which caters to women who are going through the same situations and struggles they went through when they started out.
“It didn’t take us long, once we were living in the same place again, to decide to build this community here in Green Bay,” said VandeHei. “It’s been excellent so far. The Broadway District is a perfect place for us. We’ve got almost 40 members at this point and interest is growing.”
The Nest is about fostering a supportive environment for women to collaborate with and motivate each other in the interest of becoming change makers.
In addition to providing workspace, The Nest will serve as a gallery for creative events as well as an inclusive gathering space for different groups to host get togethers.
“We’re less of a co-working space and more of a community,” VandeHei said. “We’re a networking group that has a physical establishment. The co-working side of it is almost just a perk of being a member.”
The Nest wants to be a resource hub with options for women in Green Bay.
“We want people to come in and be able to share their resources,” VandeHei said. “For example, we have an attorney as a member who can give advice on how to set up an LLC. We have an accountant, a web developer, all of these different experts here that can learn from each other.”