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airbnb for Entrepreneurs

by / Tuesday, 18 September 2012 / Published in Industry, Startups
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Without a doubt, one of the most exceptional new services brought to us by the interweb is airbnb. An incredibly obvious service (in hindsight); the website connects people with unique spaces that can serve as an accommodation, to travelers looking a distinct, personal, and comfortable experience. As they put it, “Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 26,000 cities and 192 countries.”

What seems incredible is the result of the collaboration of skilled architects, developers, and designers. Something that is simple and elegant to you, the user of the experience, is rarely indeed simple to create. That’s so because the brilliance is not just in the web service that airbnb provides but in the entire experience created for both hosts and travelers. Starting with 6 Golden Rules, airbnb creates for both parties, an elevated set of community standards above which everyone is expected to strive. As a result, airbnb ensures not only an exceptional experience for the wayfarers and hosts, but with their own service – you can be assured of great places to stay through airbnb.

airbnb for Entrepreneurs

In developing startups, we like to simplify the story behind a venture as greatly as possible; this is referred to the High-Concept Pitch. Such a statement, simply conveys that an innovation is Like X but for Y: Amazon.com is like Walmart but online (though they probably hate that I just said that), the iPhone is a computer in your pocket… you get the idea?

There are 84M people in the United States who want to be entrepreneurs! That’s half our working population!! And in this era of economic challenges and unemployment, I think it’s fair to say that we as a country, as an economy, are failing in enabling those individuals to cut their path. Of course, there are many reasons people struggle to becoming entrepreneurs and start their own companies; from a lack of capital to simple fear, being an entrepreneur is hard. But it shouldn’t be.

A few months ago, I put my head down for a few weeks with a couple of incredible entrepreneurs and built Cospace. Simply, the idea behind the skunkworks I was experimenting with at Cospace is “airbnb for entrepreneurs”.

Making Innovation Open and Accessible

That second part of the headline is really key in this context. Being an entrepreneur starts with making innovation accessible. We wrestled a bit with this terminology… innovation, after all, is invention isn’t it? Entrepreneurs start businesses; they don’t necessarily create new technologies. Not so fast…

Innovation is the development of new customer value through solutions that meet new needs, unarticulated needs, or old customer and market needs in new ways. This is accomplished through different or more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society.

A rather wordy definition that essentially points out that innovation is what drives entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs develop new customer value through solutions that meet needs. Cospace was an exploration of making that accessible to everyone.

Entrepreneurship starts with space

Think about it. Sure, most jump to the conclusion that being an entrepreneur starts with an idea, perhaps some capital, or maybe a partner. But indeed, all of that, comes from WHERE you spend your time. From the right space, you foster a network of peers, collaborate on ideas, and begin to turn innovation into business. The key to becoming an entrepreneur, the key to forging your own path, is getting out. Sure, to some extent that means overcoming the challenge of networking but even networking with others starts with the right space. airbnb for work spaces.

Not unlike airbnb, Cospace starts by helping people discover, connect, and monetize commercial, retail, and campus space by turning their space into collaborative workspace, classroom, and marketplace for entrepreneurs. You have a space that hosts (or could / should host) entrepreneurs? Cospace will help you transform that into a collaborative space with a rich network of local talent, resources, and ideas served by education to help develop businesses.

A cospace provides entrepreneurs and innovators with an entrepreneurial ecosystem-as-a-service — workplace, resources, and education — from which everyone can start, build, and grow.

Entrepreneurship flourishes with on demand, skills based education

Where it starts with space, entrepreneurship really takes off when the right education is delivered in the right context, to the right place.  Mining a skills database and identifying the need and demand for specific skills in markets throughout the country, a cospace delivers on-demand curriculum and education to spaces.   Where airbnb is teaching travelers and hosts how to excel in their relationship with one another, so too is a cospace teaching spaces and entrepreneurs to collaborate and excel together.

What’s exciting for many coworking spaces throughout the country is that cospaces provide trained, motivated, entrepreneurial hosts to help such spaces evolve from coworking spaces to cospaces.  I use that noun intentionally not as a pro-noun; few coworking spaces are truly collaborative, supportive, and resources in communities for entrepreneurship.  Cospace transforms such spaces into collaborative spaces starting with the greatest value one can provide to the coworking community – hosts who know how to operate and evangelize the space, the community, best.

Cospace - airbnb for entrepreneursThe other side of the equation of course is recognizing the idea that Phoenix lacks iOS developers while Denver demands more WordPress professionals.  Through spaces, through cospaces, we’re turning on world-class curriculum, employing teachers, and training individuals to meet those needs.  Making innovation open.

By procuring and distributing resources in entrepreneurship and education, cospaces foster economic development in neighborhoods, for cities, and truly, finally, makes entrepreneurship… no, innovation, open and accessible.

I hope you’ll join me on this exciting opportunity.

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