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Reworking the Work Space - Manhattan Magazine

The Fellow Coworking Manhattan Kansas shared office space entrepreneur coffee shop remote employee
The Fellow Coworking Manhattan Kansas shared office space entrepreneur coffee shop remote employee

(Original feature in The Manhattan Magazine.)

The space of a car was all the room Josh Hicks needed to conceptualize his big idea.

During a drive home to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens with his wife, Shelby Hicks, her brother and his wife, Josh learned that his vision to create a shared space for small businesses was not a new concept. His brother-in-law was already a member of a coworking space in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

"It was like the sun came out for the first time in six months," Josh says, realizing that he and Shelby didn't have to "create this whole animal."

The couple and their team received keys to the building to began renovations about 12 weeks after Josh’s epiphany. They drove to Sioux Falls that same day to participate in a 12 hour think tank workshop with other owners of coworking spaces.
 

Josh, Shelby, co-founders Derek Richards and Caleb Amundson, and co-owner Allyn Weddle, enlisted a crew of volunteers to stage an eight week renovation of The Fellow’s building at 1125 Westport Drive to make it “modern, clean, and open.”

Concurrently, they pre-sold memberships and prepared for a launch part in April 2016 to beat the exodus that occurs during the summer vacation season. Fast forward. Today, The Fellow’s six sold out private offices have a waiting list, and its 3,000 square feet of coworking space are shared by half of the up to 60 members-small business owners who are 21 and older-who can use it as an office away from home, particularly when no office exists. It’s a small membership fee to use the space, or interested parties can purchase day passes to try it out. The first day is free.

The Fellow has served more than a shared working environment, however. Art shows, live music, non-profit events, and even church services are held in the building’s gathering spaces, which include a consultation nook, conference room, and a cafe- each furnished with technology. Josh and Shelby’s personal experience as small business owners served as their inspiration for opening The Fellow. “My wife and I are also photographers, so we were working from home and coffee shops,” Josh says. “We finally hit that rut of working from home.”

The lack of a true work environment and the distraction of everyday duties began to cripple the couple’s morale. They created their new business venture to avert such a struggle for small business owners like themselves. “The Fellow is for anyone who works from home, coffee shops, or remotely,” Josh says. “It is a space, but it has members.. It’s its own community.”

The Fellow Coworking Manhattan Kansas shared office space entrepreneur coffee shop remote employee

StartUp MHK pitch competition opens registration.

Earlier this summer entrepreneurs in the Manhattan business community launched StartUp MHK, a pitch competition with a chance to win thousands of dollars in seed capital to help launch their business idea on the real market.

The Fellow StartUp MHK Manhattan Kansas seed capital start a business pitch competition

Registration is now open for the practice pitch on August 26th, 2017 beginning at 9am. Peoples State Bank is presenting the pitch competition held at The Fellow. This is the event to fine-tune your pitch and get helpful tips from the Pitch Competition judges. The event is designed to help you with your plan and your pitch.

Mike Honeywell, a partner in JNT Company, a Manhattan-based marketing firm, helped produce a similar event in Jefferson City, Missouri.

“If you’ve been thinking about starting up a business or somebody has said, ‘You ought to start a business,’ this is the place where you’ll get more support than you’ve ever got in your entire life,” he said.

For the inaugural year, Honeywell said the goal is to have a pool of $5,000 to $8,000 to distribute to the three businesses with the best pitch. He said he hopes to hear 30 to 40 pitches.

The StartUp MHK 2017 Pitch Competition will be September 23rd at Peoples State Bank.

StartUp MHK to give opportunities to entrepreneurs.

StartUp MHK to give opportunities to entrepreneurs.

If you’ve been thinking about starting up a business or somebody has said, ‘You ought to start a business,’ this is the place where you’ll get more support than you’ve ever got in your entire life,” Honeywell said after launching StartUp MHK, which will include a pitch competition for entrepreneurs.