Collaborate With CoLab
CoLab offers critical resources for start-ups and entrepreneurs amid pandemic
CoLab, a coworking community located in downtown Eau Claire, has one primary focus: serving their community. And that value hasn’t changed, despite almost everything else in the world changing radically.
“CoLab strives to connect, collaborate, and build community,” said Elaine Coughlin, director of CoLab. “Whether it’s brainstorming, talking through barriers, or connecting folks to key resources, we’re always looking for ways to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem within the Chippewa Valley.”
Amid the pandemic, many businesses have relied on remote work to keep their businesses afloat, and CoLab has the resources to help make turbulent transitions easy and painless. Their downtown location is complete with open-concept desks, personal workstations, Wi-Fi, conference rooms equipped with Zoom technology, phone booths, printing access, a shared kitchen and breakroom, and – perhaps most importantly – copious amounts of coffee.
This offers folks in the community a safe option for working outside home, which is a critical resource for new business owners amid these uncertain times. As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to more Chippewa Vallians, CoLab looks to slowly reopen to new members this spring or summer. Specifically, CoLab focuses on working with local entrepreneurs to continue creating a thriving start-up scene in Eau Claire.
“We want any startup as part of our space to consider us as part of their team. Being an entrepreneur or part of a startup can be a tough and lonely journey, and we are here to make sure you keep going and meet milestones. As part of our community, you’ll stay engaged and connected.”
“We want any startup as part of our space to consider us as part of their team,” Coughlin said. “Being an entrepreneur or part of a startup can be a tough and lonely journey, and we are here to make sure you keep going and meet milestones. As part of our community, you’ll stay engaged and connected.”
But CoLab’s deep roots in the community are nothing new. CoLab is the co-coordinator for Startup Eau Claire Week, the Chippewa Valley’s largest entrepreneurship event, which this year featured 16 virtual events, showcasing almost 50 local businesses, and engaged hundreds of participants. CoLab is also the host for 1 Million Cups, a weekly event that offers a platform for entrepreneurs to gain feedback from the community. CoLab also is the headquarters for VentureHome-Eau Claire, a pilot program in partnership with UW-Eau Claire and the UW System, which acts as Eau Claire’s first seed accelerator program.
“We tend to feed off of each other’s energy,” Coughlin said, “and that is also true about work. If you surround yourself with other motivated individuals and teams, you’re more likely to stay focused and productive.”
In addition to offering critical resources and assistance to local businesses, CoLab is like a member of your team: They want to see your business prosper.
Coughlin finds three tips can be immensely helpful for entrepreneurs working in their space: Create a routine, take breaks, and be sure to get some fresh air throughout the day. Creating a sense of normalcy during times that feel anything but can be tricky, but CoLab is a great place to start.
In the future, CoLab looks to build virtual networks for entrepreneurs who may not need the physical space, but would like to have access to their resources and sense of community. They look to combine virtual and in-person membership offerings and programs, along with free programming to the public to see how the community can best benefit from CoLab.
“We’re excited to be a space that can provide a place that workers from all backgrounds can get focused work done without being isolated from the rest of the world,” Coughlin said. “With COVID-19, we’ve seen a lot of businesses needing to pivot in small and big ways and through this and beyond, CoLab will continue to provide support in the form of programs, events, building community, and providing connections.”
For more information on CoLab, check out their website at www.colabec.com.
312 S Barstow Street, Suite 2, Eau Claire