START UP: CoLab Can Be the Launchpad for Your Business – and More
ToyVentive and dozens of others know CoLab as the Valley’s entrepreneurial hub
Locals likely recognize CoLab for its plethora of entrepreneur-focused events and its aesthetic and efficient coworking space in downtown Eau Claire, but small businesses and local entrepreneurs know CoLab as the go-to for all things business resource-related. Local Tomi Stoyanova got her own company, ToyVentive, off the ground back in 2018 at CoLab and hasn’t looked back since.
Prior to starting ToyVentive in 2018, Tomi had a successful career in human resources before stepping back to be a stay-at-home mom. This is when she discovered how fantastic educational toys are for little humans. After completing some of her own product research and design, she jumped headfirst into ToyVentive with help from CoLab, utilizing its original space and its longstanding connections to the Economic Development Corporation, the City of Eau Claire, and more, to get her business off to a running start. ToyVentive’s first product is now an Amazon Bestseller toy with more than 15,000 reviews.
Since then, Tomi and ToyVentive have been progressing right alongside CoLab, now having her own office in the new CoLab space on Barstow Street and the ToyVentive team growing with three additional employees who also utilize it. With such exponential growth in just its first few years in business, Tomi said ToyVentive could not have grown into what it is without the vital launchpad CoLab provided.
Single Day Pass: $20 | Access to non-reserved workspace seating
Flex Membership: $120/month | Access to non-reserved workspace seating, advance booking of phone rooms + conference rooms, amenities like free coffee, printing etc.
Dedicated Membership: $300/month | Your own sit-stand reserved desk at CoLab, lockable storage beside it, 24/7 key fob access, plus benefits included in flex
Find more options at colabec.com.
“Initially, I remember thinking, ‘I’m not very good at this,’ ” Tomi recalled, laughing. “I just didn’t know how to do online marketing or things like that, and it took me years to know what I know now. I took full advantage of the trainings at CoLab, like the entrepreneurial training done by UW-Eau Claire, and I found my bank, Northwestern Bank, through CoLab.”
Tomi also learned about and participated in the Economic Development Corporation’s Business Idea Challenge where she was a semi-finalist, utilized the Small Business Development Center to view projection numbers and nail down accounting for ToyVentive, and even talked about brochure designs and gained advice from the CoLab team in her initial years.
Plus, much of the beauty of CoLab is in its coworking model. Individuals and teams from all different careers and companies can work in the same space and get energized meeting other like-minded people in their thriving shared workspace.
“CoLab was the perfect space for me back then when I really just needed to be able to go to a location that already provided the things I needed, like a furnished, professional space to work, WiFi, a printer, conference rooms, and fresh coffee – which I definitely needed,” she said.
While CoLab is preparing for their mid-2024 move into an even cooler, larger space at the old Antique Emporium building in downtown Eau Claire, the hub continues to serve the Chippewa Valley’s small biz and entrepreneurial community. Offering up their coworking space to hangout and organically network, things like their breakfast- and pizza-break events make it that much easier to thrive.
“CoLab has a great working relationship with all the players in our entrepreneurial ecosystem, so we can offer those connections and resources,” Adam Accola, CoLab’s Community Manager, explained. “We want to be the front door for people who want to get connected to the other go-to’s.”
Location: 131 S. Barstow St., Suite 202, Eau Claire
Phone: (715) 514-2275