A Special Kickstart Monday: Expanding Coworking in North Texas

Our North Texas startup community really is amazing — I gushed about it last week when we took a look at all of the resources that North Texas entrepreneurs have available to them. 

And those resources are growing even more, if you can believe it. 

There are currently TWO Indiegogo campaigns going on for the North Texas startup community right now: The Grove, Dallas Expansion campaign, and the campaign to start the FIRST EVER coworking space in Denton, by TechMill.

I can’t keep my excitement to myself, honestly, so here we go.

The Grove calls itself a “new kind of social space.” Not only are members provided the resources to grow their businesses, but they’re also engaged in real social mission — a movement towards “intentionally addressing the systemic issues that plague society.”

The Grove, Dallas space,  in the West End.

The Grove, Dallas space, in the West End.

Justin Nygren is the Relational Architect at the Grove, and one of the owners. What excites him most about what the Grove is doing is the possibility for “engaging in conversations around economic development and systemic change.”

“We can have real conversations around issues like poverty, access to food and education, equal rights for women and minorities,” he says.

And, like the Grove’s sister site up in New Haven, Connecticut, those issues can be tackled by the Dallas community in a tangible way. The Grove in New Haven is seen as a hub for the city to push social change and grow the economy. And the members, nonprofits, and startups that are connected with the Grove here in Dallas are just as hell-bent on making a difference in their ecosystem.

“Part of our mission is to reengage and revitalize the area. The West End was where commerce began in Dallas — we want to see that happen again,” said Nygren.

And the Grove has seen amazing growth since it opened in September 2013. It started out with 6 members, and currently there are over 60 members working in the space. “We chose crowdfunding to maintain the integrity of our Grove brand, instead of relying on investors.”

And the campaign donors will be involved in how the community flourishes — $1000 donors can provide a 3-month membership to a startup or nonprofit in the area, giving that business the resources it needs to make a difference.

Exciting stuff, right?

HANG ON, though. It gets even better.

We know Denton is a city of creativity, culture, and innovation. Well, so is their startup community, as many of you know — especially if you were able to attend the TechMill launch event last week.

10390574_486263094806676_5529648084234418592_nMarshall Culpepper was born in DFW, and wound up becoming involved in the startup scene about 5 years ago. He ended up in Denton, where the startup community was growing. But about 7 months ago, a team of passionate and bootstrap-crazy individuals came together to found TechMill — “a non-profit group assembled by members of the community with a common goal: To make Denton the best place to start an independent, creative, bootstrapped tech business.”

They soon realized the need for a space for all of the wonderful and innovative tech startups in the area, and decided to take on not only the challenge of creating a real community around Denton’s startups, but also the challenge of a dedicated space for them.

The TechMill coworking space will be the FIRST in Denton. Not only that, but it will be entirely cooperative:

Unlike other coworking spaces, our members will form a non-profit cooperative, where the total costs are split according to level of membership. This assures that monthly costs remain as low as possible for all members, and gives the community an incentive to grow.

“We have a lot of problems to solve. And it’s really exciting,” says Culpepper, President of TechMill. “We’re incentivizing the members to grow their own community, to make it their own.”

There is a buzz in our community — the amount of growth and success that we’re seeing is huge. What’s even more amazing is the support that this ecosystem is getting — from the individuals involved, to city officials who are starting to take note.

So here’s where the story gets even better, if you can believe it. Both campaigns started last week. That raised concerns for some people, but Justin Nygren pointed something important out:

I’ve received a few comments from people in the community asking me if I was troubled by the fact that they launched their crowdfunding campaign just one day before we did.  While I can understand the sentiment, it actually goes against the spirit of our whole movement.  If we preach the gospel of collaboration, resource sharing and cocreation, then we should be supporting each other, rather than thinking about how many more supporters we could have had if the other campaign had not launched.

Marshall Culpepper also posted the following on the TechMill blog:

The common threads we share with the Dallas startup community are too numerous to list here, but this is our region’s attempt to lead by example. Let’s show the rest of the state how our metroplex values collaboration over competition, and community over selfishness.

And they’ve certainly set a wonderful example. Both The Grove and TechMill donated to each other’s campaigns today, and are asking their members to donate to those campaigns as well.

As Justin Nygren puts it: “This is the new economy.”

Let’s keep that collaboration going — contribute to both of these amazing campaigns today, and to the North Texas startup ecosystem.


Check out the Grove’s campaign here.

And the TechMill campaign here


(Header image credit: The Grove, Dallas)
Rachel Winstead

Rachel is a freelance writer and works at Soap Hope in downtown Dallas. She hates the term "disrupt," tweets about startups, and appreciates a well-crafted hashtag.