An Interesting Year for Startups…
2016 was a very interesting year, as many would probably say, but it was particularly interesting for TrepHub and the Startup Community in the Space Coast. While there were some rough patches, all in all, it was a year of growth. The Startups at TrepHub grew, the Startup & Tech Community in the Space Coast grew and there are now at least four places in additional to TrepHub that I can think of, off the top of my head, that are dedicated to serving geeks and budding Treps. Space Coast FabLab, Melbourne Makerspace, Groundswell & FIT Student Incubator (and I’m sure there are more) are all doing a fabulous job of making sure techies feel at home in the Space Coast. Even monolithic companies, previously known for applying daily beatings to their engineering staff (yes, I’m kidding), have begun to realize that those talented engineers need to be treated better (or they’ll come to TrepHub and launch a Multi-Million Dollar Startup & leave!)
The Best of Times…
Personally, I’ve been really happy to see the developments. It’s a far cry from the first meetup of Coders Hackers Founders, when we couldn’t even get people to give us a space to meet. People aren’t worried about getting fired from their day jobs if they attend meetups and try to bring their own ideas to life! However, all of this has had an odd effect on TrepHub. Given that we’re a volunteer run organization, what happens when those volunteers are CEOs of companies that aren’t just a small idea anymore, but rather successful, growing organizations?
In some ways, success seemed to be a double edged sword. At one point Brandon was putting in 20+ hours/week in addition to his 60+ hours week of startup work to keep the gears of TrepHub grinding away. As some in the community noticed, I’ve been able to host just a few meetups in 2016. I don’t feel too guilty because Jenna at Groundswell has been doing a bang up job of keeping startup (“businessy”) meetups going. Michael Prentice, Sandy Carter, Chris Crisafulli and other community leaders have been doing tech meetups. And I’m happy to say that there’s even a Machine Learning meetup happening at FIT.
The Worst of Times…
So, right at the end of 2016 we were faced with a dilemma… TrepHub is a valuable community resource, given its open source and community driven nature. We even have donors (successful TrepHub alums) that are willing to give back, but nobody seems to be particularly keen to volunteer for operations. I think we answered only 25 of the requests for space rentals that came in last year, which not only affects revenues but also community participation. The latter being a bigger deal than the former.
We can easily make up the revenues from alum donations, but if there aren’t more people coming by and using TrepHub, we start to take away from the community. Throwing money at the problem is one way other incubators have solved similar problems but if you know anything about us, you know that’s not our style. We bootstrapped and innovated our way here and throwing money at anything is the opposite of who we are. To make things worse, we were put on notice by the new owner of the building where we were renting space for TrepHub that we’d have to move by Feb 1st, so we started scrambling to look for new office space. We put in quite a bit of legwork. As one real estate agent told me, I knew more about the market than he did since I’d seen more properties.
Then the stars aligned and I was introduced to Federico & Valerie, who are the new owners of the 1900 Building and other properties in downtown Melbourne. TrepHub has always been about people. It’s the people in our community that built the space, the people that power it and the people that run it. As I walked thru the 1900 building and interacted with Federico, I realized that his vision for his projects, and passion for what he does, makes him a Treppie too. And in typical Treppie fashion, he said “We’ll make it happen!”… And happen it did! TrepHub’s new home is now the 1900 building, which is basically what TrepHub would’ve been 5 years from now, in our ultimate vision of a “Startup Space”:
- A space with lots of Common Area,
- Office Spaces for Startups,
- Meeting Rooms (7 Rooms Altogether),
- a Starbucks,
- a Co-working space
- And Even More coming soon (befitting a Proper Tech Startup Office)…
Imagine, a space with seasoned professional management who genuinely care about the community & have a vision that aligns almost perfectly with ours for the SpaceCoast. That means basic supplies don’t run out if Amazon misses a subscription delivery (Yes, I’m sorry about the paper towels running out in the old space!)
TrepHub didn’t just move into a new space, but our community got a new home & got new champions! I can’t thank Federico & Valerie enough for going all out and doing custom buildout for the co-working space with everything we wanted, including a room with walls from reclaimed wood from pallets, within Just 2 Weeks! Incidentally, I was also looking for office space for Call Sumo & we ended up getting office right across from the co working space. This is HUGE! We didn’t just solve the space problem, but we essentially fast forwarded 5 years!
A Community Effort…
In typical TrepHub fashion the community showed up and moved furniture from the old space to the new in 6 hours. We have access card readers with 24-hour access, super awesome internet from Level3, 7 meeting rooms (those are always in demand) and tons of common area space to hangout. Federico’s revamping the whole building inside & out and his vision is to fill it with Tech Companies which would previously have to hunt for office space once they were beyond the co-working phase. And already we have a few tech companies in the building!
Our New Home:
1900 S Harbor City Blvd, Melbourne, FL 32901
Looking Forward to a Great 2017!
What more could we ask for? Space for meetups, startups and early stage tech companies! And this frees Brandon and myself up to host more of the tech meetups we’ve been meaning to have. I think it’s fair to say that we’re looking forward to a VERY exciting 2017 for TrepHub & the Tech Startup Community in the Space Coast!