Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why the HuB works (part II)....

If you read my last article, you learned about the genesis of the HuB, and how important it was for us to embrace the creative process. The HuB was a simple concept when we started - 
"what if we just create a place where creative entrepreneurs can come together to work, connect and ultimately create whatever they wanted to".  
It sounds simple.... but it required more than just getting a building and opening the door. It required a few key pieces that weren't easy pulling together.

The FIRST piece was the commitment to invest in the community. We knew in order to grow the HuB, we needed to build and support the creative community around us. Some people call this a "Social Enterprise" - where a business is driven by doing good.... but I think the HuB is more than that - because we not only strive to do "good", but we also actively promote a platform of change that builds a more progressive and creative community. The HuB effects not just the economic development of Sarasota, but also the social and political dynamics   Some of our major community campaigns include "I Love Downtown" (which brought new business to our struggling downtown in the recession), Google Island (which promoted broadband in our community and received national attention), Vote/SRQ (to improve voter turnout in local elections) and many more. These campaigns not only make our community more attractive to the Creative Class, but it also brings attention to our mission and what we are doing at the HuB.  The HuB is not just an incubator, or community workspace, or studio.... its a movement... its a catalyst.

The SECOND piece was our commitment to find ways to attract Creative people (e.g. the Creative Class). Its not easy to find young creative entrepreneurs in our community. Sarasota is one of the oldest communities in the U.S. and our primary industry is tourism and real estate. One could argue that this is the most difficult place in the entire Country to start a project like the HuB.  Despite this challenge, we knew that we needed to become a "beacon". We knew traditional methods wouldn't work. Creatives don't like networking events and they certainly don't respond to advertisements. So how do you attract young talented entrepreneurs and creative minds within a 60 mile radius???? Answer: Throw parties. We knew that in order to rebuild our local economy, we needed to start to build a more dynamic social life.  We went as far to even create a Music Festival.  We knew in order to attract Creative People, we needed to give them a reason to come to us. Who knew beer, music and old couches would attract so many amazing creative individuals.

The THIRD piece was having an Open Door Policy.... we have invested hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours in talking with entrepreneurs and creatives who visit the HuB. Most of the time, they are simple conversations about what they want to do, and how we could help. It can be overwhelming to make a commitment to open a "Free Help Clinic" (especially in a recession with 10%+ un-employment). But we knew in order for us to find the entrepreneurs willing to invest time and take the risk to start the next venture at the HuB we needed to talk to everyone. (Everytime someone walks in, we think "this person may have the next best idea").... and this is what drives the growth behind the HuB. 

If you really think about these three things... you have to ask the question "How the hell can you get anything done???" You probably won't ever find in a business plan or learn while getting your Masters in Business.....

1) Do Good in your Community
2) Party 
3) Help Others Succeed

I admit - it sounds counter-intuitive ..... but then again, that's the point.  Embracing creativity.

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