Sarah’s Adventures at the Shaker|LaunchHouse
While things here are a bit crazy – juggling life as a mom, client work, and this site, I managed to take some time to talk with my friend Sue Marrone about a business idea she had. Sue invited me to meet her down at Shaker|LaunchHouse. Now while there are a bunch of user groups that use their space, I haven’t had time to get there… until this week. My only regret is not making time to get down there earlier. I wanted to share my personal experience there to give you an idea of what’s around.
When I met with Sue on Thursday, I have to admit that I was a little nervous. I pulled into the lot of this former car dealership and already didn’t know what to expect. But to see how they transformed this (and are continuing to build on it)… simply amazing! When you walk in the front door, there’s the Flex area – those spots are claimed on a first-come, first-served basis. Members who work in the Flex area pay $99/month to access the area. Then, there’s an area where they had a couple meetings – a group of college kids were there yesterday, and today there looked to be a lunch event of some sort. There are private offices – those guys pay more for their space, but it becomes their staked spot. There are conference rooms to reserve. I saw a kitchen, the Makers Alliance space – a nifty hackerspace, another meeting space that looks like it can hold around 200 people (based on what their website says), and more. Their layout plans are posted as well – great plans coming up! And somewhere there, they have chickens. Totally not what I expected!
When I walked in on Thursday, I knew I was looking for Sue. Other than that, I figured I wouldn’t know anyone else. However, after wandering a little, I ran into my friend Matt, who eventually was able to help me find Sue thanks to their common friend Jay. Later in the day, I found out that my friend James is part of their IT crew. The characters at LaunchHouse come from all walks of life – humans and dogs, business people, techies, and everyone in between. You have the architect, who’s out of retirement for a 2nd time and is enjoying what he does. Then there are the Tenant Magic guys – they have some cool projects for landlords and tenants. There’s a guy who’s doing some cool things in music. Did you know that the newspaper isn’t the only place to find unclaimed funds? There’s a guy who specializes in tracking that down. There are developers writing all sorts of code. Writers, designers, IT guys, developers… all sorts of backgrounds. Everyone has a story, and I’ve been enjoying hearing about them so far and making note in the back of my mind on how I might be able to help them out later.
The vibe is a powerful one. Did I mention that these guys are super smart? The ideas and creativity that flows throughout the place is grand. As I sat there with Sue on Thursday, I thought “This… this is where I need to be. This… this is where awesome technology happenings happen. These are my people – the kind of people who I would love to network with and help out as best as I can.” So this morning, I returned to the LaunchHouse, in hopes of catching up with Dar Caldwell and finding out how I can help. Alas, he was caught up with stuff and I managed to be engaged in various conversations as well. But the energy that I could feel throughout the morning was great – to be surrounded by this environment encouraged more of my personality out. The vibe… inspiring.
All This Happiness… What’s One Downfall?
The major downfall – at least for me – is that there’s no easy highway access. Thankfully, I live on the east side so taking city streets is no big deal. However, if I were living in any part of Cleveland not near Shaker, I’d find the lack of easy highway access to be a bit annoying.
Overall, I am impressed with the Shaker|LaunchHouse and with what’s going on there. They’ve got a lot going on, and they’re a great asset to Cleveland’s tech community. They have their tech accelerator program (applications close May 1, 2013) coming up, and they’ve already backed some great tech companies. They host user groups, trainings, and other tech events as well. This place truly embraces the Cleveland tech community well. I hope they’ll let me become a member and hang out there more, as Shaker|LaunchHouse has a lot going on, and I’d love to promote them and their techie happenings even more here.