Build Institute prepares to launch coworking spaces for entrepreneurial community

This is part of a reporting series, supported by Build Institute, that chronicles BIPOC-led businesses and entrepreneurship in Detroit. 
The idea stage is just one small part of the entrepreneurial process. Transforming that idea to a real business requires resources, capital, networking, and a lot of hard work. For Detroit microentrepreneurs, Build Institute exists to provide a nurturing community to help develop and flourish those ideas. For the past decade, they have worked towards empowering under-represented and underserved individuals, including BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and women microentrepreneurs. 

As part of their inclusive innovation hub, Build headquarters in Corktown is preparing to launch their reimagined space, with an Open House on April 27th. This public introduction to the space will kick off the opportunity for microentrepreneurs and organizations to explore and consider reserving the space for their own meetings and events. Co-working is set to officially launch in June. 

Build’s President and CEO Regina Ann Campbell says Build Institute focuses on lifting up microentrepreneurs, those typical Main Street businesses that have less than 10 employees and make less than $250,000. “Microentrepreneurs create jobs, they create community revenue, they really are changemakers,” Campbell says. 

Build’s mission focuses on four pillars: learn, launch, fund, and connect. “There is no debate that BIPOC and women entrepreneurs face systemic barriers. Our work supports these microentrepreneurs efforts and breaks down barriers by providing education, resources, support, and access to capital,”  Campbell says. “We service 80% women, 84% BIPOC individuals, and 49% of those are Black women, so we’re really excited and proud about that. We also work all over the Southeast Michigan area, and we’ve got a national footprint as well, and we’re currently expanding.”

Part of that expansion includes the launch of the coworking spaces. Build Operations Director Laura Corp says the idea was for the space to be a flexible coworking and event space that entrepreneurs could rent for an affordable cost. 

“The Build space in intended to be a place where microentrepreneurs can come and work, bounce ideas off of each other, learn from the subject matter experts we have on staff and on our Build Bench of Talent, in a community that is diverse and focused on helping microentrepreneurs succeed.” 

Teal accent walls, modern white and green chairs, and orange pillows help create a vibrant, modern atmosphere. “We worked with Concetti Studio and Rachel Nelson , a Build Institute grad, to design the space. The thought behind the space was to be flexible, bright, welcoming, and reflect the entrepreneurial spirit,” Corp says. 

“Build has a very recognizable brand, and we wanted this space to represent that brand. We’re lucky because that brand is very cheerful, welcoming, engaging, and conveys energy and that entrepreneurial spirit. Nelson grabbed onto that, ran with it, and did a beautiful job of reworking this space,” Campbell adds.

Janae Griggs, Entrepreneur in Residence, and Laura Corp, Operations Director. Photo: Nick Hagen.

The space is designed for microentrepreneurs to welcome collaborations, troubleshoot problems, and network with Entrepreneurs in Residence, who are available for 1:1 coaching. There are 10 first-come, first-serve coworking desks, a kitchen area with high-top tables, an 18-seat conference room for rent, and two soundproof privacy pods. The privacy pods can be used for webinars, taking phone calls, and completing tasks in a quiet, controlled space.

“Build is so happy to have brought on Noah Kaminsky, the new Events and Co-working Manager, to manage the space,” Corp says “Noah has years of experience working in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and brings a wealth of facility and events management experience to our team. We are ecstatic to have him launch and run our events and coworking space!”

Various coworking packages will be offered, providing different membership options ranging from punch cards to monthly packages. After signing up, members will receive a tour, and be introduced to all the resources provided. Members will also get first access to activities like lunch and learns, workshops, happy hours, and more. 

Noah Kaminsky, Events and Coworking Manager. Photo: Nick Hagen.

“Member amenities include coffee and tea, printing services, conference room and privacy pod access, and the ability to use the headquarters as their mailing address,” Noah Kaminsky says being able to use a separate address instead of their home address is vital for startups. “It’s very important, it helps ground them, it gives them legitimacy. They can have a meeting here, this is their space fully, so they can take 100% advantage of it. There’s also a sense of community and camaraderie that sets the stage for a supportive micro-business ecosystem.”

Campbell says that Build is also being very intentional in crafting the space as a nurturing one. “This is going to be a safe space for microentrepreneurs in the sense that they will see others working, both staff and other co-workers, who look like them” she says. “Individuals with ideas and microentrepreneurs need space to conduct business and/or community needs space to host events in a location with low cost, accessible parking, resources, diversity, and fun.”

Build’s focused and intentional space sets them apart. “We’re filling a gap by creating an intimate space for those people to feel safe enough to come and work on their ideas,” Corp says. “Or if they’re at the stage of business but don’t yet have a space of their own and need to get out of their house to be able to focus, and be productive, and collaborate, that’s the big gap we’re filling.”

Part of Build’s appeal is that the environment brings together budding entrepreneurs and more seasoned microentrepreneurs. Working alongside those who have gone through the same process to get their businesses up and running is invigorating and inspiring. It also gives seasoned microentrepreneurs an opportunity to mentor newer microentrepreneurs. 

“One way we support microentrepreneurs is by providing a supportive community, and that includes our Build Bench, full of subject matter experts. It includes people like accountants, attorneys, industry professionals, our financial coach, and our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, like Janae Griggs,” says Campbell.

Microentrepreneurs don’t always have 1:1 support, typically they go to friends and family to bounce ideas off of, who often lack expertise. 

“Ideas flourish here, and people are given the confidence to thrive and take those next steps,” Corp says. “At Build, one of our goals is that we educate and support our microentrepreneurs so that eventually, they can have the confidence and knowledge to go into spaces that might have intimidated them before and do business.”

The location of the headquarters also plays an integral part of this supportive ecosystem. Located in a budding Corktown, surrounded by new developments, there’s a type of synergy surrounding the headquarters. Kaminsky says the vibrant neighborhood of Corktown sets the stage for new ideas and businesses. “When I first moved to Corktown in 2013, there were a handful of anchor businesses that were drawing people to the area, but since then, there’s been a lot of exciting development that has filled in a lot of gaps both physically and in terms of services needed,” he says. 

Corp says there’s a real energy that’s palpable in Corktown, made in part by many local eclectic businesses like restaurants, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, skin spas, and more. “There’s a real entrepreneurial spirit when you come to Corktown, including several Build graduates with their own storefronts, and that’s what we hope to keep adding to,” she says. “You can’t come in here and not feel happy. We really want this to be a supportive, welcoming, fun space.”

On Thursday, April 27 from 3 to 7 p.m. Build is hosting a Super Hub Open House, which will provide the public with a sneak peek of the brand-new coworking space. Registration is available online. The free event includes food, entertainment, and networking opportunities. 

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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at [email protected].