The Flashstarts business accelerator and venture fund recently moved from Playhouse Square to a much larger location in Terminal Tower for two basic reasons, says cofounder Charles Stack.
The first reason was to make it easier for startup companies to find stable office space. The second was to condense newbie entrepreneurial efforts into StartMart, a single, highly energetic nucleus where water cooler moments can foster new ideas and economic growth.
This concept of "engineered serendipity" began May 16th when Flashstarts, which provides coaching, funds and other resources to new companies that participate in a 12-week program, left for its new 30,000-square-foot headquarters on Public Square, a space six times larger than its previous office.
"I've been doing this for 30 years, and I've never been more optimistic about startups having the opportunity to turn this region into a powerhouse," says Stack, who began planning StartMart with fellow Flashstarts founder Jennifer Neundorfer last spring. "This move is a small step in that direction."
Flashstarts itself will be the hub's first official tenant in the lead-up to a public launch in September. Over the summer, the accelerator will engage the community for feedback on StartMart's design and begin identifying and communicating with potential members. Though the group's focus is on use of software and technology, Stack expects a diverse range of occupants to fill the space.
"It's wide open to anyone who wants to join," he says.
Participants will work in a flexible space where privacy is an option even as collaboration is encouraged. Ultimately, StartMart will stand as a focal point for large-scale innovation.
"We want this to be a global center for startups," says Stack. "Cleveland can be a great home base (for small businesses), and we need to play up that strength."