Elon fosters creation of new entrepreneurship facility in Greensboro

Co//ab, a co-working facility for entrepreneurs and startup businesses, opened Nov. 17 in downtown Greensboro, one block from Elon Law, thanks to the combined efforts of the Greensboro Partnership Entrepreneur Connection, Action Greensboro, the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation and Elon University.

Steven D. House, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Elon University, presented remarks with Cecelia Thompson '05, director of Action Greensboro, at the grand opening of Co//ab, a co-working space for entrepreneurs and startups in downtown Greensboro.

Co//ab is part of a co-working movement that is growing rapidly around the world. Entrepreneurs, emerging businesses, freelancers and independent contractors will benefit from Co//ab’s multiuse, interactive environment. Co//ab will provide workstations, common spaces and gigabit-speed Internet access, and will encourage early-stage entrepreneurs, creative professionals and college students to work together in an urban community environment, sharing connections, ideas and best practices.

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Greensboro Partnership Chief Operating Officer Deborah Hooper led the opening of Co//ab in downtown Greensboro, Nov. 17.
“Elon University, the Bryan Foundation and the Greensboro Partnership have joined to create an innovative environment for entrepreneurs,” said Leo M. Lambert, Elon University President. “Thanks to the vision of Bryan Foundation President Jim Melvin and others, we are providing an incubator for creative business development that will foster a new kind of vitality in the Triad. We are excited that Elon Law’s focus on start-up businesses will help advance entrepreneurship in our community.”

Co//ab’s 4,800-square-foot collaborative space at 229 North Greene Street operates in a building purchased by Elon University in 2014 through a partnership with the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation. Elon refurbished the space with funds from the Bryan Foundation and is providing use of the facility at no charge. The space will house the Greensboro Partnership Entrepreneur Connection, the Triad Startup Lab accelerator program, Slam!, Pitch Preps, Strategy Scrubs and other initiatives. Elon Law students participating in the school’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic will provide legal assistance to many of the ventures advanced at Co//ab.

Co//ab, one block from Elon Law, will support early-stage entrepreneurs and creative professionals in the advancement of businesses. 
“We are really proud to have played a role in the creation of Co//ab,” said Steven D. House, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Elon University, at the Nov. 17 Co//ab opening. “Law school Dean Luke Bierman wants the school to be an innovative and creative hub for all of Greensboro, whether civic, economic or cultural, and that’s what this lab is all about. Elon Law Professor John Flynn and his team will have the law school’s business clinic at Co//ab, working with all of the entrepreneurs here, advancing what Elon is all about, creativity and innovation.”

In addition to remarks by House, the Nov. 17 grand opening included comments from Nancy Vaughan, Mayor of Greensboro; Deborah Hooper, Chief Operating Officer of the Greensboro Partnership; Cecelia Thompson, Director of the Greensboro Partnership’s Action Greensboro business unit; and Royster Tucker III, President and Chief Executive Officer of North State, the communications and information technology company supporting Co//ab by providing downtown Greensboro’s first gigabit internet connection at the facility.

Participants in Co//ab's grand opening, Nov. 17, from left, Steven D. House, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Elon University; Royster Tucker III, president and chief executive officer, North State; Nancy Vaughan, Mayor of Greensboro, N.C.; Luke Bierman, dean and professor of law, Elon Law; Cecelia Thompson, director, Action Greensboro; and, Deborah Hooper, chief operating officer, Greensboro Partnership. 
“I am extremely excited about the multiuse opportunities that this space presents and the partnership with Elon,” said Vaughan. “I am excited about the different things that are coming to downtown Greensboro and the ways that we can reach out to our young professionals to show them that Greensboro is a place to put down roots.”

“We are thrilled to see Co//ab open and ready to support Greensboro’s early stage entrepreneurs and higher education students,” said Hooper. “Co//ab represents a true collaborative community-based effort, and will be a great environment to help fuel the entrepreneurial and higher education spirit that exists in Greensboro. We thank Elon University, North State and our other community partners for their help in getting Co//ab launched.”

“The opening of Co//ab is a significant step forward in Greensboro’s thriving higher education and entrepreneurial presence,” said Thompson. “Elon University has been a true leader in helping to transform the vision for this space into reality, and North State and our other business partners are ensuring that Co//ab will be a success. It has taken a lot of partners to make this happen in a really short amount of time. I think we initially met with Elon in April and we said, do you like this project, and they said yes, run with it. So with their support we have moved aggressively to transform this space, providing an array of services and infrastructure to support all the entrepreneurial activity that will happen here.”

“By getting sharp minds together, the kinds of minds that come out of Elon and come out of our other universities, we are layering in a new vitality right here in downtown Greenbsoro,” said Tucker. “It’s going to be a very exciting decade and we’re very excited to be with all of you and Co//ab to help bring it together.”

More information about Co//ab is available here. To inquire about Co//ab membership and get further information, complete the Co//ab Membership Interest Survey here.

Bushra Farooqui L'15, who has gained national attention for work in the technology and entrepreneurship field, attended the Co//ab grand opening and provided analysis of its value.
Third-year Elon Law student Bushra Farooqui, who worked with the Triad StartUp Lab accelerator program this summer and was recently named one of the “fifty-five unknown rock stars in tech” by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen as reported in Business Insider, said Co//ab will benefit law students by engaging them in modern business practices.

“Projects like Co//ab are about nurturing, retaining and investing in our home-grown talents,” Farooqui said. “It’s about creating feedback loops between a generation that has already achieved success and a generation that is planting its first seeds. On a larger level, this initiative will be key in the revitalization of our beloved city and community. For a future lawyer, too often the term ‘entrepreneur’ is maligned and associated with reckless risk-taking. This is very simplistic thinking. The role of a lawyer is dynamic and evolving. Those who are ‘risk-intelligent’ rather than ‘risk-averse,’ who can ethically work hand-in-hand with entrepreneurs, will be seen as indispensable. This is a chance for law students to carry out their responsibility of sharing their budding professional privilege – whether offering legal help, learning about different industries and businesses, understanding and managing clients or offering to bounce ideas and problem-solve with another able mind. Most of all, students will be a part of making a meaningful difference in Greensboro and in the lives of the inspiring founders they will encounter.”

More information about Elon Law’s Small Business & Entrepreneurship Clinic is available here.


Prior reports about Elon’s support for entrepreneurship in Greensboro include:

StartUp Lab launches at Elon Law, June 17, 2013

Elon Law hosts entrepreneurial business forum, Aug. 21, 2013