Start It Up Delaware unveils newly renovated 'Loft' coworking space - Technical.ly Delaware

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Jun. 24, 2014 4:13 pm

Start It Up Delaware unveils newly renovated ‘Loft’ coworking space

Launched 18 months ago with $250,000 in state economic development money, Start It Up Delaware (SIUD) unveiled Monday night its broad vision for catalyzing a tech entrepreneurship class for Delaware.

(Photo by Christopher Wink)

Full Disclosure: Monday's event was co-organized by Technical.ly and served as Technical.ly Delaware's soft launch. Additionally, Start It Up Delaware is a founding sponsor of Technical.ly Delaware and our lead reporter will work out of the coworking space.

Launched 18 months ago with $250,000 in state economic development money, Start It Up Delaware (SIUD) unveiled Monday night its broad vision for catalyzing a tech entrepreneurship class for Delaware.

In its sleek new space, the group did it in style.

So far, SIUD has worked to both consolidate existing efforts to boost the state’s tech scene and launch new initiatives. The organization is led by its board and managing director Mona Parikh, the energetic young lawyer turned Wilmington startup scene Mother Hen.

Monday night’s launch party was a co-organized event that also served as, full disclosure, the soft launch of this news site, Technical.ly Delaware.

SIUD’s newly renovated Wilmington coworking space was crowded with more than 200 people — a mix of entrepreneurs, policy, government and economic development leaders and the service providers who follow them.

Between beer, champagne and appetizers from waiters, Gov. Jack Markell, Parikh and others addressed the crowd about organizational strategy, including a new SIUD brand and design concept.

“There are a lot of faces in the crowd I don’t know,” said Markell. “That’s good because it means more are joining [this statewide] conversation.”

Here are the broad efforts that SIUD will fit into its mission, according to various representatives during last night’s event:

  1. The Loft coworking space — Formerly the coIN Loft, the space was launched in 2010 by three Wilmington technologists. In December 2012 it moved into new digs on Market Street. Last summer SIUD took over the lease. Now the completely renovated 5,300 sq. ft. space houses small, private offices, as well as spots for shared desks. It’s already a core community of technologists and entrepreneurs in Wilmington and the renovation will allow for even more independents seeking a collaborative work environment, said Parikh.
  2. Events — Under the SIUD brand, Parikh (the group’s lone full-time employee) has taken over leadership of organizing the monthly Delaware Tech Meetup and semi-annual Startup Weekend Delaware. She has also helped support other convenings of technologists, creatives and entrepreneurs.
  3. Nurturator — Announced Monday night and led by SIUD board member Jon Brilliant, a well-connected networker in the space, this still-developing program will start in partnership with Christiana Care Health System. The program aims to have the structure of an accelerator but with longer-term support offerings as well. Housed at the Loft, SIUD, under Brilliant’s guidance, will receive and connect entrepreneurs to trial products and services within the Delaware healthcare giant’s portfolio.

What’s next? SIUD will be adding members to its paid coworking community and will grow its roster of paid classes, both to grow its network and to develop a sustainability strategy, buoyed by corporate sponsorship, said Parikh.

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The challenge in that will be like in any community newly wrestling with entrepreneurship priorities: How big is that audience now and how challenging will it be to add more to its pipeline?

Markell’s mission for SIUD is to become something of an entry point to expose and broaden the state’s entrepreneurial base, beginning by using their Wilmington base as an example.

To ready its population, Parikh also said one of her goals was to improve the storytelling and information sharing on the tech entrepreneurship and broad innovation economy in Delaware, which she said was her hope for this news site.

“A lot of the pieces are here for Delaware [tech entrepreneurship],” said Parikh. “Now it’s whether we’re ready for prime time.”

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. In that capacity, he is a co-organizer of Philly Tech Week, Baltimore Innovation Week, Delaware Innovation Week and other events that bring smart people together. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here and curates a personal monthly newsletter of ideas and links here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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