(Photo by Tony Abraham)
Last June, Start It Up Delaware relaunched Wilmington’s (and the state’s) first coworking space in its new location on Market Street. Boasting 5,300 square feet of both private offices and shared desks and community events, including meetups and coding workshops, coIN Loft has become the epicenter of the city’s innovation corridor.
As coIN members might tell you, the most invaluable benefit the space offers is the opportunity to collaborate with other members of Wilmington’s fledgling community of technologists, creatives and entrepreneurs — and everything in between.
Nick Matarese, president and creative director at creative branding agency The Barn, became a member back in June 2013, back when coIN was still located on 9th and Tatnall. Since the relaunch, Matarese and The Barn have collaborated with a plethora of other coIN members.
According to Matarese, John Meyer of FoolHardy Softworks is developing an upcoming medical organization app for one of his clients. John Himics, lead designer at First Ascent Design, is doing some redesigning of another client’s website. Matarese collaborated with Wilmington Design Co. founder Thomas Miller to rebrand American Lung Association’s Caesar Rodney Run, pro-bono. Plus Matarese said, Founders Films’ Matt Terrell made the “original connection between The Barn and Rukket Sports,” a returning client.
Cnverg cofounder John Kirk said there have been “too many” collaborations in the past year to list. The coIN Loft, he said, has “been at the heart of everything we’ve done in Delaware.” His startup has been splitting time between its home state and Philadelphia, but Kirk said the team has been excited to add new hires from Wilmington University and the University of Delaware.
Kirk did mention working with Foolhardy Softworks on “some changes to Cnverg earlier this year.” Additionally, he said, his startup has recently employed the services of itr8group cofounder Rory Laitila to scale Cnverg’s dev team.
Laitila has also been scaling the dev team at First Ascent. “Leveraging his knowledge has helped us grow much faster,” said Himics. He also credited Sarah Zero of Heart & Dash, who has been a “mentor to us and has kept us in the game during the ups and downs.” But there’s more.
According to founder Pauline Rubin, First Ascent is also collaborating with Miller to develop the website and print materials for 1313 Innovation’s fall event Tech2Gether (which, full disclosure, is a part of Delaware Innovation Week). And just last week, Himics worked on optimizing Carvertise’s page load speed.
Carvertise founding partner Greg Star said his startup has also worked with both Laitila and Meyer to improve their software development process. “On less official terms,” Star said, “people like Mona [Parikh], Matt Terrell and Cnverg have all been very helpful in providing advice and friendship while navigating this path.”
And as for the future? Members all have their own vision of what the “ideal” coIN Loft could be.
Matarese said he would like to see more creatives join the space, and for coIN to host more events connecting Wilmington’s notoriously large corporate businesses with the local entrepreneurial community.
“We need to connect these entrepreneurs with businesses in the area that will help them succeed,” he said. Kirk shares that sentiment.
“My ideal is vision of coIN is where the business community and local government wakes up and realizes it is the heart of the tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and finds a way to support it,” he said.
Star wants a more partnerships and collaboration with programmers from UD and the Philadelphia tech scene, as well as a “better system of mentors being involved and coming through coIN.”
Rubin said a little more mass would be nice.
“It would be an opportunity for everyone to talk about what we’re working on, exchange ideas, get feedback, etc.,” she said.
According to Himics, those partnerships and mass could come via improvements to organization within the space.
“Some structure and knowledge on who is accountable and responsible for what, and some security that the coIN Loft has a long and happy future would be awesome,” he said. “It is an invaluable resource to the community here in Wilmington, and Delaware.”
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