Case Study #3
How might we support locally based entrepreneurs to drive economic development, social mobility and equity?
Stanislaus County is less than 100 miles from Silicon Valley, the center of the entrepreneurial universe. A design team wanted to understand what entrepreneurs in the County, especially those who were emerging from less resourced neighborhoods far from Modesto’s business district downtown, needed to grow successful businesses.
As an experiment, they hosted a pop-up co-working space in the basement of a church in South Modesto, a chronically under resourced part of the County. They remade the entire space with new furniture, rugs, plants, etc. so that it no longer resembled the church’s spare room. They then invited entrepreneurs from the neighborhood to attend a full day of co-working with their peers with the option for free coaching from local business coaches. Twenty local entrepreneurs participated in the co-working day.
The team was amazed to discover just how many local part-time entrepreneurs exist in the community. It was not hard to find entrepreneurs in the neighborhood; many of whom are running business in addition to their day jobs. This experiment confirmed the need for coaching and peer support outside of traditional business pipelines. It also indicated that there is a sidelining of entrepreneurs in the County along geographic and racial lines — and that these entrepreneurs need opportunities closer to home to move their work forward.
The team is now running another experiment hosting entrepreneurs in “co-working” spaces donated by local churches. Currently, four entrepreneurs are being hosted.