(Part 5 of a bigger article. Click here to start at the beginning.)
Adam Krynicki, executive director of the OSU-Cascades Innovation Co-Lab, loves to “nerd out” on the kind of roadblocks that give entrepreneurs headaches. Before joining OSU-Cascades in 2017, Krynicki co-founded Launch Alaska, a startup accelerator that helps fund and train high-tech entrepreneurs. At the Innovation Co-Lab on Columbia Street in Bend, entrepreneurs who sign up as members pay a monthly rent for workspace, plus access to answers and much-needed resources. There, Krynicki offers one-on-one coaching and teaches workshops to the incubator’s 35 members, plus a few OSU-Cascades students with startups of their own who get free membership.
What do you do for entrepreneurs at the Innovation Co-Lab?
We provide coaching and intense learning sessions — we provide education for people who are launching new companies and nonprofits. The things that we focus on are how to get investment, where to make sales and how to manage the risk of an early-stage startup.
Why did you want to start this type of incubator in Bend?
It’s about taking the first step to helping businesses and nonprofits. An incubator was the right fit at the right time for the community and it provides a platform for us to grow into an accelerator program.
It’s also the foundation for another part of our program, which we just formally announced August 6. It’s called Students for Startups and the idea is that we want students working on projects with the startups and nonprofits that we create, giving them real-world experience, building their resume and discovering the jobs that they might want to do someday.
Who is the Co-Lab open to?
Anybody in the community.
Why not a program or grant – why a space?
Programs are not customized to you. There’s a template, there’s a format, it’s a lecture. And that’s much different than somebody sitting down with you and going through your individual business plan… Just having someone to bounce ideas off of is a big deal.
What’s your vision for the Co-Lab?
We are launching a more formal mentorship program, for example, we can have an online component, so that you can get anonymous feedback from mentors. -Kailey Fisicaro
Talena Barker may pause when asked for her business card. Which one should she hand over? As co-founder of BendX, founder and CEO of Mission Limelight and the Bend Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for leadership development, Barker may be better off giving out one card that says “entrepreneur and community catalyst.” Barker runs Bend Chamber programs that offer leadership training, mentorship, networking and more. And her background in nonprofit work led her to start Mission Limelight, a company that helps nonprofits raise more money. We chatted with Barker about her most recent venture, BendX, a bootcamp for female entrepreneurs.
You’re an entrepreneur, like the women you support through BendX. What made you risk starting Mission Limelight?
I get so excited by problem solving. And that’s what we’re doing here at the chamber too, where other people see barriers, we see opportunities.
BendX offers a six-week program of courses to provide entrepreneurial education, advice and mentorship. Was that something that was missing for you when you switched careers?
I had to look to Portland to get this. And it’s not that there aren’t great resources here, there just wasn’t a comprehensive training program. In that process I found that there is something kind of special when you’re talking about being an entrepreneur about having an all-female environment.
How do you see BendX making an impact in the Bend community?
For [co-founder Christine Callahan] and I, we would love if successive cohorts continue to carry BendX forward. It doesn’t have to be run by us. It could be that we always advise and be a part of it, but to have it be self-supported by the community would be really cool for us. Bend is growing and changing and thriving, and just ensuring that women’s vision for business is a part of the growing, changing Bend community is important. We need that diversity of thought and diversity of perspective in our community, and just for every successful female business that’s out there, there’s a ripple effect. They go on to solve problems and hire people and have an impact not just here but all over. -Kailey Fisicaro