Co|Operative #005: Why? Part 1 | What We See

The first rule in a business is “find product-market fit”. There are entire schools of thought behind lean startup, MVP, and the like that revolve around this simple fact.

The other side of that coin is sometimes people don’t know what they want until you show it to them (a la Steve Jobs).


But what about when your “business” is to effectively create a change of mindset?


So we flipped the question to “What”:

  • What do I see about my community that’s wonderful and encouraging.
  • What do I want my community to look like in 2 or 5 years?
  • What are we missing the mark on to make the present reality look more like the rose-colored future in my head?

Obviously the number of thoughts thrown against the wall on those questions ran the gamut. But a common theme started to run through the answers…especially to those last 2 questions. I want to see people who have always wanted to start a new business to have the opportunity if they are serious about it.


I want those same people to have a higher chance of success than what I see right now.

Co-working space in Graham, NC, for creatives and small business owners around Alamance County.

I want to see businesses that create not just jobs, but a culture of progress and innovation along with them. I want to see ideas take root and grow into places that I would want to visit, or would be proud of when I talked to someone in Raleigh and they immediately say “oh, isn’t that where such-and-such is at? That’s an amazing place/product/company.”

So that’s the initial answer to, "why?," when I speak to others lately.This is what I see when I look around.

I see opportunities.

I see a generation just a little bit younger than me that doesn’t play by the original rules, and want to make their passion their livelihood. (But make no mistake, that attitude absolutely exceeds any age range — some of the most innovative people I know are close to millennials only in that it's their kids generation).

I see that expectations of what defines “success” to many is shifting from how much you make, where you live or what you drive to what you DO. Not the old “What’s your job title”, but a more sincere “What do you do?” More appropriately, what do you do that fires you up, that gets you to wake up with not enough sleep because it really matters to you. What’s the thing you’re spending sleepless nights obsessing over creating, changing or building?

I see obstacles too, sure. We could talk all day about those. We aren’t in a trendy area attracting all those movers and shakers. No VC fund has ever been here unless driving through on the interstate, or because they got lost. We don’t have (at the moment) a really strong innovation effort backed by both local government and local businesses as a whole.

But the opportunities are undeniable.

Another rule of business is timing. Timing is EVERYTHING. A great idea at the wrong time can fail. A half-baked idea at the right moment can become something amazing. We think that the timing is right to change that mindset, to create those rose-colored new businesses, to begin that culture and community we want.

So that is really the true WHY to Co|Operative. Because we see opportunity where others don’t. 


Ariana Watts

Silver Feather Studios, Burlington, NC, 27217, United States