Co|Operative #006: Why? Part II | What We Need

My favorite current mantra is from a great writer on Medium named Yann Girard on Be One Of Those.


"Be one of those people who talk about the stuff they want to do all the time and then they just do it."


I’ve repeated that line in my head and to others so much lately they probably think I’ve developed a tic.

Image by Jeff Sheldon.

Image by Jeff Sheldon.

The initial idea of Co|Operative “jello’d” as I was 3 months into a 6 month non-stop self education campaign. I’d closed one of my businesses and had a serious case of so-now-what syndrome.


To get outside my own head I was determined to find three new people every week I could meet with, all outside my traditional circles. Not a conference call;  physically sitting down in front of another human, over coffee or lunch, and just learning about something I didn’t know. I had an idea of what I was good at (and not good at), what I enjoyed, a lot of ideas for my next project, and an equal amount of indecisiveness.


I met with a menagerie of people. From the tech world I met with startup founders, VCs, VCs-turned-founders. With people who had started amazing businesses and sold them, sometimes multiple times. With business owners across the spectrum. With faculty at local universities. With artists and creatives of all stripes. With community-focused connectors who were passionate about any variety of topics.


If you answered your email and agreed to meet, we sat down and talked.


A running theme developed. While these people all had different outlooks, came from different backgrounds and different businesses, their feedback largely centered around giving people a place.

Image by Alejandro Escamilla.

Image by Alejandro Escamilla.


People Need A Place

A place where they can experiment, expanding their knowledge and experience.


A place where they can be surrounded by people who share common problems, common goals, and a sense of “we can do this better”.


But after the place, some more needs come up. One is access to mentors and that help expand their viewpoints outside their personal experience, that provide a little more kindling to their own fire.


Another is the framework to make good decisions, quickly. Not everyone is cut out to run a business. It’s the closest thing to having kids and I use that analogy a lot talking to budding would-be entrepreneurs. For some, it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t really their passion, or not enough so to give up their stable life for the chance. For others, (the smart ones) they quickly realize they need a co-founder or two who offsets their weaknesses.

Next, they need an environment that fosters innovation, an ecosystem that’s less toxic and just flat out lonely than the one most small businesses start in.


Last — they need to be given the opportunity to build their own fort (thanks to Chris Heivly for that example) and prove they have the determination and personality to assemble the team, the capital, and the other resources needed to go forward.


Once all those click — it’s time to lock in and get to the real work of creating a real business; the stuff others are scared of and that I get almost giddy with excitement thinking about.


Our goal is to provide people first with that place. Then with the tools and a community that supports the creation of businesses.


What We Need

First, we need members, plain and simple.


One of our earliest posts made the point that the “space” will ultimately be created by the “people”. We have a small group of passionate founding members, and some spectacular local friends of Co|Operative’s goals and ideals. But we need more of both to build a tribe with.


We also need to begin pushing for improvements to the local environment for entrepreneurs. To begin creating a dialogue on how local government action and policy can help businesses start here, and remain here. How the community as a whole can foster the idea that innovation and progress aren't only something we see to our east and west. 


We need to begin viewing cooperation between established business and new businesses as a matter of fact, not an exception to the norm. Most importantly - we need to create a change in mindset, locally, to become one of those. One of those communities that talks about what they want to do. And then, they just do it.

Till next time,


Ariana Watts

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