Atlanta Co-working Space Seeks To Accelerate Minority Startups

Targeting Atlanta-based entrepreneurs, Opportunity Hub is launching an 8-week long incubator in November targeted at startups and corporate professionals who want to learn how to launch a business right the first time. Developed by experienced entrepreneurs and angel investors, Accelerate @ OHub, dramatically shortens the path from business idea to business formation.

Each week a seasoned entrepreneur will spend two hours guiding teams through a proven method to help minimize risk associated with their idea and to develop experiments that accelerate company development. The program also is aimed at corporate professionals looking to pivot from corporate America into entrepreneurship. But it is not intended for entrepreneurs with an existing product unless they are looking to totally revamp. The class is designed for the discovery phase, which should occur before building a product. Teams that are further along tend to focus on validation and fail in this class.

Acceleratre @ OHub is an intensive weekly program, with a minimum commitment of eight 2-hour sessions. The price point is $1,000 a month (half price for Opportunity Hub members), with a two month minimum commitment. After completing the program, entrepreneurs will have identified the core of their business model, customer segment and value proposition (also known as product-market fit). Participants also will get to test their vision in front of customers.

Opportunity Hub is a fast growing multicampus co-working space, knowledge hub and accelerator. It aims at fostering entrepreneurship among minority and underserved communities. Opportunity Hub’s mission is to conceive, launch, grow and scale wealth creating startups by providing access to collaborative work spaces, mentorship, innovative practices, essential resources, divine connections and affordable capital.

Entrepreneurship centers such as Opportunity HUB are developments that are a cross between business coaching and mentoring services, and co-working spaces that lease a desk or meeting room.

Launched in 2013, Opportunity HUB aims to grow the next generation of consumer products, supply chain innovation, and technology services startups. “We are serving a population of people that haven’t been exposed, nor educated on how to engage with today’s startup ecosystem,” says Rodney Sampson, Opportunity Hub’s co-founder and CEO. “For instance, when it comes to raising capital, most only know the SBA or what they see on ABC’s Shark Tank TV Show.”

Sampson, an angel investor, author of Kingonomics, and Executive In Charge of Diversity and Include for Shark Tank and One Three Media, describes Opportunity Hub as the authentic diversity inclusion arm of Atlanta’s startup ecosystem. In the past five to six years, college level jobs have pretty much gone away, he says. It’s disproportionately worse for in minority and underserved populations. The barrier to entrepreneurship is higher for minorities. Access to capital is harder and so too is access to educational and technical skills.

Opportunity Hub leased 17,300 square feet of office space and entered in a joint venture with builder, developer, and philanthropist H.J. Russell for 4,300 square feet of co-working space on the campus of Paschal’s restaurant and hotel near the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Opportunity Hub offers programming around business basics such as a customer discovery, business model development, startup structure, fundraising and learning to invest. The curriculum is delivered via weekly classes and multi-month classes taught by a network of 100 mentors, who include entrepreneurs, executives, investors, and industry experts such as patent attorneys.

It is financed through a membership model. Aspiring entrepreneurs pay to work out of the incubator with dues ranging from $200 per month for a first come first served desk to up to $1,000 month for a dedicated office suite and for access to mentors who hold open office hours. Members pay a premium for more hands-on coaching.

Opportunity Hub attracts students and recent graduates, and corporate professionals who work a day job but want to start a business on the side. “We are also targeting established companies who are supplier contractors that want to learn to be angel investors or how to differentiate their company by adding innovation to it,” adds Sampson. He hopes that in the long term, local governments and universities will connect with Opportunity Hub to launch local co-working spaces and accelerators.