Idea Works has recently partnered with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) by giving each of their students the ability to use the co-working space at 40 W. Fourth Street in downtown Mansfield.
YEA! is a 25-week course where middle and high school students from across Richland County meet on a weekly basis to learn how to start and run their very own real business. During the course, students are assisted in developing a business idea, creating a business plan, a pitch, and finally launching that business at the end of the program.
As the course progresses, YEA! brings in mentors for the students, instructors, guest speakers, and takes field trips throughout the area for inspiration. In December of 2017, one of those field trips included Idea Works.
"I have been lucky enough to learn all about Idea Works, the reason we have it in Mansfield, and why our community needs it," said Nikki Lewis, Foundation Manager at the Mansfield Richland Area Educational Foundation. "Unfortunately, not everyone has that same insight, so I wanted to show the students a cool and new concept for our community."
Lewis went into the trip at Idea Works with bigger things in mind as well. "My goal was to get Idea Works to become one of our sponsors for the program and maybe offer free space to one student of their choice at the Investor Panel on April 11." The ensuing partnership between YEA! and Idea Works was more than she could have imagined.
Starting December of 2017, every YEA! student has been given access to use the space at Idea Works as they build and launch their own businesses.
"The express purpose of Idea Works is to be a place where plans come together for entrepreneurs," said Jay Allred, President of Idea Works. "After the kids and mentors with YEA! toured our space, I could immediately see how the partnership might help them connect with one another and experience a modern co-working environment that could amplify their ideas and make them better."
YEA!'s access to Idea Works will remain available into August of 2018 and provide the students with valuable space to meet mentors, other business people, and work on their plan.
"We'll provide the YEA! cohort with full-access backpack memberships, and their mentors will have access to the facility 24/7, so they can meet with the students on weekends or after normal business hours," Allred said. "We want the students to have the full benefit of working at Idea Works and meeting the entrepreneurs that already call it home."
"Being able to set up at one of the desks at Idea Works and have a place where they can get away from normal teenage distractions will be wonderful for them," Lewis said. "Then, also having the ability to lean on other entrepreneurs who come through the space will be a great learning experience for these students."