Originally from Cleveland, Todd went away for college but decided to come back after graduation. While working in real estate, Todd was recruited to work for a medical tech startup company outside of Cleveland. He spent two years with them, continuing his own entrepreneurial real estate business on the side. However, Todd recognized there was not really a place for young entrepreneurs in Cleveland. There was no access to small amounts of capital. So, Todd decided to go out on a limb.
He rented two 10×10 offices in University Heights. Then, he went out to meet anyone and everyone who needed help growing their small business. People started showing up at their door looking for connections. This was the start of growing their community with things like events.
It is tough to work remotely. LaunchHouse is for entrepreneurs who want to be around like-minded people. It is about finding people that want to be in a sharing environment and talk to other people. The community is based on coming to one place everyday and being surrounded by the same people with new opportunities.
Coworking is good for growing businesses. The idea behind a coworking community gives the flexibility and ability to accommodate different sized businesses.
On the first “Whiteboard Wednesday” about 10 people came to pitch their ideas and give feedback to others. Todd realized it is not just about space or the capital you give to entrepreneurs, it is about the community you put around them that makes them successful. As more and more people came to them, LaunchHouse started taking over more offices. First, they took over an empty dental office that has not been used in over 30 years. They knocked down the wall and the community came in to help build it. However, that space was filled as well. LaunchHouse needed more. So, they bought a building that was going to be converted into a hotel. This building was open 24/7.
Eventually, LaunchHouse needed to find a new space. Todd heard about a car dealership that was going to be knocked down in his neighborhood of Shaker Heights. He went to the mayor with his idea of a coworking space for entrepreneurs that would help the city grow. With the mayor’s approval, they moved into the space in June 2011. The idea was really driven by the community. It was all about bringing the right people in together in one place and putting the right support around them. That is what makes a coworking community special.
When the City Takes Over
LaunchHouse stayed in that building for the next five years. When their lease was ending, they wanted to buy the building. However, the city of Shaker Heights wanted to take over the business. So, Todd decided to move. He knew it was not about the building. LaunchHouse held a town hall meeting that everyone showed up to. At the meeting, members expressed their support for LaunchHouse which gave Todd the confidence to sign a lease for a new location.
The new location started out with 8,000 square feet. 90% of community moved out into the new office. The city did not take the personal nature and bonds of a coworking community into account. Todd stopped making investments and really focused on the coworking aspect of his business. LaunchHouse is a community that brings people together into one place to start their business. The more you broaden your community, the more points you have to bring people in.
After such success, LaunchHouse had an opportunity to expand into the West side of Cleveland. Their reach currently extends across all of Cleveland with the goal of building a network of LaunchHouses so that members can use it as their home no matter where they are.