UNION can be likened to an Olympic Training Center. We provide EVERYTHING an aspiring, entrepreneurial maker needs to perfect and practice their creative talents, create and make their products, and conceptualize and launch their talents as a viable and vibrant business.
The Development Lab is a unique and key offering from UNION that put us leagues ahead of our competitors. This is a large part of UNION’s magic and what helps elevate us from a typical collaborative workspace. The Development Lab is a series of programs and offerings aimed at establishing and growing commercially viable endeavors.
The Development Lab is, ultimately, about making our members increasingly successful and will encompass everything an individual or organization needs to move from concept to success. Our research has shown that many maker and creative businesses struggle with moving from craft/hobby to commercially viable enterprise and nearly every start-up company requires a significant amount of mentorship, guidance, and support to thrive. By increasing the knowledge, resources, and support available to a highly diverse group of companies, we are amplifying their effectiveness and drastically increasing their chances of success. We also know supported companies are not only more likely to succeed, but are significantly more likely to set up shop in the community they are supported by. Resulting in attracting and retaining great talent and businesses in Ogden.
A team of UNION employees and mentors will be available throughout each week for individual consulting sessions. These sessions can cover a highly diverse range of topics from product design to business. Anything a member might need help with, we will have a mentor who can help. Mentors will come from our founders, our staff, our members and community professionals allowing us to provide relevant, timely support and guidance for our members.
Advanced Classes + Workshops
A variety of business-centric classes and hands-on workshops will be available to increase the knowledge and skill sets of our members. Several entry-level business classes and workshops will be housed within our general class schedule and will serve as a funnel into our more advanced business courses. These classes will provide the opportunity and guidance to conceptualize their business and determine what must take place for their concept to be viable (in terms of skills, resources, capital and capacity).
Early Stage is a month long program that walks participants through the beginning stages of developing and testing a concept. Early Stage includes: brainstorming, iterating, conducting initial user testing, assessing risk, testing commercial viability and generating success metrics. The Early Stage program helps participants get to the point they could start pitching their idea and/or move into the next stage of our Development Lab.
Fast Track Program
The Fast Track program lasts eight weeks and moves participants through the process of starting a company. During the Fast Track program, participants will develop a strong business plan filled with appropriate financial goals, branding and marketing initiatives, market definition and analysis as well as plans for fostering community support and capital resources. Content for this program is provided by The Kauffman Foundation and is delivered by our co-founder, Bob Gruhler who is a Kauffman Certified Trainer.
Incubation is for companies who have already developed a business plan and started working toward their goals. The program lasts six months and is a one-on-one intensive with periodic full group meetings, providing the perfect balance between personalized and community-based support. The Incubation Stage is designed to take a participant from plan to working prototype within six months.
Acceleration is the next logical step in developing our maker’s businesses. Members (Premium or Enterprise) may enter this program after completing the preceding endeavors or, if qualified, they may enter at this stage. Participants will learn everything they need to know about moving from start up to a more robust and commercially viable company. Success following the Acceleration Stage might vary from creating a self-sustaining business all the way to receiving venture funding or a buy-out opportunity.
Next Level Spaces
As we provide significant resources and business support to members, we will certainly see our members grow too large for our initial space. Graduating members beyond our space is a huge measure of success for UNION, and as a result we intend to develop a series of Next Level spaces throughout the city. These spaces will provide subsidized rent and access to crucial infrastructure to assist our graduating members as they leave the physical UNION nest. These spaces will be designed to support far smaller population sizes of two to ten members and will possess more specialized equipment tailored to the needs of the occupying members. Many of our Management Lab partners will occupy offices within these Next Level spaces, making them available and in-tune with the day-to-day needs of our largest members. These next level spaces are critical to making the UNION model reach its full capacity, because it affords us the ability to grow/develop larger companies and retain them as customers.
The Management Lab is a highly innovative approach to facilitating the growth of successful businesses. In close partnership with Weber State University this program matches UNION’S start-up and developing companies with recently graduated or soon to graduate business students on a level that goes far beyond consulting and mentorship. These business experts actually partner with our maker businesses!
This provides pathways toward acquiring the strong, experienced business management skills and instincts that all new businesses are lacking. Thus our creative makers are able to spend almost all of their time doing what they are passionate about and what drives their business to be successful.