INDIANAPOLIS — Inside the Speak Easy, a co-working space in Midtown, you'll find a community of entrepreneurs.
"Your first customer might be in here, your co-founder might be in here," Chelsea Marburger, The Speak Easy's Executive Director said. "We basically offer four walls, a floor, a door and great WiFi."
Members from several different industries use the co-working space.
"We see that people are wanting to get back in, even if it's just running into each other over coffee, or sitting across from each other, working on totally separate projects at a table. We're human beings — we crave that community connection," Marburger said.
Soon, the space will be utilized by entrepreneurs using the Indy Biz Pass.
"The Indy Biz Pass will help me tremendously," Shaneeka Abram said.
After getting laid off twice from her marketing job during the pandemic, Abram now runs her own branding and social media marketing business.
"One of the main challenges that I faced was actually finding a place to meet with my clients," Abram said.
The Indy Biz Pass will give 100 entrepreneurs access to three co-working spaces for an entire year: The Speak Easy, P30 and Nexus Impact Center.
"I think it's an amazing opportunity for us because there are several co-working spaces out there and their rates are a little bit high for businesses that are just starting out," Abram said.
Innopower and Sagamore Institute will offer the Indy Biz Pass annually. The program is funded by a Lilly Endowment grant awarded to the Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative. Members spent 6 months asking black business owners what they need to be successful.
"One of the key points or takeaways from the research was the need for space," Emil Ekiyor, Innopower CEO said. "Data also shows that eight out of 10 black businesses close 16 months after their start, that's national data. So we looked at that and said, how do we create an environment that will help those businesses?"
After a year, leaders hope entrepreneurs using the Indy Biz Pass are able to grow their businesses and pay for their own co-working membership, so 100 more business owners can take part.
"It's about meeting people where they are as human beings and figuring out what they need to be successful," Marburger said.