Spark This BusinessIncubator Ignites Tenant Dreams
From healthcare innovations to lifestyle products, new ventures in Northwest Louisiana are emerging from the shelter of business incubator Cohab.
Cohab members have flexible workspace for small groups and individuals, and rooms for meetings and events.
Cohab is a co-working space and entrepreneur accelerator in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana, where the incubator has assisted more than 200 member companies since launching in 2000. Located near the city’s revitalized riverfront, Cohab is a hub for startups, self-employed professionals and small business owners in various stages of development.
“Cohab provides a sense of community and collaboration for business owners,” says Executive Director John Grindley. “Our members interact with one another, find inspiration, build new networks and learn how to grow their businesses.”
Cohab members have 24-hour access to the facility, which includes flexible workspace for small groups and individuals, and rooms for meetings and events. Members choose a monthly rate package to fit their size and needs.
Fifty of Cohab’s members have graduated with success, including Twin Engine Labs, a software design and engineering firm; and Rhino Coffee, an independent coffee house, restaurant and entertainment venue.
“Our members interact with one another, find inspiration, build new networks and learn how to grow their businesses.”
Grindley says the Cohab culture pushes members to look beyond their own challenges as fledgling firms and to shift the lens to potential customers.
“When they concentrate on helping their markets solve a particular problem, it validates their ideas and why they’re in business in the first place,” he says.
Cohab connects members with regional CEOs, offers workshops on small business development and provides technical assistance on issues commonly faced by growing companies. Member Lee Mallahan III, whose company Tadpole Tape Cutter manufactures handheld tape-cutting instruments, says that belonging to Cohab was “like getting a business degree without going to college.”
Cohab worked with Shreveport healthcare manufacturer Innolyzer, who won the 2015 Louisiana Startup Prize—landing $25,000 in cash and access to a $100,000 loan.
Cohab helps businesses improve their chances of securing new capital. Shreveport craft beer maker Red River Brewing Company worked with Cohab’s team to sharpen a pitch to investors at a critical point in the brewery’s growth. Red River Brewing was able to attract $1.6 million in investor backing to support construction of a 23,000-square-foot taproom and production facility that will be the largest of any craft brewery in Louisiana.
Similarly, Cohab worked with Shreveport health-care manufacturer Innolyzer on simplifying investor pitches about its product, a chip that tests the presence of hydrogen sulfide levels with broad applications. The company won the 2015 Louisiana Startup Prize, landing $25,000 in cash, thousands more in services, and access to a $100,000 loan from Aneca Federal Credit Union.
By working at Cohab, members develop a network of colleagues. A culinary entrepreneur in need of food photos, for example, might connect with photographers. A tech startup might bump into a designer at a nearby workstation who can create a website and collateral materials.
“That’s where the magic happens,” says Grindley. “Collaboration and business development are naturally taking place.”