Starting your own business is a great thing, perhaps the greatest of things, and thanks to a bevy of local resources it has become more approachable.
Local non-profit, Urban Engine, opened its doors in 2016 and has made “start-up” a household phrase in the Rocket City, thanks to Executive Director, Toni Eberhart. Eberhart, who has led this effort alongside a dedicated group of volunteers and Executive Board, has fuelled the entrepreneurial social scene with in-depth educational programming that has garnered immense growth over the past 2 years. That, coupled with ongoing, collaborative work environments courtesy of UE, has resulted in an enormous audience seeking to make their professional dreams a reality.
The entrepreneurial incubator is best known for its social functions, averaging about 100 attendees per event with a membership base over 2,000 individuals. “Urban Engine’s CoWorking Night and 32/10 are what we’re most known for right now,” said Eberhart.
“We host CoWorking night every Wednesday from 6:00pm to 10:00pm at Huntsville West, and as always, is completely free for anyone with an interest in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology to attend. The ongoing success has garnered heavy involvement from the region’s top entrepreneurs, such as Brandon Kruse, Amanda Howard, Andy Smith, Glenn Clayton and many more. 32/10 is a twice-a-month speaker series where entrepreneurs will offer thought leadership and delve deep into some of the most talked-about case studies in the news,” said Eberhart.
Who will you see at these events?
“Our primary demographic is age 24-35, but what’s always consistent among our members is having a common mindset and entrepreneurial spirit. Our members and attendees are made up of anyone who is interested in starting a business, is in the process of starting a business, or has already started one,” said Eberhart.
The non-profit also hosts a variety of what Eberhart calls “high impact” events, which are geared towards connecting local businesses and entrepreneurs in marketing and technology competitions
“Our high impact events enable local organizations to foster a spirit of innovation and allow them to identify and collaborate with top-notch talent enabling them to overcome challenges.” said Eberhart. . “We were thrilled to host the first ever NASA Space Apps Challenge along with the HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge, which were both very successful in solving our community partners’ challenges and accelerating the creation of technology startups in our community. Additionally, Urban Engine conducts sprint software design competitions, 4 Hours to Product, which follows a similar premise and is held quarterly during CoWorking Night.. ” said Eberhart.
Eberhart and her team are continuing to develop wildly-new concepts and interactive events as the non-profit expands its footprint and as the membership base continues to grow.
What’s on the horizon for Urban Engine?
“Open-Huntsville is currently gaining a lot of traction and will enable like-minded individuals to easily seek out others who are looking to team up on exciting projects - think LinkedIn for Huntsville, but with a more collaborative feel,” said Eberhart.
“In addition, we will be celebrating CoWorking Night’s three year anniversary on Wednesday, April 11, where we’ll be making a big announcement about a new partnership with a globally recognized brand that will yield unprecedented opportunity for both the startup circuit as well as the private and defense industries, which Huntsville is so well known for. We’re inviting anyone who’s interested in expanding or transitioning their business into the commercial market to attend, as we will kick off registration and announce full details during CoWorking Night.”
As Urban Engine continues to attract new members, expand its program offerings and provide collaborative events that help propel ideas forward, people can expect to see the non-profit open in other cities. Currently, the non-profit is active in both Huntsville and Birmingham. Eberhart says they plan to introduce programming to several new cities in the next few years.
To learn more about Urban Engine, visit them online at https://www.urbanengine.org.
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