Entrepreneurial Time Share in Middletown
In a half-dozen airy rooms filled with light, but even more so with ideas, lawyers meet designers, artists meet people in the life sciences and self-starters solve business problems using group dynamics.
Welcome to the second floor at 82 Valley Road, Middletown, where Josh Furtado, who grew up in Jamestown, is CEO of Towerhill Associates and has launched his newest business venture, Spire Space. It is a comfortable array of rooms where people from specific walks of life sign on to exchange divergent ideas with different thinkers that will help run their business.
Spire Space (some call it “Aspire” Space) is located one floor above Furtado’s Towerhill, a think tank that offers recruiting and business solutions for the clean-tech, hightech and life science industries. Furtado and his brother, Jared, founded Towerhill in 2008.
“We are not known locally,” Furtado said. “We say we are better known in Silicon Valley than in Rhode Island.”
Spire Space is Furtado’s attempt to engage and assist area entrepreneurs who are looking for support in the ever-changing business world. “We are playing with different ideas, incubators getting off the ground to start something local,” he said.
“The idea was not to assume what the demand is, but to keep it open to see who will come. See what the need is and adjust to that need.”
Start-up entrepreneurs – or those hoping to change how they do business or are just seeking fresh ideas – may rent space by the hour or the day. At Spire, they can view their staid or stagnant plans from a different perspective, one they might not have considered on their own.
“This is for someone who might be tired of working from home or no longer wants to meet clients in a coffee shop,” Furtado said. “We can be a solution to that. We have the physical office space, the whiteboard, free parking, coffee and tea. What we are really excited about is creating a sense of community and letting members start developing cultures on their own.”
Recently, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Newport hosted its first annual “smART Bar.” It provided artists, business owners, nonprofit employees and the general public a chance to meet with experts from a variety of fields and, without cost, ask questions, pick brains and find answers to thorny issues.
Guests went from room to room in 20-minute increments to discuss dilemmas and glean ideas from professionals in a wide range of disciplines, such as communications, marketing, social media, strategic planning, grant writing and administration.
Cindy Killavey of Portsmouth, a local actor, storyteller and voice talent, was there seeking copyright information.
"Why wouldn't I come and find out from knowledgeable people at no cost to me? I had copyright questions and was looking to find new books to record that are in the public domain,” she said
Killavey and her husband, James, founded Jim-Cin Recordings in 1996.
“There will be ancillary benefits once we get moving,” Furtado said. “It is really an exciting opportunity for collaboration with people who you would not gain access to otherwise.”
Rates range from $75 for a five-day pass (five days a month of shared space, five hours of meeting space), $140 for a part-time pass (10 days of shared space, 10 hours of meeting time); and $195 for a full-time pass. Each pass includes business class Wi-Fi, parking, printing and coffee. Part- and full-timers also have access to Spire Space events and business mailings. Access and bookings are available online. Membership is free.
“People are looking for flexibility. No commitments. No long-term leases. Just to stop and start as they please. To book an hour here or there in a conference room,” Furtado said. “I have already made so many local connections that I have never made before.”