This fall the Greensboro community welcomed a new organization called ThinkHouse U. The brainchild of Christopher Gergen, Jason Widen and their group, Forward Impact, ThinkHouse U is an opportunity for young entrepreneurs in the Greensboro area.
The program is available to students who are entering their sophomore year or older with an idea for a business plan they want to capitalize on. Occupants in the house applied to be in the program at the beginning of the summer.
The application required answers to a series of questions based on their ideas for the future and their long lasting goals. The applicants had to be serious about their ideas and demonstrate a clear business plan. Out of the many students who applied there were eight chosen to be a part of the inaugural program, and they plan on nothing but success to come from it.
These eight individuals will live in one house that is designed to stimulate their minds and allow to work as a team and develop their ideas. The members include: Wes Rowe, Simon Komlos, Spencer Schneier* , Gordon Holliday, Donnie Hill, Caleb Crawley, Stephanie McGill and Tarayjah Hoey.
The house has been completely renovated for these students with a spacious, modern layout. A resident shared construction did decide to keep the original hardwood floors to give a somewhat rustic feel to the house.
Originally, the house was styled like a duplex with a wall dividing the two spaces, but that wall was removed for the students to be able to engage more. The house came fully furnished and there are plans to incorporate a park next to the house.
The ThinkHouse provides residents with free membership to the HQ Greensboro workspace to better organize their ideas for the future and connect with the entrepreneurial community. The house is also designed to offer numerous resources and networking opportunities. Gordon Holliday, UNC-Greensboro student and current resident, expressed his satisfaction with the outcomes so far and mentioned the benefits of every student having an entrepreneurship mentor.
Juggling all challenges faced with being a full-time student and building a dream from the ground up can be challenging, so residents say the mentor aspect is extremely helpful to them. All residents are assigned mentors as part of the N.C. Entrepreneurship Center’s GEMS Mentor program.
Holliday plans on starting his own fashion line and he expects the ThinkHouse to help him sharpen his target audience. So far, he has created a website from scratch to advertise his clothes and he has sold many of his pieces around the community.
He also said that having a mentor around constantly provides him with the guidance he needs to stay focused on what matters.
Wes Rowe, N.C. A&T student and ThinkHouse resident, is also an aspiring fashion designer but says “there is no competition in the house and there is nothing but love.” He says they encourage each other and share ideas.
Rowe has high hopes for the future of his couture clothing line. He expressed that all the residents have extraordinary dreams and they deserve this chance to help them come true.
Rowe says they will make acquaintances with important people they otherwise wouldn’t meet, and that it will be a vital part of their success.
The students anticipate challenges with this workload and possibly maintaining a social life, but they are confident they have made the right choice to be there and succeeding will be worth the sacrifice.
The collaborative environment includes students in all different fields and encourages them to incorporate their ideas into others’ plans and thoughts. Simon Komlos, a software developer, has already created two products that have over 19,000 active users, and he plans to increase the growth of his inventions.
His success is inspiring to his housemates, as theirs is to him, and he foresees the house giving him the opportunity to monetize his audience and expand his software.
The hope is that the collaboration between these students will inspire other cities and regions to set up similar organizations like this to help shape young college students’ dreams.
The residents say they all plan to use the ThinkHouse resources to promote their businesses and increase awareness.
The students of the house currently predict that the ThinkHouse will expand exponentially and provide opportunities to more students in the future.