The vision for what has become the nation’s
#1 co-working space began with the introduction of some passionate local entrepreneurs in ICA’s Business Institute, who discovered they shared a desire to create the first entrepreneurial community space focused on innovative economic solutions and radical inclusivity.
Impact Hub Oakland’s founding team, led by Konda Mason, Ashara Ekundayo, and Lisa Chacon, has ensured that these themes are reflected throughout their business.
After attracting hundreds of committed supporters, launching a successful crowdfunding campaign, and testing the model through a pop-up location, Konda, Ashara, and Lisa still faced one major challenge: accessing capital. The founders had some angel investor support, but no banks would commit to providing the start-up funds necessary to transform a cavernous vacant former car dealership on Oakland’s auto row into a co-working space, business incubator, and event venue. That’s when the founders turned to ICA and Fund Good Jobs to prepare for and secure start-up capital.
The ICA and Fund Good Jobs teams were drawn to the potential that such a space would have for local entrepreneurship and ultimately, for creating good jobs. Thus began a rigorous process of preparation and due diligence. Ultimately, Fund Good Jobs served as the lead investor and rallied other funders to raise the funds needed to bring the vision of Impact Hub Oakland to life. “Fund Good Jobs filled the gap where other lenders wouldn’t tread,” Konda says.
Impact Hub Oakland represents a new type of co-working space, and an example of our shared values in action. Their diverse staff is made up of 44% people of color, 100% women, and 60% Oakland residents. All full time employees receive medical, dental and vision benefits, as well as paid time off. Meanwhile, Konda and Lisa continue to work with ICA and Fund Good Jobs to manage revenue forecasts and invest in their staff, so that they can continue to turn these good jobs into great jobs. “Every entrepreneur, whether she admits it or not, needs the rigorous oversight that ICA and Fund Good Jobs have given to us,” Lisa says. “The regularly scheduled meetings reviewing our financials have been crucial.”
The Hub’s impact on job creation is felt far beyond its own team. Every day, Impact Hub Oakland is bustling with entrepreneurs, small businesses, freelancers and consultants, who benefit from working in a collaborative environment. The Hub is an entrepreneurial ecosystem that also houses nonprofits, impact investors, and business accelerators, all of which share a passion for social benefit. The founders have implemented ground-breaking inclusive programming to reach underserved populations. For example, Pathways to Resilience offers permaculture entrepreneurship training for incarcerated individuals and high-risk formerly incarcerated individuals, while Youth Hub provides entrepreneurship programming for Oakland youth.
ICA has also partnered with The Hub to host our Business Institute Startup Strategies class; an early-stage version of the same program that brought the founders together. This transformative class has fostered the growth of several job-creating small businesses. One example is Town Kitchen, a catering business that delivers locally-sourced lunch fare and employs local youth. Since attending the Startup Strategies course, The Town Kitchen has doubled in size and maintained a connection to the ICA pipeline of companies.
“Partnering so deeply with ICA and Fund Good Jobs has been an amazing process,” Lisa says. “Together we are supporting an entrepreneurial community that has the potential to create far more good jobs and local impact than we could have on our own.”
We are confident that Impact HUB Oakland’s meteoric rise will continue as it fosters community and accelerates economic growth in Oakland.