Gangplank opens pop-up office at Downtown campus

While bringing the program to the Cronkite school Downtown for the summer, Dave Neighboors, founder of Gangplank, which is a collaborative workspace for small businesses in the Valley, and Liz Smith, Cronkite outreach director, spoke at Gangplank's Open House Friday afternoon. (Photo by Shawn Raymundo)

Gangplank, a Chandler-based company dedicated to fostering collaborative thinking, is looking to expand to downtown Phoenix.

A temporary pop-up space opened on the second floor of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication June 4 and will remain open until shortly before fall classes begin.

Gangplank already has existing locations in Chandler, Avondale and Tucson, but this is the first in close proximity to an ASU campus.

Francine Hardaway, who will serve as a mentor to entrepreneurs working out of the downtown Phoenix area, has worked with Gangplank for several years and seen nearly 700 businesses launch with help from the company.

She said this downtown Phoenix site, although temporary, would allow Phoenix entrepreneurs access to more resources and collaborative space.

“Entrepreneurs in downtown Phoenix really have a shortage of spaces where they can go to meet each other and work together,” she said.

The pop-up space in the Cronkite School has several recurring events planned, such as Monday night cereal bars and Thursday show-and-tell sessions.

Hardaway and fellow mentors will assist entrepreneurs with logistics, such as legal and financial aspects of running a business.

“A lot of people have really good ideas, but they don’t have a clue how to make money with those ideas,” she said. “I’m really good at that.”

Gangplank has a local focus and tries to keep companies in Arizona, co-founder Derek Neighbors said.

He and his business partner first created the Chandler space when they realized that they and other people they knew who were looking to start businesses thought they needed to leave Arizona to be successful.

“Our hearts are in Arizona,” he said. “If we feel that strongly about it but were thinking about leaving, what would people without that strong connection do?”

They began Gangplank to help provide funding for these companies, but soon saw that the problem keeping businesses from flourishing in the Valley was not a shortage of funds or talent but a “culture caustic to innovation,” Neighbors said.

“When you have a dream, it sucks to be kicked in the teeth and told it’s not possible,” he said. “We’re trying to provide the infrastructure and support for that ‘crazy’ to happen.”

Regular users of the other Valley locations plan on providing support to the downtown Phoenix pop-up space.

Chris Lee, managing partner for Gangplank Chandler anchor company Customer Systems, was at the downtown location’s open house Friday.

Lee said he wouldn’t travel to downtown often, as it is far from his house, but he would make a few trips to support the new site and its users.

“A lot of us would make the trek to Chandler because we believe in what’s going on there,” he said. “It would be a shame if that was the only option, though.”

Gangplank is aiming to establish a permanent location in downtown Phoenix by the end of the summer. Until then, the pop-up space will be open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday on the second floor of the Cronkite School.

 

Reach the reporter at julia.shumway@asu.edu

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