MAC6, a for-profit Tempe startup incubator and investment company, combined inspiring speakers with free beer, food trucks and fog machines to host its grand opening at a warehouse where 12 local businesses will run their companies and manufacture their products.
These aren’t just any businesses. They focus on “Conscious Capitalism,” the idea that companies should be creating a product or service that gives back what it takes from the environment and uses capitalism as a force for good.
Scott McIntosh, former mining engineer, co-founded MAC6 with his son Scott two years ago. He began working with Gordon McConnell, SkySong’s assistant vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation, a year ago to develop the idea of the warehouse for startups with no place to manufacture their products.
“We were talking with Gordon and nothing was happening and the money was trying to come together for it,” he said. “We said, with our MAC6 hats on, ‘Let’s make something happen.’”
MAC6 bought the warehouse and over the last year has been turning it into a space for manufacturing startups.
“I really appreciate and enjoy making real things happen, and that’s where the manufacturing comes in,” he said.
McConnell said he is looking forward to what MAC6 will do for manufacturing in the U.S. He had the idea for the warehouse space two years ago after realizing that the startups SkySong was generating had no place to for local companies that are creating projects. He went to McIntosh with his solution, and they worked together to create the space for the Edson graduates and other local companies.
“We were producing startups in our student program that were going to make stuff, and if we don’t have a place to put those after they leave our program, we’re gonna have a real problem,” he said. “Guess what? Now we have a solution to that problem.”
McConnell said he values the importance of manufacturing, and would like to see a return to manufacturing in the U.S.
“I’m a big fan of making things,” he said. “We used to make stuff in the West, (and) we forgot how to do it. So this is really important, and it’s part of the storyline for the city, the state and the country about making stuff.”
The 12 companies that work out of MAC6 set up tables outside of the warehouse before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, showcasing their work and explaining their mission to attendees.
Six of the groups that work out of the brand-new space are graduates of the ASU Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative. They received their funding from the Edson program and now have a tangible product that needs to be built, and MAC6 is offering them 18 months free rent to do exactly that.
Pollen-Tech is one of those companies that won the Edson grant and is now working in the space. Adam Brown, a third-year law student, represented the company at their information booth, decorated with a lone bowl of almonds, a result of the first harvest in which the company’s product aided.
Brown explained the company created a product that aids in the pollination of crops, as there is a recent struggle for farmers to pollinate their plants as bee populations decline. Pollen-Tech just moved into its space in MAC6 to perform more tests and eventually create its product.
“We’ve done one year of field tests, but there’s a lot more things we want to figure out,” he said. “We’ll actually be producing the pollen spray here.”
Brown spoke at the opening, reiterating that without ASU’s help, his company wouldn’t have been as successful as it is today.
The opening speeches highlighted the importance of creating a company that not only successfully makes a product, but keeps the environment in mind while doing so. Jeff Klein, CEO of Working for Good and Conscious Capitalism executive team member, said he expects the companies at MAC6 to have a great impact.
“This is about elevating humanity through business,” he said.
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