Just under a year after buying a new building for her business, Epicentral Coworking owner Lisa Tessarowicz has signed a lease at the Ivywild School with plans to open a second collaborative environment in April — in the midst of Go Code season.
The news comes on the toes of the Go Code Colorado app-development challenge, which kicks off next month in Denver. It’s the second year Tessarowicz will host the local leg of the event, this time at 415 N. Tejon St. in downtown Colorado Springs.
“We are really loving our new space,” she said about the 9,850-square-foot Tejon property, which she purchased last March for $1.1 million and opened in July. “We finally finished construction here and we’re working on increasing membership. … But, sometimes in life, a perfect location presents itself.”
She said Ivywild is that grand opportunity.
“We’re excited to get started with the great energy that is already there — to be part of a community that is thriving,” she said.
Tessarowicz signed a two-year lease for the 1,500-square-foot Ivywild space March 1, replacing ModboCo School of Art, which returned to its downtown location last month.
It’s a single large room that borders the southeastern corner of the building’s ground level, with large windows, private member entry and recently refinished concrete floors.
Tessarowicz said the new location should open by the end of April and that there is already a list full of potential new members.
The Epicentral team is still working to pin down the technicalities — how many members the space will facilitate, whether to offer floating memberships between the two spaces and what membership levels will be available. But, as always, Tessarowicz said, the company will focus on its members.
“It certainly will be Epicentral,” she said. “But it will certainly have its own look and feel. … We would like to play off of the great things going on at Ivywild.”
Epicentral Manager Frank Frey, also referred to as “space captain,” will continue to manage the downtown location as well as the new space. He said similar surroundings should make the new digs feel just like home: While the Tejon building has Wild Goose Meeting House, Tony’s Bar and Odyssey Gastropub within walking distance, “Episouthcentral” shares a building with businesses including the Principal’s Office, Bristol Brewing and the Meat Locker.
Tessarowicz founded Epicentral with Hannah Parsons in 2011. Parsons left the company in April to start a consulting firm, but she remains active at Epicentral and is the local Go Code organizer.
Go Code: round two
The folks at Epicentral, as well as their communal counterparts, are also busy preparing for this year’s Go Code events, which kick off April 8 in Denver.
The statewide event is a challenge in which makeshift teams of designers, developers, coders and tech enthusiasts develop web-based applications based on public data. Last year, the challenge was to create an app to help entrepreneurs make informed decisions related to site location, competition, access to funding, educational resources and business partnerships.
“We definitely had a great first year, but we also learned a lot of lessons on how to improve,” said Andrew Cole, Go Code’s program manager.
The inaugural event was regarded as a success: It won awards and designations from organizations including Harvard and the Colorado Technology Association, influenced positive change in state and local government, brought together business and tech communities from throughout the state and has spurred a larger flow of funding for Go Code 2015.
“We’ve already seen great successes from this initiative over the past year,” said Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “We’re leveraging our flourishing tech and startup communities to help unleash the potential of our publicly available data to improve Colorado’s business climate.”
Go Code, a product of the Secretary of State’s Office, works in partnership with various agencies and industry sponsors such as Google. Teams in Colorado Springs, Denver/Boulder, Durango, Grand Junction and Fort Collins start out competing on the local level, are judged, and two teams from each metro are selected to advance to the finals in Denver on May 21. Last year there were six teams in Colorado Springs, which at the time worked out of Epicentral’s original location at 409 N. Tejon St.
Cole said, based on feedback after last year’s competition, his team has worked with state and local agencies to improve Go Code.
“Having a year behind us that we can point to and learn lessons from has been helpful,” he said.
Perhaps one of the most significant improvement was changing the awards of $25,000, $15,000 and $10,000 for first, second and third place (respectively) to $25,000 for all three winners.
Another way in which Cole thinks the competition has been improved is an early release of the “problem statements.” Unlike last year, competitors will receive challenge details early (perhaps next week), so teams have a chance to brainstorm and begin business research.
There is also a great deal more data available this year — the number of public data sets increased from 33 last year to more than 100 (and counting) for 2015. Cole said this was in response to the “biggest piece of feedback from last year,” which was that apps based on public data work best with a large amount of high-quality, uniform data.
“A long-term goal is to encourage the publication and use of that data,” Cole said of Go Code’s mission to increase transparency and accountability.
He said the availability of previous experience has also enabled his team to more effectively communicate with the state and its communities about the importance of such a program.
“I hope we showed the value of what we’re doing last year,” he said. “We’re doing something very unique … it’s part of a larger, open-data movement.”
Cole said the team has extended outreach to communities in hopes of increasing participation this year, and he expects the event to at least match that of last year.
Parsons, again organizing the local Colorado Springs leg of the event, said that a big part of that involves sponsorships.
Local sponsors include the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, the Colorado Springs Downtown Partnership and El Paso County. Sponsors also have dedicated $5,000 for each of the local finalist teams.
“We want to make this Destination Go Code,” Parsons said, encouraging residents of other area towns to flock to Epicentral. “We want to include everyone in Southern Colorado and make this the place to be.”
Last year’s kickoff was at the History Colorado Center, and the finale took place at the Denver Art Museum. This year’s venues have yet to be announced.
Mix & Mingle: Fort Collins
6:30 p.m. March 11 at Fort Collins Brewery
Beer & Business: Grand Junction
6 p.m. March 12 at Business Incubator Center
Mix & Mingle: Colorado Springs
6 p.m. March 16 at Epicentral Coworking
Mix & Mingle: Durango
5:30 p.m. March 18 at Carvers Brewing Company
2015 Kick-off Event
6 p.m. April 8 at in downtown Denver (TBA)
Challenge Weekend 2015
6 p.m. April 10 at respective locales
Mentor Weekend (Finalist Event)
6 p.m. April 24 at Rally Software in Boulder
Code Review (Finalist Event)
9 a.m. May 17 online
6 p.m. May 21 in downtown Denver (TBA)