By Kayla Sosa
In Grand Rapids, there are many entrepreneurs and organizations that support their work and needs, but there’s not always a steady connection between the two.
Corey Hart, local entrepreneur, is looking to bridge that gap as the new director of the Start Up Grind chapter in Grand Rapids.
Start Up Grind is an independent startup community with over two million entrepreneurs in over 600 chapters, in over 125 countries across the globe. Each chapter hosts monthly events to better engage the community and connect the people who need and value each others’ services.
Hart, a Grand Rapids native, was inspired by the entrepreneurial and communal energy he saw in California after living there for just over a decade.
“I still feel as an entrepreneur like I’m on an island,” Hart said. “It’s happening here, we just need more. We just need to turn up the heat.”
In the California bay area, Hart was in the food tech industry but wanted to come back to his roots in West Michigan, where he started his entrepreneurial journey. Growing up, his dad owned a few restaurants including a Cinnabon franchise and the Goal Post in Allendale.
Hart, a Davenport University graduate and musician, started his own restaurant and nightclub called Moxie Churchills downtown Grand Rapids. That business financially faded out in 2009, but Hart looks at his experiences as the foundation and motivation for the work he’s doing now – advocating for the next wave of business owners.
“I would like it if anyone who had an idea could have it nurtured, cultivated, funded, mentored, headquartered, staffed here in West Michigan,” Hart said.
In the future, Start Up Grind Grand Rapids could be in partnership with a local bank or coworking space. Hart said he just wants to be able to support the everyday entrepreneur.
“The largest target for me in Start Up Grind is someone who doesn’t know they’re called an entrepreneur yet,” Hart said.
Tonight, Nov. 19, is the kickoff event for the Start Up Grind Grand Rapids Chapter. Hart is hosting Cara Fedewa Debbaudt, founder of BloomBright, a recruiting and consulting firm. Fedewa Debbaudt will speak on “Creating a Business with Authenticity, Resiliency & Integrity.” The fireside chat will take place at 6 p.m. at the University Club inside the GVSU DeVos Center. Tickets are $5.
For more information, visit: startupgrind.com/grand-rapids