Jul 28, 2014

Get to "iWork Healdsburg"

Shared business incubator/accelerator space planned.

Get to "iWork Healdsburg"


a Healdsburg wine technology consultant, is looking to build a co-working business incubator/accelerator to serve small wine industry professionals and other local entrepreneurs.

The collaborative work space, dubbedwill offer not only lower priced infrastructure (e.g, wi-fi, printing, computer use, etc.) and smaller overhead but also the camaraderie that is lacking when people work by themselves at home.

"We want to attract talented individuals to an environment of innovation, collaboration and creativity," Chapin said. "It can be more stimulating than working solo at home."

Even tourists who want to have a working vacation in town or vendors traveling to Healdsburg can have a place to set up shop, he said.

"A tourist could rent the space 9 to 5 Monday through Thursday, take Friday and go to a spa or play golf, and then spend the weekend wine-tasting in Healdsburg," Chapin said.

The for-profit incubator/accelerator would not only spark small wine business productivity, but will also engage local vendors, area mentors and city and Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce staff,Chapin said.

"Healdsburg can be the home of an emerging wine technology hub," said Chapin, 38, who has worked in the technology and administrative support end of wineries in Napa and Healdsburg for almost two decades.

"Napa and Healdsburg have a lot in common," said Chapin, who also has purchased the "iWork Napa" domain name in hopes that a similar project could be launched there. "Both are at the epicenter of their respective winery arenas."

"iWork Healdsburg," would offer access to a fully-equipped secured office space on a drop-in or membership basis.

Likely charges could range from a $5 hourly or $20 daily drop-in fee to a $400/month 24/7 access membership. Special services, such as printing, conferencing or IT support, could be purchased separately from a menu of support services, he said.

Other spinoffs are also possible. A speaker series, workshops or even 3-D printing technology are envisioned.

"I think it's a very good idea," said a local technology industry veteran, who asked that his name not be used for professional reasons.

"I think it's only a matter of time before the North Bay starts attracting technology companes -- and it's good to have a flag in the sand," he said.

He said many tech leaders are eager to escape the city or Silicon Valley to come to Wine Country for the biking, hiking and wine-tasting. Some may decide to purchase second homes here.

Having the technology resources will improve chances of leveraging the lifestyle bonuses into new jobs when those people decide to relocate their tech or manufacturing companies to Healdsburg or other parts of the North Bay, he said.

"For this economy to grow, it's not enough just to have high-end real estate and the service industries that go with it," he said. "You need the donut in the middle -- tech and manufacturing -- to create jobs."

Chapin and his wife Stacey own Left Coast Marketing, a consulting firm that has a wine photography studio in American Canyon at the warehouse for WineDirect, which sells wine on Facebook. Chapin's studio does all the wine bottle photography for WineDirect on Facebook.

The couple also are developing Artisan Cloud, a digital photo storage software service.

Chapin is sending out an online business survey this month through the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce to gauge interest in the project, which could launch this spring if he has 10 full-service members.

"You can use technology to support the industries in your backyard," he said. "About a third of all wineries are within a 30-mile radius of Healdsburg and they all use technology, which doesn't have a large footprint and can be done anywhere."

Technology services could be used to enhance winery sales, distribution, accounting, inventory, winemaking and vineyard management, he said.

A similar project, launched last year and has become quite popular, he said.

"I'm in touch with Matt Moller," said Chapin, referring to one of the Work Petaluma founders.

Rohnert Park also has a non-profit iHub workspace in the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster.

Chapin said he has not yet secured a location in Healdsburg, but he said he has his eyes on some commercial spaces around town.

Chapin said some local vendors have told him they would like to partner in the venture.

"Fusion Technology Solutions owner Scott Schulze has generously offered to provide IT Support, VOIP and Cloud Hosting Solutions for members and residents of iWork Healdsburg," Chapin said.

Also, City Councilman Shaun McCaffery has told Chapin he would help out by managing a "Founders' Wall" to display the original 10 members.

To find out more about iWork Healdsburg or to explore membership, see the website.

To read a North Bay Business Journal article on iWork Healdsburg, click here.

Chapin is a former president of the Healdsburg Active 20-30 Club and former board member of the Healdsburg Young Professionals Club.

He has helped organize such community fundraisers as Bottleshots and the Healdsburg Barn Dance.

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