Students will often frequent Hale or local coffee shops to study and work on assignments, but with the library and coffee shops closing their doors at earlier hours, a budding local business, The Fellow, is taking the opportunity to do just the opposite.
Starting Sept. 12, The Fellow will introduce a Student After Hours membership for $20 a month, Monday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
With this $20, students not only are able to have a quiet and collaborative place to work, but they also have access to printing and free Arrow coffee.
The Fellow is able to stay open for these after hours by having college student volunteers working the front desk, and would even consider staying open later if they had willing volunteers.
The $20 not only gives students a place to go work but also a community.
“It’s a membership; you’re part of a community,” Matt Amick, community developer for The Fellow, said. “We think about you. We’re people who want to help you in business and life.”
Aside from the Student After Hours membership, full access to The Fellow is $65 a month for students, but The Fellow staff realize that often college students not only don’t possess that much extra money, but are also at classes throughout the day, thus making this type of membership inapplicable to their lifestyles.
This was one of the factors that influenced The Fellow owners to develop a cheaper and later alternative membership, Amick said.
“Working on your own is not fun,” Amick said. “Especially going into coffee shops and dropping five bucks a day on coffee and getting passive-aggressive glares from employees who want more customers to be able to come in. They don’t want people just chilling in one spot all day.”
The Fellow’s goal is to also create a co-working space for students and professionals alike to build a community within Manhattan.
“There’s this disconnect in Manhattan between college students and adults,” Amick said. “Our goal is to create a community more than just a place.”
One of the biggest draws to The Fellow for volunteer Ross Allen, besides the coffee, was the sense of community it provides.
“One of the biggest draws for me was that there’s a community of other people who are also teams of one or small teams,” Allen said. “There’s just this creative energy.”
A similar concept to The Fellow started up in the community of Pennsylvania State University a couple of years ago. On top of providing a place for young entrepreneurs to work and collaborate with other local businesspeople during the day, they also started offering student nights which ultimately allowed them to tie the two groups of people together.
This kind of bridging the gap is exactly what The Fellow is aiming to do in the Manhattan community, Amick said.
For example, one of the owners of The Fellow, Derek Richards, is also owner of Alliance Realty and a successful businessman within the Manhattan community.
“I have a little bit of knowledge of running a successful business,” Richards said. “So to the younger, new businesspeople, I’m able to speak into their lives a little bit because I’ve been through it.”
The starters of The Fellow also strongly believe in the importance of small businesses and helping guide them to success to the Manhattan area.
“I think cultivating strong, small businesses is important to Manhattan,” Richards said. “We’re seeing small businesses having a pretty large failure rate.”
About 50 percent of businesses fail during their first year in business, according to the Small Business Administration.
“A reason for that is probably education,” Richards said. “People don’t really know how to run their business. There’s not really a curriculum out there that guides people on how to.”
With so many different businesses out there, Richards said he thinks young entrepreneurs go for it, giving it their all with the best knowledge they have, but ultimately run out of cash and have to shut doors because that’s simply not enough.
“We see The Fellow as an advocate to allow small businesses to not bite off as much at the beginning,” Richards said. “Big expenses, when you first start a business, are rental space and all the overhead costs. We provide a much more moderate rate.”
Richards encourages small businesses that are just starting up to use the facilities The Fellow provides and collaborating with other people in the community.
“In fact, it actually might get you down the road faster because we have so many different professionals and all the networking,” Richards said.
The university provides students with a more theoretical sense of connections with professors who might know people later down the road, but for example, someone who is studying business should actually be talking to someone who is running a business in town and making those connections early on, Richards said.
On top of providing this outlet of collaboration, Amick said the idea of an “un-career fair” is in the works to further connect students to local businesses. Students wouldn’t have to dress up for the fair, allowing them to show up in a T-shirt and leggings and actually talk to local businesspeople, rather than showing up at a booth and handing them a resume, she said.
“[At a career fair] your impression is all based on your resume,” Amick said. “They don’t really get to talk to you and get to know who you are as a person.”
Overall, The Fellow is not only providing budding businesspeople and students alike with a space to get work done but also a place to bridge the gap between the 20-somethings and the professional world.
“Our real hope at the highest level of vision is to create a space where we bring in professionals, businesses and college students, and we’re able to connect those through this space,” Amick said.