Calling all brainstorming techies.
In 2015, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce launched TechPlace, 2,500 square feet of collaboration areas for tech-minded entrepreneurs. TechPlace comprises the entire third floor of the McAllen Creative Incubator on North Main Street, providing a place where app developers, software developers, tech startups, programmers, coders and college students can connect with one another in a comfortable, ergonomically pleasing office setting.
“One of the trends occurring in business these days with startup companies is the need for a third place – not the home and not the office – but a place where you can interact with people who have skill sets that maybe you don't have, so you can ask questions and work with one another to develop new ideas and businesses,” says Steve Ahlenius, president and CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. “TechPlace is part of an ecosystem we are trying to create in McAllen that encourages startups and small businesses to get together in this type of environment.”
TechPlace's third floor can hold up to 50 people, and amenities include Wi-Fi, conference rooms, Smartboards, a kitchen and a “quiet room” for private phone calls. The company that outfitted TechPlace is San Antonio-based Texas Wilson, an office furniture company known for designing progressive, high-performance workplaces.
“Texas Wilson was founded 30 years ago as a startup company, and I have always wanted to give back to entrepreneurs,” says Mike Luna, Texas Wilson owner and a member of the global Entrepreneurs’ Organization. “I met Steve Ahlenius a few years ago at a ribbon cutting, and he talked about his TechPlace idea. It’s similar to an office concept in San Antonio called Geekdom, and I wanted to help with the McAllen venture.”
As a result, Texas Wilson became a project sponsor and decorated all of TechPlace.
“The whole area has a modern look that college students and millennials can really enjoy,” Luna says.
All tenants at TechPlace have a variety of workstation options, and individual entrepreneurs or group startups can rent space by the month according to their needs.
“Rent can be as low as $25 a month. We want to keep the rent reasonable to allow startups to invest their money in worthwhile efforts like their products or ideas,” Ahlenius says. “TechPlace is also great for individuals to market themselves to some of the onsite forward-thinking startups that might be looking for excellent talent.”
Ahlenius adds that the TechPlace concept goes along with several other technology-based programs and events that the chamber organizes and backs, including an I&E (Inventors & Entrepreneurs) Network, a Good Pitch Competition, Latino Hope, Innovation Grants and a Small Business Competition.
“The chamber has launched many initiatives over the last five years to help people turn their innovative ideas into realities,” he says. “We will continue to help entrepreneurs and startups as much as we possibly can.”