Coolhouse Labs, in Harbor Springs, is a new technology startup accelerator operating on a “Small towns. Big Ideas” model. Now, the young entrepreneurs at the Lab are hosting a two-day community event— the Harbor Creators Collective— to promote, generate, and support creativity in Northern Michigan. We caught up with Coolhouse Labs founder and managing director, Jordan Breighner, to learn more.
How would you describe the Harbor Creators Collective?
When we started working on The HACC the major task that I had of our team do was to build an event that they would actually want to go to. It’s supposed to be an intimate and interactive celebration of creative entrepreneurs in the community—both in and outside of Coolhouse Labs.
It’s also the culminating weekend for Coolhouse Labs’ first summer cohort—can you talk a little about what you’ve been up to there?
We’ve been working with an amazing group of young entrepreneurs, and helping them turn their big idea into reality. We have 5 incredible, young companies that we are launching to the world on Demo day.
We’ve put them through a 10-week program where we matched them up with our network of 50+ mentors and gave them all the resources that a young company would need to get them off the ground.
So is Harbor Springs becoming a hotbed of innovation and creativity?
We’re not there yet, but we are working hard to make it that way. That is a big reason why we launched the nonprofit arm of Coolhouse Labs to continue the work that we have been doing this summer to build a creative + startup community in Harbor Springs.
What is it about Northern Michigan that makes it a perfect place to celebrate “makers” and “creators” — and to breed more energy of that nature?
There is something about this place—maybe it’s the natural beauty or the type of person who chooses to build a life here—that fosters creative thinkers. We need to celebrate the builders, the makers, the creative thinkers and enable them to embrace their vision for the world they want to live in.
How does the HACC play into the impact Coolhouse wants to have on the community all year?
I like to think of it as the bridge between the work we are doing in the summer to import young + talented creative entrepreneurs into the community and the work we want to do with the nonprofit to identify and develop the entrepreneurial and creative talent in the community.
Give us a rundown of the HACC events—what are some highlights?
Well, we kick off the weekend of events with our Cohort demo day and a recap of the 10-week program at the high school. Each team will get 5 teams to pitch their company to the world.
Friday afternoon we have a number of events including campfire chats and a community party with live music at Coolhouse Labs.
Saturday we are back at Coolhouse Labs with our Creators Fair—which local creators will have a interactive pod where you’ll get to experience first hand the work they are doing. To wrap the weekend up we are doing a pig roast at Pond Hill Farm.
At $50 for the weekend— and just $25 for students— it’s a pretty sweet deal. Why is it so important to create the space and time for gatherings like this in Michigan?
I’m a big believer in the power of creative friction, and we need to work that much harder to find and create those moments of creative friction in Northern Michigan. Event’s like The HACC are designed to create those moments, and we might have a little fun doing it.