The PopShop started as an experiment. A group of entrepreneurial students, including me, came together from all over Cornell’s campus to try something totally new. All of us had great ideas, were working on projects, or had some kind of business experience. Unfortunately, our classes weren’t giving us the opportunity to pursue these ideas, get feedback, and potentially turn them into real companies. Realizing this problem, we worked with Cornell administrators from Entrepreneurship@Cornell, as well as the eLab and Student Agencies to develop the PopShop, a 2 month experimental “pop-up” co-working space just off Cornell’s main campus. We never could have imagined how successful it would be. We scheduled talks from VCs and entrepreneurs, held workshops on everything from 3D printing to outsourcing, held hackathons and networking events, and made the space available as a collaborative work environment to any students who were interested. Within days, the PopShop was swarming. Within a few weeks, it was clear to us that this was going to be much more than a 2 month experiment.
Thanks to lots of support from Cornell and entrepreneurial alumni, we’ve been able to turn the PopShop into a permanent fixture in College Town (the community just off Cornell’s campus). Even over the summer, the space has been filled with excited students who stayed in Ithaca during summer break to work on turning their ideas into reality. The PopShop is not an incubator or a startup accelerator. Nor is it a hackerspace. It’s somewhere in between all of those things. Students from all over campus come together to collaborate, share ideas, and help one another. Perhaps most importantly, it’s not just a room full of code monkeys. While many of the student startups working in the space are software-based, you’ll also find consumer hardware companies, apparel design, social entrepreneurship, sustainability advocates, artists, and more.
We’ve worked particularly hard to make the space conducive to collaboration. The centerpiece of the room is a massive whiteboard/table – you can write all over it. All the walls are giant whiteboards too, thanks to a generous donation of “Idea Paint” from Behance.
Check out some photos of the space:
Using the images from the PopShop’s live feed, I wrote script that runs on a remote server and automatically stores images from the camera once every minute. Using some of those images from April 2012, I made a 3 week timelapse showing how people tend to use the space. Check it out:
The PopShop in the News
- 04/10/2012 – PopShop Opens Its Doors in Collegetown (video)
- 04/13/2012 – Student Entrepreneurs Set Up Shop in Collegetown (Cornell Daily Sun)
- 07/26/2012 – PopShop helps grow student entrepreneurial ideas (Cornell Chronicle)