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FredXchange Transfers The Foundry Co-Working Space to New Owner, Considers Its Future

By Susan Larson

FredXchange (FredX), the local nonprofit established in 2013 to build a local entrepreneurial community, is transferring ownership of its co-working space, effective December 1, 2016.

At the same time, FredX is taking a hiatus.

“There was discussion about completely dissolving FredXchange, but for now we are going into hibernation until new leadership can be identified,” said Board President Max Lupton.

“The organization does not have the resources to continue operating The Foundry, and we are working with Tim Owens of Reclaim Hosting to take over the lease and maintain some sort of co-working resource that our current subscribers can transition to in December,” he said. The Friday, Nov. 25, FredX Open Coffee meetup at The Foundry will be the last until the organization regroups.

In an October 2016 presentation to the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority, former FredX Board Member Dan Light said there were 15 full-time members of The Foundry. Fredericksburg.Today has asked who those members are, and for confirmation of that number, but has not yet received that information.

Reclaim Hosting is moving its offices to half the space at 2324 Plank Rd. in the Gateway Village Shopping Center, and will continue The Foundry in the other half. It won’t quite be the same model, Owens said; there won’t be any programming, and Owens won’t be renting desks or offices, but individuals will be able to use what he envisions a renovation will make “a more vibrant space” to meet and work. He may also rent the conference room. Short-term, the fees will stay the same, but moving forward they’ll be lowered, he said.

The Foundry by FredXchange was launched in August 2015. It was opened to provide flexible co-working space, and to initiate educational and mentoring opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups.

Outgoing Board Member Jeanne Wesley, who is vice president for Workforce Development and Community Relations at Germanna Community College, said although she personally will be taking less of a role in FredXchange than she has over the last several years, Germanna remains very interested in partnering with the nonprofit. “FredX has not gone away,” Wesley told Fredericksburg.Today. She said programs will continue after new board members and more volunteers are identified.

“Working with FredXchange is a great way to help the entrepreneurial community,” Wesley said. She said some FredX programs may meet at Germanna, and that the school plans to host more Startup Weekends with the nonprofit.

Germanna has been a big supporter of FredXchange from the beginning. “We’ve gotten this far down range because of their carte blanche participation,” co-founder Matt Armstrong said in 2014. Germanna partnered in Startup Weekends, launched a workshop series geared to entrepreneurs, and coordinated Open Coffee speakers once The Foundry opened.

Local entrepreneurs Matt Armstrong and Christine Goodwin founded FredXchange in 2013, from a desire to create the opportunity for people to live where they work. Their goal was to build an entrepreneurial community where people could share ideas, find moral support and barter resources. They each left the organization in 2015.

The first big success for FredXchange came in January 2014, with the first Startup Weekend in Fredericksburg.

Startup Weekend is a global movement of business leaders and entrepreneurs helping others share ideas and start a business in 54 hours. The January 2014 event helped launch, for example, Fredericksburg entrepreneur Adrian Silversmith’s company Sprelly, the eatery which specializes in gourmet Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches and crepes.

FredXchange held two more Startup Weekends.

FredXchange was awarded a $50,000 grant from Fredericksburg’s Economic Development Authority in April 2013, to assist with establishment and first year expenses of the co-working space.

The nonprofit received another $5,000 grant in October 2015, to pursue an adjacent lease.

Additional funding of $20,000 was awarded in April 2016. The final $10,000 installment of that grant was given to FredX this fall, according to Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Director Bill Freehling.

At its heyday, FredXchange had some 700 people participating in its five regular meetups, Goodwin told Fredericksburg.Today in 2014.
– Founder’s Ale, a gathering of entrepreneurs and local startup business founders meeting on the first Tuesday of every month
– FredDev, a meetup geared toward developers and designers on the second Tuesday of every month.
– FxbgDesign, a meetup for local designers and creatives on the third Tuesday of every month.
– FredX, a discussion on building a sustainable startup community in the region on the fourth Tuesday of every month.
– Open Coffee networking, every Friday.

Wesley said she thinks at least some of these will resume in January 2017.

Lupton is not so sure. “Melinda May announced she is leaving the board, and Andrew Curtis is the only other board member remaining,” he said. “I’ve changed jobs, and can’t devote as much time to FredXchange as I have in the past.”
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Editor’s Full Disclosure: I have participated in FredXchange events, made presentations at Open Coffee, and been a member of The Foundry. -sl
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