Covington will add another feather to its cap as it maneuvers to position itself as a hub of entrepreneurship for twenty-first century creators.
Bad Girl Ventures, the female-driven non-profit that gives access to capital for would-be businesswomen, will move its headquarters to Pike Street downtown. It will be next door to UpTech, the technology start-up business accelerator, and will locate inside the former Tanino's building which won approval from Covington City Commission for redevelopment by Orleans Development's Tony Kreutzjans.
Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) will be just around the corner from bioLOGIC, the life sciences business incubator.
"We thought it was time to expand our presence in Northern Kentucky. That's when we started talking to UpTech about their experience here," said BGV executive director Corey Drushal. "They were very encouraging that this could be a great market for us."
Since its founding four years ago, BGV has assisted more than four hundred female entrepreneurs. It offers nine-week business courses attended by dozens of students who hope to be chosen to be among ten finalists who then compete for financing prizes of $25,000 or $10,000. Drushal describes BGV as "business agnostic", meaning that any type of commercial plan is welcome. It has offices in Cleveland and Columbus and is currently headquartered in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine where it will maintain an office even after moving to Covington, a move that is expected as soon as January.
"The thing about female entrepreneurs is, they're a little bit different than male entrepreneurs," Drushal said. "They really thrive in a supportive community. They need an environment where they feel they can ask questions without hesitation, where they can find people who have been through the same experience as them."
Often, entrepreneurs who seek BGV's help through its programming are in careers other than the type of business they hope to own. They may be mid-career professionals or mothers reentering the workforce. "They're trying to balance a number of things in their lives. When people come to BGV, it's the first time someone hasn't told them they're crazy for doing what they're doing," Drushal said.
"Just from the buzz of this I have had at least six businesses come over looking for retail space and storefronts, everything from food to retail, a variety of really cool businesses," said Naashom Marx, the city's business development manager. "This is a great asset and a great addition to the entrepreneur community."
"It's huge for the city to be able to add one of those pieces that we felt was missing."
On Tuesday night, the Covington City Commission will consider becoming the master tenant of the newly developed first floor commercial space. It would then sublease the space to BGV. The idea has already been vetted and recommended for approval by the city's economic development authority
"This can be a good opportunity to bring new life to the city," Marx said.
Because the Tanino's building and the Pike Star building (where UpTech is housed), both of which will have residential units above, are adjacent, BGV's co-working space (something it had not previously been able to offer) will share a door with UpTech, allowing entrepreneurs from both programs to interact.
"When they hit that community, the sky is the limit for them," Drushal said. "We want to be able to offer that community to them as much as we can."
Guys are able to participate in BGV's business classes, but the funding rounds are restricted solely to the ladies, the bad girls, Drushal said. "These women are bold and brave and willing to take risks when everyone else in their lives is telling them they're crazy."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News
Photo: Tanino's Building (RCN file) with BGV logo