In 2015, local entrepreneur James Chapman came up with an idea to solve his own problem of not having an open space to work in the evening hours once coffee shops closed. Chapman not only wanted a space to work, but wanted to be able to feed off the energy of others while he worked. Causeway, a local social innovation incubator, encouraged him to pilot the solution using their office space after hours. He called it Workaholics. Two years later, it is clear that Workaholics is not only filling a need, but building a community and a pathway to get connected in Chattanooga.
Workaholics is not just a group for budding entrepreneurs. People from all kinds of sectors need a space to work after hours. Mr. Chapman says this variety creates the best interactions, saying, “It’s not just those looking to start or grow a business. UTC students may come to the space to study. There are also folks who come because they sometimes have to complete tasks after work. Even teachers have come to the space to grade papers or work on lesson plans and end up sharing best practices for their respective classrooms. Those are what I like to call uncommon collisions.”
There is no typical night or typical crowd at Workaholics. You never know who may come, and that is the beauty of it. People from different sectors, backgrounds, and ways of life all come into the same environment. Some people come and work independently in a quiet area. Some people end up networking and being more social, or just sharing perspectives. People are white-boarding and brainstorming. Artists even have the tendency to stop by and create pieces.
As Workaholics grows and evolves, it will maintain its intentional diversity. At Workaholics one will often witness peer-to-peer mentoring. Established professionals can share knowledge with up-and-comers, and professionals that are similar in status but differ in background can help broaden each other's perspectives. Mr. Chapman said, “We want to build an ecosystem of emerging business leaders in the community that are looking to push the envelope on their careers and business endeavors. I believe in the investment of human capital. It has changed the trajectory of my career, and I’ve witnessed it boost the careers of others.”
In addition to the work space, Workaholics is building a database of established business leaders in the community that are willing to be mentors to emerging leaders. Mentorship through Workaholics requires a relatively low commitment of two hours per month for one year. Mentors will be paid a stipend for their time.
Workaholics typically takes place every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night at Causeway (16 Patten Parkway) from 6 p.m.-12 a.m. Dates and location are subject to change as the program grows. Visit worklatenights.com for an up-to-date calendar. To stay connected with attendees even outside of the space, join the Facebook group. For any questions on how to become a paid mentor or to receive business mentorship, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Causeway is the fiscal sponsor of Workaholics. Founded in 2010, Causeway uses an entrepreneurial approach to inspire and equip Chattanoogans to develop smarter solutions to our city’s toughest challenges. Causeway helps people find ways to contribute to our city–for some that means getting inspired by great ideas; for others that means equipping them to take action; for still others that means getting involved in the great things that are already happening in our city. Causeway is a local, 501(c)(3), non-profit organization supported by the Benwood Foundation, Footprint Foundation, the Community Foundation, the Osborne Fund and by thousands of Chattanoogans wanting to make a difference in their home town. For more information about Causeway, call 423 521-5554.