-  New business incubator offers support to companies

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Adam Reid (left) and Northwest Enforcement owners, Karen and Chad Withrow, partnered to open NedSpace Gresham, a business incubator for East County entrepreneurs. The hub provides space for members to utilize hot desks to conduct business and conference rooms to meet with clients.

Two heads are always better than one when it comes to problem solving.

But for a fledgling business, finding support for a startup company, among those experiencing similar issues, is invaluable.

Enter NedSpace Gresham, a business incubator that provides peer-to-peer mentorship and trouble shooting to help entrepreneurs send their business to the next level.

“Nationally, about 85 percent of all small business startups fail in the first five years,” said Adam Reid, a member of the incubator’s Founders Roundtable and Gresham business owner. “Trying to grow your own business is very isolating. You can’t talk to your buddies about it over a beer because they’re talking about their jobs and you’re trying to figure out resources for office space so you can meet with clients. That’s why so many fail — they’re overwhelmed by all the details with both running their business and helping it grow.”

Business incubators are hardly a new concept. They are designed to provide support for startup companies through brainstorming sessions, planned events and workshops.

The group is managed by a Founders Roundtable, consisting of other business owners, who are also in the process of moving their business forward. For a nominal monthly fee, members have access to a “hot desk” where they are able to conduct business, receive mail or meet with clients without the expense of a storefront or office up front.

“This is about a business looking to move up,” Reid said. “There’s a difference between being self-employed and building a business that may include multiple locations or product development. NedSpace Gresham is for people who are all in, doing this full-time. Their business can’t be a sideline.”

Reid is no rookie in the field of entrepreneurship. He and his wife, Maria, own Origin’s Coffee and Tea House (formerly Coffee’s On) and he is also the co-founder of the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Charter High School in Portland. Reid is a strong advocate for the power of small business as an economic foundation in the community, often mentoring upstart business owners over coffee at his shop in Gresham Town Fair.

It was a chance encounter through a Gresham chamber committee, however, that connected Reid with Karen and Chad Withrow, owners of the security firm Northwest Enforcement. The East County couple had just moved their business into an 8,300-square-foot space in an industrial park off Northeast Sandy Boulevard and had office space to spare.

“Karen and Chad’s sales director and I served on the Try Local First committee,” Reid said. “He told me they were looking to sublease some of their extra space, so I met with them and proposed a business incubator like NedSpace Portland for East County. I shot an email to Mark Grimes (co-founder of NedSpace Portland) and set up a meeting with him and Karen and Chad. They were really excited about it because they also see the potential for businesses out here.”

The venture was more than just filling space for the Withrows, however. Their commercial security firm, founded 14 years ago, had grown significantly and way beyond the confines of the dining room table at their home.

They remember feeling isolated as startup owners, with few resources for guidance, and were looking for a way to aid other entrepreneurs.

“We were holding training sessions in my house or on the driveway,” Karen said, laughing. “You can only do that for so long before your neighbors get upset. We wanted to create a business hub in East County, but really had no idea how to do that. Meeting Adam and connecting with NedSpace showed us how we could reach our mission to help others instead of just renting space.”

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - NedSpace Gresham is designed to help upstart companies move forward without the initial outlay of finances for an office or storefront. Members can have their mail delivered to the hub, instead of using their home address. NedSpace Gresham is patterned after its namesake incubator, which was founded in 2009 by Portlanders Mark Grimes and Josh Friedman. The pair worked with the city of Portland and the Portland Development Commission to create an evergreen investment fund for startup companies in Portland.

Businesses launched and funded through NedSpace Portland have generated more than $55 million and include companies such as Wikisway, Gadgetrack and Giving-Sphere, among others.

Creating a business hub that supports startups is a win-win, Reid said. NedSpace Gresham not only will help entrepreneurs turn their dream into reality, but also boost the local economy through job creation.

“Karen and Chad are the ones financing this and bringing this to East County,” Reid said. “We want to see that the business community in East County succeeds together.”

More info

Who: NedSpace Gresham

What: A business incubator for entrepreneurs, providing peer-to-peer mentorship to aid in the growth of upstart companies; members can pay a monthly fee to utilize a “hot desk” where they can conduct business, conference rooms to meet with clients.

Contact: visit or contact Karen Withrow at 503-380-0200 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to schedule an appointment for a tour.

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