Black Dot, a business incubator for black-owned enterprises, is celebrating its new, bigger home in Seattle’s Central District. The expanded space will provide room for black innovators, artists, youth and business people to network, attend bootcamps and co-work in a welcoming environment. The group hosted a housewarming party last week to show off the new digs.
The organization aims to support entrepreneurs of African descent by offering the resources needed to start or maintain a business. That includes classes on marketing and staying relevant, coaching in using social media, help creating business plans, advice for artists on how to value their work and assisting youth eager to land internships.
“We’ve changed the dynamic of what Black Dot is doing right now,” said Brittiany Dixon-Taylor, community manager for the group.
The new location at 16th Avenue and S. Jackson Street is twice as large as their original space. It has two co-working rooms, gallery-exhibition space, a training room, a conference room and outdoor space for pop-up shops and markets.
“The new space will allow Black Dot to continue providing vital co-working space, training, resources, community and connections to help entrepreneurs, creatives and technologists pursue their dreams and achieve economic sustainability,” said Black Dot co-founder Mujale Chisebuka, in a statement.
About 100 people attended the soft launch last week. The event — dubbed Black Dot Underground — featured an entrepreneurs’ showcase, hors d’oeuvres from local chefs, networking opportunities and a live DJ.
Black Dot started in 2015 in a space at 23rd and Union in the heart of the Central District. The co-founders, which also include K. Wyking Garrett, Aramis Hamer and Monica Washington, emphasized the importance being located in a Seattle neighborhood that has long been home to black residents and a focal point for a vibrant community of black-owned businesses.
“We look forward to kind of being like a greenhouse for economic sustainability in this community — we are a seed,” Garrett told GeekWire in an earlier story. “The ‘dot’ is a seed.”
The organization evolved from Africatown, which is still going strong, and Hack the CD — two efforts with the goal of nurturing entrepreneurial efforts and supporting African American-owned businesses and artistic community in the Central District.
The group has received support from Google and Facebook. It sells memberships to support the organization and rents space for events. Volunteers also provide needed help.
Black Dot has a 2017 goal of helping launch or grow 100 black-owned startups and existing businesses. At the end of the month, the group is hosting a brunch to talk individually with entrepreneurs and business owners about their needs and how Black Dot can help.
“I want Black Dot to have that energy and have that feeling that makes you more productive,” Dixon-Taylor said, “where entrepreneurs can be themselves and really grow.”