Marseil Jackson is a longtime West Side resident who describes himself as a “serial entrepreneur” who hosts radio shows and creates youth advocacy programs. As he shows me around The Dream Center CoWorking and Business Support Services, a coworking space he founded last year at 5927 W. Chicago Ave., he tells me about his vision for the space and for the future of businesses in Austin and beyond.
There are words of affirmation along the walls and cotton in a decorative vase in the corner to “remind us of where we came from.” Marseil gives a rundown of the ways The Dream Center is holding space for business owners on the West Side.
Let’s do a little tour. Back here, we have some private offices. Right now, we rent those out as conference rooms, but there are people who want private offices, so those will be coming soon. Around here [pointing to a back door] leads out to a really nice seating area for people to enjoy work or have a barbecue out here – just a place for them to hang back. Over here, we have dedicated desks that people can rent.
These aren’t all full so we do allow people to drop in for a day rate. Our lowest membership package is $30 per month and that’s the virtual office option. That’s really nice for entrepreneurs who work from home and maybe they need an official business address and phone number – that is included in that package. It’s nice too, because you get access to a virtual assistant, Jasmine. She can help with the administrative parts of your business while you’re actually out there building and scaling your business.
This space is small, but it’s a pilot space. There are definitely plans to expand for people who want more of a traditional coworking space, somewhere they can come, but not be burdened with commercial rent or an office that goes unused.
That’s how I got the idea. I’m a serial entrepreneur and I wanted a place I could just come to as I needed and not feel like I was wasting money on a space. I also needed an assistant to help me with the day-to-day tasks and I could focus on growing my business. I figured why not just open a space on Chicago Avenue, since I have another project near here that I’m working on? It just made sense.
We have a lot of small businesses, but we also have large companies who use us as a Chicago base or hub. We also have other business packages we offer for people. Our signature service is business-in-a-box, where someone comes to us and we take your business idea and turn it into [reality]. Everything from incorporating with the state, to helping get a tax ID number, a domain name, designing a logo, getting business cards, and flier designs. We also can help with social media.
My team is small but full-service. My overall brand is called Dream Team, so it only made sense we call the coworking arm the Dream Center. It’s important to me to help small business owners handle their business the right way. Too often, we see businesses in the community fail because they’re taking shortcuts or not paying attention to things like personal and business credit and things like that. We’ve recently partnered with a new tenant of ours, IWA Consulting, to offer credit repair services for folks.
I was recently awarded a $250,000 Neighborhood Opportunity Grant and I can take advantage of that, because I learned how important having good credit is. Sometimes with city-funded grants, the fine print is that they reimburse you the funds you spend on your project, but if you have bad credit and/or no access to capital you can’t take advantage of that. It’s important for us to teach people things like that and help them get things in order.
We definitely plan to scale in the near future. It’s all about finding the proper location. In the new buildings I plan to have podcasting and recording spaces, restaurant spaces, cafe space, spaces for conferences and all types of events. Right now, there’s nowhere for that on Chicago Avenue, so I’d like to bring it.