June 19

By Sean Meyer

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Melody Wu fell in love with Innovation Works the first time she walked in the front door, first becoming a volunteer in the DECA program and then later utilizing the energy of the space, and the connections she would make, to launch her own business.

It was the very nature of Innovation Works, however, that drove her to not only reach out further and share what she’s learned from her time in the space, but to take greater advantage of the network of like-minded people she was meeting.

That’s where Garrett Vanderwyst and Ben Switzer come in as the three have formed a weekly socialpreneur support group called Success Buddies to help take their respective businesses to the next level.

Actually, Melody’s idea was also inspired by her reading of Darren Hardy’s book, The Compound Effect.

“He talked about the idea of being a success buddy, which is different from a mentor who help you at a high level. A success buddy is someone who keeps you accountable and motivated on a regular basis,” she said. “I thought that’s neat, I can do that. It didn’t take me long to figure out who I would enjoy spending time with.”

Melody — owner of Beyond, which is a personal relationship manager app to help people develop more meaningful connections — sits down for an hour every Monday with Garrett, owner and president of Turn Key Renewable Transportation, and Ben, founder of True Focus, and a new startup called Motivate Gaming, to encourage each other, provide support and inspiration for the challenges they all face on a regular basis.

Garrett said the Success Buddies idea makes a lot of sense.

“There are so many wins and losses through the day; entrepreneurship is such a moving thing,” he said. “I’m talking to high-value people whose insights matter instead of talking to someone who doesn’t understand what you’re going through. It seemed like a great idea off the hop.”

Ben said he joined the group because the idea was “just so Melody,” adding her willingness to adopt new ideas, experiment and learn at a fast rate perfectly matched his own philosophy.

He also explained, given that many founders start their company without knowing exactly what they’re doing, how he believes there is considerable value in having a circle of friends around who have a vested interested in each other’s success.

For Melody, the Success Buddies has worked out “even beyond” what she imagined.

Every Monday morning, she said, it’s the perfect time to “prime the week” by talking about what each other promised they’d deliver the previous week, what they actually accomplished, and what were the challenges they faced.

They also talk about their goals and plans for the week to come and what challenges they will face in achieving them.

“I find it amazing because as an entrepreneur you don’t know what you don’t know. You might have thought you’ve thought of everything, but you just can’t anticipate things you’ve never come across,” Melody said. “Having these people with me, providing different perspectives, and because we have vastly different backgrounds and experience, it brings in a lot of new ideas.”

Just being at Innovation Works is something all three Success Buddies credit with making their entrepreneurial dreams a success.

Ben summed up their collective feelings about Innovation Works by saying it is a “high-trust, high-empathy space, which is what American entrepreneurs tried to engineer in Silicon Valley, just comes naturally to all the co-tenants.

“Coming here was instrumental to the company I’ve launched. The experience of collaborative stakeholdership has now been encoded into the DNA of my company and everything I do,” he said. “If I hadn’t been here, I would be on a drastically different path and I don’t know I would have enjoyed the success I have.”


Want to surround yourself with people like Melody, Garrett or Ben? Consider joining us at Innovation Works! Not sure if this is the right spot for you? Register for our Community BBQ to check out the space and meet some of our incredible co-tenants.