The Coven, a Minneapolis-based, female-focused co-working space, has raised more than $200,000 on a crowdfunding platform for women-owned businesses and beat its second fundraising goal since the campaign’s kickoff in October.
To date, the business has raised $209,960 from 189 backers on iFundWomen, a new crowdfunding platform that donates a portion of its profits to women-owned startups. The Coven started its fundraising campaign about four months ago and reached its initial $100,000 goal within four weeks, co-founder Erinn Farrell told Minne Inno. The North Loop-based co-working company then decided to double its goal, and now hopes to raise another $50,000 before its spring launch.
“We felt optimistic because we had done our homework,” Farrell said. “But it’s exceeded our expectations. There’s clearly an immense and overwhelming need for a space like this.”
The Coven has a soft-launch of its space for the 132 founding members slotted for February, and a full launch planned the following month. Coven memberships cost $1,800 annually, and include perks like access to workspace, speakers and a one-month free membership at Alchemy, a local gym.
Farrell, the chief operations officer of Minneapolis media production company On Being Studios, started The Coven with Bethany Iverson, Liz Giel and Alex West-Steinman. All four women are active in the local advertising community, which is how they met, Farrell said.
Conscious of their shared industry and experiences, the four founders wanted to make sure The Coven was home to women of all ages and backgrounds, not just advertising. As the project was taking off last summer, they interviewed hundreds of women and hosted a series of “witching hours” where potential members could connect.
Why give this collective a name typically reserved to describe a group of witches?
“We believe that the power and magic of the space comes from its wide diversity of backgrounds,” Farrell said. “We love the name. We wanted something that had teeth to it.”
Buzzwords like “diversity” and “inclusivity” are easy and obvious additions to a startup mission statement, but they’re not always easy to execute, especially in Minnesota, which was recently ranked as the second worst state for racial inequality.
“The community here is incredible and progressive in so many ways, but it has real inequities,” Farrell said. “In terms of population density, it’s going to be easier to find diversity somewhere like New York City. So we had to ask ourselves ‘How can we bring that here?'”
“We deserve a space like this – we think there’s a need here.”
Coven founders hope to address this problem through their “scholarship program,” which gives out one free year-long membership for every five women that sign up for a paid membership. The business isn’t targeting a particular group with these scholarships, Farrell said, but hopes it includes women who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a co-working membership. This could include single mothers, recent graduates or women starting a new career. So far, The Coven has awarded 25 of these memberships, Farrell said.
Women-only co-working spaces saw traction soon after launching on the East Coast. New York-based The Wing launched in 2016 billing itself as a social club and co-working space for women in New York City’s Flatiron District. Demand was so high that the waitlist for the $2,350 annual Wing membership was 8,000 people long.
“The Midwest often gets skipped over for these kinds of opportunities,” Farrell said. “We deserve a space like this – we think there’s a need here.”