Office Envy: Inside VCET, a Co-Working Space & Fund for Vermont Startups (VCET BostInno Feature)
By Lucia Maffei
This is the third story in our “Inno on the Road: Burlington” series, which is running several stories on Burlington (and Vermont) startups the week of August 13, 2018.
The facade of the VCET building on Burlington’s Main Street is plain; If I didn’t already know that this was a prominent co-working space for Burlington startups, I’d have mistaken it for the local RMV.
The stairs lead visitors to a completely different world; a well-lit open space with all the quintessential features of a startup co-working space. There’s the inevitable ping pong table, a variety of comfy couches and a half sphere shaped chair (that usually comes with a frenetic guy typing on his laptop). Overall, VCET’s interior design boils down to a few key features: the orange color, dark panels of wood and two office themes, dinosaurs and comic books.
VCET was founded in 2005 by UVM, which asked local entrepreneurs what resources they needed to thrive. They brought up two requests: seed funding and an affordable co-working space.
Today’s VCET is a combination of the two. As an independent non-profit organization, the place offers seed funding, three co-working spaces and startup mentoring and networking resources. Overall, VCET hosts 180 members across its three locations on Main Street, at UVM and at Middlebury College, for a total of 30-40 startups.
Membership is free for students. During the application process, prospective members are asked questions such as “How do you see contributing to our ecosystem?”; all new members are expected to become an active part of the preexistent community.