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Groover Labs Opening in Wichita

Groover Labs Opening in Wichita Groover Labs is a 42,000 square foot coworking center and maker space located in Old Town in Wichita.   Old Town is located on the eastern edge of Wichita’s downtown and is known for its eclectic-ness.  Many claim that Old Town is the neighborhood that sits as the anchor of the…

Groover Labs phot0

Groover Labs Opening in Wichita

Groover Labs is a 42,000 square foot coworking center and maker space located in Old Town in Wichita.   Old Town is located on the eastern edge of Wichita’s downtown and is known for its eclectic-ness.  Many claim that Old Town is the neighborhood that sits as the anchor of the startup revival in Wichita.

The nonprofit is the brainchild of Curt Gridley and Tracy Hoover. Gridley founded Amber Wave Systems, a venture-backed Boston startup that he sold to US Robotics for $50 million.

The two co-founders have invested $5 million in Groover Labs. They want Groover Labs to be a place where entrepreneurs take ideas from concept to market. While Wichita has other maker spaces, Groover Labs will be the only one to focus on product prototyping.

Prototyping is a key element of the discovery process.  In a traditional model map regarding the product development roadmap, it is typically the third step behind ideation, design, and then prototype.  According to Wikipedia “a prototype is an early sample, model or release of a product built to test a concept or process.”  Many startup ecosystems struggle to build companies because of a bottle neck in the prototyping process.  So, organizations like Groover Labs fill an important role in the development of startup ecosystems – providing space and expertise in building the first, flawed product.

Groover Labs will offer hotseats, dedicated desks, and private offices and will feature 14,000 square feet of maker space including a PCB assembly and electronics shop, a Tormach 3-axis CNC mill, a CNC plasma table, a stable of 3D printers and a wood shop with a CNC router table and more.

The Groover Labs team is also building a 275-person event center, and Wichita State University’s student-operated art gallery, ShiftSpace, has signed a lease with us.  This event space will be utilized for community space and available for rent.

We sat down with the founders of Groover Labs and asked them some simple questions.

Why are you starting Groover Labs?

We want to create a place to fuel collaboration and product development. Wichita is lucky to have existing maker spaces — and we’ve been lucky to be involved with them. We’re eager to build on that and offer a place where people can take ideas from concept to market — something that’s not really being done right now in Wichita. We hope Groover Labs, with coworking and maker space labs as well as event space, will create a community that not only encourages people to learn new skills but also take risks and launch startups.

Our background in technology — Curt founded Amber Wave Systems, a venture-backed Boston startup that he sold to US Robotics and Tracy worked as a software engineer at Hewlett-Packard — has allowed us an opportunity to pay it forward. Our Gridley Family Foundation is investing $5 million in Groover Labs, which will operate as a nonprofit.

Why in Wichita?

It’s our home.

Curt, who grew up in Kansas, went to college here. We moved back to Wichita in 2005 after making our careers in the Boston area. A lot of great companies and ideas have come out of Wichita because there are a lot of smart people here. But Wichita has some catching up to do, and we want to help drive the next big success story. We’re hoping to grow a culture at Groover Labs where anyone with heart and drive has the opportunity to innovate.

What does success look like?

A bustling community where our members contribute to and celebrate each other’s wins. We want to see high-fives in our conference and board rooms after successful Kickstarter campaigns, members huddled together working out solutions and figurative sparks in our fab lab and metal and wood shops. We want everyone at Groover Labs to feel invested — whether they have a hotseat where they work a few hours a week or a private maker space studio that they rarely leave.

How can the SPN community help you?

We love meeting like-minded folks who understand that startup culture is not limited to the coasts. Conserve your startup capital by doing your initial product development here. We’re in an Opportunity Zone, which opens up funding sources for startups that make their home at Groover Labs. We view Silicon Prairie News as an important way to connect with people who share our passion for innovation, technology and collaboration. We also want to be of service to the SPN community. We have space for your next workshop, class, or event.

Groover Labs is an excellent addition to the Wichita startup scene.  To discover more about the company, check out its website at www.grooverlabs.org.

Also, if you want more about the company or its founders, the Wichita Eagle wrote an excellent piece about the firm in early May when the new space was announced:  https://www.kansas.com/news/business/biz-columns-blogs/carrie-rengers/article229859894.html.

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