Entrepreneurship Living and Learning Community (E-House) residents toured the Switchyards Downtown Club (SDC), a 19,000-square-foot historic 1920s renovated building located downtown. SDC is part workspace, part coffee shop, part event series and part incubator. SDC is a members-only gathering place to accelerate learning and build beautiful products, and focuses exclusively on startups for consumers. The tour was led by founder Michael Tavani.
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On a hot and sweltering day at the peak of an Atlanta afternoon, my E-House members and I were walking down an alley adjacent to the Atlanta Public Library. As we approached our destination, we were greeted by an inconspicuous building that looked just like any other office building in Atlanta. But, in a glowing, soft and red light it read, “Made with Soul in Atlanta.” This building is called the Switchyards Downtown Club, a co-working and coffee shop for entrepreneurs and their startups. Some entrepreneurs have their own desk and office space while others find and occupy the other nooks and crannies available throughout the building. Upon arriving, we needed to wait to gain access inside because you need a membership to gain entry into the building. After being granted access we were greeted with the sweet smell of handcrafted coffee from the in-house coffee shop, completely complimentary to the members. Alternative pop music played from the speakers and the sounds of chatter made the space feel warm and social. The owner and founder, Michael Tavani, greeted each of us individually and engaged in small talk with the rest of the group.
When two o’clock had rolled around, it was time for the tour. He first opened up by explaining the founding of the original building and the history behind the formation of “clubs” in cities. Clubs were mainly spaces where people with shared interests came together and created a little community around it. When Mr. Tavani had the idea of creating Switchyards, he wanted to keep that theme but focus it on the startup culture. We then commenced exploring the rest of the building and saw the magic that was being rekindled in this revamped 1920s renovation. Businesses had their names printed and taped to their prospective designated spaces, one person had t-shirt designs on display, and others were focused doing work on their computers. Depending on your budget or the needs of your company, there are numerous accommodations to choose from. The building and atmosphere encourage productivity. After finishing the tour, my fellow E-House members and I felt more energized and compelled to work on our ideas or working towards coming up with one. To be given the opportunity to see people working on their own businesses made the idea of being an entrepreneur more tangible and real. Hopefully we will have our own little spot in Switchyards soon.
The Switchyards Downtown Club is an amazing place and I am really glad our Living and Learning Community had the opportunity to tour it. The owner of the club gave us a tour of all four levels of the building, which includes a basement of mini-offices, a lobby level with a coffee station and two upper levels with private offices. The club is made for entrepreneurs who have a startup business or are creating one. I really enjoyed the tour and the setup within the club. It was a very open, hardworking and encouraging environment. It actually motivated me to take more strides to begin my own business and to not give up because there is hope. The trip also showed me that there are people out there also risking a lot to follow their dream of owning their own company despite the naysayers. I really enjoyed the trip and can’t wait for more events within the Living and Learning Community!