Each week, staff writer Paul Wood profiles a high-tech difference maker. This week, meet MARISSA SIERO, who is innovating in shared business space as the director of Workplace at Lodgic Everyday Community, a shared business space in south Champaign, and was also the co-founder of the breakthrough design firm IntelliWheels, which had its origins at the University of Illinois.
Tell us about Lodgic.
This is a national brand roll-out. First one is in Champaign. Moose International is using this model and replicating it, tailoring it for communities.
Is it here because Champaign is a high-tech community?
Champaign-Urbana is such a dynamic and vibrant community! Personally, I am not surprised that after a nationwide search, Moose International selected C-U to launch their first location for Lodgic Everyday Community. C-U was chosen because we are a micro-urban community in a medium-sized city with deep roots in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.
How are locations chosen?
Moose International spent a lot of time and energy researching where they wanted to launch. Over a year ago, they invited members of the Champaign-Urbana community in for focus-group interviews. I believe C-U's tech community, spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship impacted Moose's decision to launch in Champaign.
Where is Lodgic's local space?
Lodgic Everyday Community is located at 1807 S. Neil St., C. We are accessible via three bus stops, have plenty of free parking, and even have indoor bike parking. Located across from the UI, the Research Park, and right next to the Small Business Development Center, Lodgic is in an ideal location to serve the C-U community. Lodgic Everyday Community offers fantastic workspaces, including private offices for busy professionals through Workplace, flexible childcare through our Kids Camp and amazing food from our Clever Moose Market Café and Everyday Kitchen.
How does one become a member?
Everything you need to become a Lodgic member can be found on our website, lodgic.org, which provides pricing information for our flexible memberships and offices. Once you set up a member account, you can buy your membership, reserve rooms and soon be able order food from the website. We welcome everyone in the community to come in and tour Lodgic during our hosted hours from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. As part of our grand-opening celebration, we committed to offering free Coworking Fridays until the end of the year, where anyone is welcome to come in and work at Lodgic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's a great way to see if Lodgic is the right fit for you and your business.
The Lodgic model offers workspace, flexible childcare and all-day food and drink. How does this synergize?
The Moose have a long history of serving working families through Moose Lodges around the country. As they grow, they want to also serve today's families. We know that the standard nine-to-five working schedule is a thing of the past for many families. So many of today's workers live far from home, have flexible work schedules and are tackling entrepreneurial projects in addition to raising active families.
How are service to be offered selected?
When Moose International was conceptualizing how they could serve the modern family, children and community, they identified specific needs families have and really worked hard to find solutions for each of them under one roof. By having our vibrant Workplace, amazing Kids Camp, fitness facility through Pursuit Fitness and our nourishing restaurants Everyday Kitchen and Clever Moose Market Café, we really can serve C-U's diverse community.
What's a day like?
Working parents can drop their children off at Kids Camp, a licensed daily childcare center for children ages 1 to 12. Then they can check into Workplace for a business meeting, have great food delivered from Clever Moose Café (right to their private office or workspace), wrap up the meeting, get a great workout at Pursuit Fitness, use our private locker room to shower and freshen up, then pick up their children and meet their partner in Everyday Kitchen to enjoy a great dinner as a family. It serves so many needs under one roof.
Lodgic enables you to maximize your day. You don't have to drive across town to get to the gym, or rush to get home in time to meet the baby sitter, or work from your car.
Is your day-care service open? Can users rent space for children's parties?
Kids Camp is open, along with all of our areas. Families are welcome to come by anytime we're open to tour it. We're also happy to schedule more in-depth info sessions with Director Cherie Mondrella and our wonderful teachers. Kids Camp is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays. It is DCFS licensed, flexible and hourly. You don't have to have a reservation, and you only pay for the number of hours your family needs. There's no minimum number of hours.
In the coming year, we'll begin offering bookings for children's parties, so stay tuned to our Facebook page for more details.What are some of the other resources you offer?
Lodgic Workplace has so many great amenities, there are too many to list here! For example, we have a copy/mail/print center featuring everything from paper cutters to packing supplies. We have call booths with sound-insulating doors and beautiful photographic backgrounds so you can have quiet video conferences or record your podcasts in style. We have lockers available for members so they don't have to tote their belongings around all day. We have fun amenities too, like sparkling water on tap. We have members-only happy hours and fun training workshops. We also have beautiful rooms for meetings, nontraditional spaces like our campfire or Workplace lounge for more casual gatherings and an event hall that can host up to 125 people. We also have very a wonderful team of people to make everything a little bit easier for our guests, like Workplace hosts and helpful special-event coordinators who can assist in planning your event.
About 70 percent of the menu at your cafe and restaurant is regionally sourced. How does that work?
We have a great team that is committed to supporting local and regional businesses as much as possible. Food and Beverage Manager Jillian Bauer and Executive Chef David Baysinger worked diligently to meet with local producers and vendors and find as many local options as possible. Chef Dave and our executive sous chef, Jared Bastion, are creating amazing dishes from these fresh ingredients. Clever Moose Market Café has fresh juices, smoothies, all-day breakfast options and a signature Lodgic blend of coffee from Columbia Street Roastery. Our spitfire grill in Everyday Kitchen roasts the most delicious chicken and pork shoulder. Our Everyday Burger is a fan favorite. The sausage-and-kale pasta is my personal favorite; it fills me up and keeps me going on busy days. Everyday Kitchen offers a great brunch on Sundays starting at 10:30 a.m. It is a wonderful way to try Everyday Kitchen.
Who is on the local team?
The Lodgic team is dynamic, creative and very hospitable. Jori Orsini is our fearless leader and executive director; Nick Romito is our business manager and jack of all trades. Cherie Mondrella is the director of Kids Camp; she has 30 years of experience in early-education curriculum development and has been with Moose International for five years. Angela Balcor is our community-engagement director and has done a great job connecting with the C-U community. Jillian Bauer is our food-and-beverage manager, and she and Betsy Waller oversee both Clever Moose and Everyday Kitchen. You can find me in Lodgic Workplace. I have the privilege of being the director of Workplace, overseeing internal programming, co-working, memberships and offices.
What's your best advice for someone who's starting up?
Don't be afraid. There are too many people who let fear or self-doubt get in the way. No one begins an entrepreneurial journey knowing all the right answers. It is important for entrepreneurs to be able to find a balance between being open and receptive to advice and knowing when to hold firm to their vision. We are so fortunate to live in such an amazing community where you can find support, guidance and mentorship on every step of starting a business. Unlike the coasts, Silicon Valley, or the big cities, the cost of living in C-U is more affordable and enables people to take a chance on their business or pursue their idea.
What does an entrepreneur need?
No matter what, passion is a must. Having a startup or pursuing your entrepreneurial dream is very difficult. Society likes to glamorize entrepreneurship, but it is often not sexy. It is a rough-and-tumble path and you will most likely face challenges, doubt and unforeseen difficulties throughout your journey. Being filled with passion for your idea is necessary to be able to pull you through the tough times. Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is important, as is finding ways to be kind to yourself.
Did you ever make any mistakes that you learned from in your early years?
There are things I look back on and simply shake my head, thinking how or why I did things one way or another. Mistakes are all part of learning; if you can learn from your mistakes and you aren't repeating the same mistakes, you are growing. I think it is helpful to be honest with yourself and know that it is OK to reach out when you need assistance or need to consult with an expert. Building a fantastic network can help strengthen you and could help avoid some mistakes especially when you are first starting up. Again, being supported by fantastic mentors in C-U helped me get back up anytime I fell flat on my face.
TECH TIDBITS ... from MARISSA SIERO
Do you have interests in social media? Facebook to show off my adorable baby! Yes, I am one of those moms.
Are your startups on any of them? You can follow Lodgic on Instagram (@lodgiceveryday), Twitter (@lodgiceveryday), Facebook (@LodgicChampaign), LinkedIn (@lodgic-everyday-community/) and Google Plus. You can also find our Snapchat filters if you're in the area. Everyday Kitchen and Clever Moose each have their own Facebook pages, as well (@EverydayKitchenChampaign and @CleverMooseChampaign).
What's your favorite app? I recently discovered an app called PulsePoint. It shows the emergency calls throughout the county; it will also alert you if there is a person having a cardiac emergency in your proximity. I like it because my husband is a new member of the Champaign Fire Department and it gives me some perspective of how his shift went. More so, I like that PulsePoint connects more people and encourages people to be active in providing CPR in emergencies.
On Facebook I follow ... The Champaign Public Library, TEC Technology Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Illinois, The SBDC — Champaign, Broadway Food Hall, Moon Grove Farms, Smile Politely and ChambanaMoms — mostly local organizations to keep up with all the great things going on in and around town.
Book or Kindle? What are you reading right now? Book, but unfortunately, I have been pretty busy with work and being a new mom. My book wish list has been growing. I hope to find time to curl up with a good book soon.
Do you have any wearable electronics? Apple Watch — super helpful to have a hands-free option when on the go, juggling work or the baby.
Do you have an entrepreneurial hero? I'm thankful for the strong female leaders in the C-U community: Lori Gold Patterson, Laura Frerichs, Mayor Deb Feinen, Carly McCrory, Liz Kellner, Rhiannon Clifton, Jen Quinlan, Stephanie Larson, Stephanie Pitts-Noggle and Cynthia Faullin. In times of doubt or difficulty, I find inspiration, support and advice.