Entrepreneur co-op formed off-campus

By Robert Arenella, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 22, 2013

The Creators is a new co-op in town — and it has a celebrity benefactor.

The co-op was founded after Business and LSA senior Nancy Xiao, a member of MPowered, spoke at an alumni event in Cincinnati to generate support for entrepreneurial projects on campus. Former Michigan linebacker Dhani Jones, who also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, was intrigued by her speech and approached her afterward to talk about creating a student group to foster such endeavors.

“On this panel, I remember talking about this problem we had on campus, that we’re trying to solve, there was just no one place to go to meet like-minded people who were building great things,” Xiao, the co-op’s general manager, said.

Since the event, Jones and Xiao have worked together to form a group that encourages young entrepreneurs to follow through with their dream projects. Xiao has attracted six other students to the cause and they continue to have weekly discussions with Jones to continue growing the outfit.

The co-op is named for its mission to create a collaborative environment for students.

The co-op is not a part of the Inter-Cooperative Council and is not registered as a student group. Xiao said they decided not to affiliate to avoid narrowing the project's scope.

“It’s not a student organization. We thought it would be better if we weren’t so Ann Arbor focused … we wanted people to be focused on our people, not the place,” Xiao said.

This fall, Jones bought the group a house located at 631 Oxford Road, a property that used to be owned by the University’s Board of Regents. The four-story house has two floors of workstations and communal areas to foster the exchange of ideas, and a residential floor for leadership. Due to zoning laws, only four members are able to live in-house currently as they finish converting the building.

The organization will be accepting their first group of new members this fall. While other clubs accept students with varying levels of experience, The Creators will require more business-focused qualifications when considering applicants.

“We’re looking for … people that have kind of already hit that epiphany and have already started building an app or selling their first product,” Xiao said.