Catapult propels Lakeland businesses

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Catapult strives to help aspiring entrepreneurs reach their dreams.

Samantha Zimmerman

Catapult, which is known to many in the Lakeland community as simply a co-working space, strives to help local entrepreneurs kick-start their businesses through workshops and funding.  

Located only minutes from downtown Lakeland at 331 S. Florida Ave., Catapult is a non-profit backed by the Lakeland Economic Development Council (LEDC) as they aim to foster growth and support startups in the Central Florida area.  

As Catapult continued to grow, they purchased a larger space in downtown Lakeland which is being renovated to provide their members with everything needed to facilitate product development.  This new location will be opening within the next year and will allow Catapult to assist even more entrepreneurs in pursuing their dreams.  

Catapult’s new space located on E. Main Street will include 24,000 sq. feet of co-working/private office space and 9,000 sq. feet of makers space including a word-working studio, leather-working area and a fully equipped design studio.  The new building will also feature an upgraded commissary kitchen for entrepreneurs in the food industry, which will be upgraded from its current 125 sq. feet to over 5,000 square feet. 

The space offers a variety of co-working memberships which range from $75-$250 per month. The most basic membership includes use of the collaborative co-working space and five hours of private room rental per month, while the more advanced memberships include dedicated desks, semi-private office space and even use of a commissary kitchen.  

Use of the semi-private office space is limited, and Catapult’s goal is that its members will only use these offices temporarily until they get their business to the point where they can expand and open an office space of their own. 

A number of extremely successful businesses in the Lakeland area got their start at Catapult, including Boondock Studios, 801 E. Main, Born + Bread, Haus 820 and Patriot Coffee.  Many of Catapult’s “wins” have been possible thanks to micro-grants they are able to provide to these aspiring entrepreneurs, which are funded through the LEDC by nine local banks.  

These micro-grants are given out quarterly as Catapult invites its startups to pitch to the banks why they are requesting the grant to help propel their businesses.  Three entrepreneurs are then selected to each receive a $10,000 micro-grant, which does not have to be paid back.  

“It’s really incredible that we’re able to give out these grants,” Membership Director Connor Lockhart said.  “I’ve been to pitch nights at larger co-working spaces in Tampa where members only have a minute or two to pitch their business and only one grant is awarded, so we’re lucky to be able to give out three micro-grants and really help build our community.”  

Another way Catapult helps members of the community learn about what it takes to create and sustain a successful business is through their “Co.Starters” program.  Co.Starters is a nine week program that meets weekly and assists new business owners by teaching them about building relationships with their customers and business models, while also accounting for growth and how to advance as they move forward.  The program is open to both members and non-members and the pricing includes course materials and one-on-one mentoring.  

“Catapult really is a startup for startups looking to help the small business community as best we can,” Lockhart said.  

Catapult’s staff is looking forward to the company’s expansion and are always open for those interested in touring the facility to get a feel for the space.

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