The Un.Inc Co-Founder Ben Wright Gibson spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about his organization, which provides space for creative entrepreneurs to flourish.
NAN PRICE: Give us a little background. How did Un.Inc come to be and how has it evolved?
BEN WRIGHT GIBSON: It started in 2016 out of a little bungalow house in Austin, TX. We began with an in-person program serving creatives who were starting their first projects, nonprofits, and businesses. Our program brought creators together who we’d surround with communities and experts as they built and launched their first venture with us.
We’ve been doing it ever since, modifying and growing the program all along. Now we’ve put it onto an online platform called Un.Inc Campus, where we work with municipalities, universities, and coworking spaces.
NAN: What’s the connection to Connecticut? How are you building relationships with local arts organizations here?
BEN: We’re building those relationships through conversations and community outreach. We’re trying to keep our programming as local as we possibly can. We think building real community around artists helps them find leads for their business. And having mentorship from people with experience in their areas is super important.
For instance, Un.Inc had a conversation with Tricia Haggerty Wenz, Director of Development at Real Art Ways. We asked her to become a mentor because she has so much experience opening her first gallery in upstate New York.
We also reached out to Andre Rochester, a very well-known artist in the Hartford area, and Program Manager-Artists of Color Accelerate Fellowship at The 224 EcoSpace. He’s going to be mentoring and talking about what’s my voice and who’s my client.
NAN: How are you helping to incubate creativepreneurs?
BEN: Ironically, we’re the un-incubator. We like to think of ourselves as the opposite of your typical fast-growth tech startup scene and an incubator for everybody else, basically.
The program is much more about relationship building. We hold philosophies like, facilitation before training. So, we facilitate conversations between the mentors and the participants and provide frameworks as they go along.
Another philosophy is we hold safe space for creatives as they build and launch their first projects, because they’re often experiencing a lot of fear. We’re cultivating a culture that’s going to be a healthy place for them to stretch and try new things and move through fears.
NAN: What’s the benefit of participating in the Un.Inc program?
BEN: It can be a lonely, isolating experience if nobody around you understands that you’re trying to be an artist, or start an art business, or launch something new. The main takeaway is feeling supported and having community around you as you’re on this journey.