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A Room of Their Own
Business ideas and independence are in full bloom at Indiegrove
by Lana Rose Diaz
Oct 23, 2013 | 2656 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Even before the doors of Indiegrove were opened at the start of 2013, members were signed up and ready to get down to business at the new co-working space. Just a few steps away from Grove Street Plaza, Indiegrove is a bright, airy, fast-growing hub for entrepreneurship. The idea behind “co-working” is creating a shared work environment for independent contractors, freelancers, and work-at-home professionals as an alternative to working at homes, cafes, or libraries. The concept has been hot for quite a while in Europe and across the Hudson River in Manhattan, but it has now made its way to Jersey City, with all kinds of entrepreneurs and freelancers converging in this relaxed, eclectic, and affordable business environment.

“I’ve just been amazed at how that’s happened organically here,” says Zahra Amanpour, founder of Indiegrove. “I’m proud of the membership—this is community business. The seeds have been planted and now we’re growing.”

An entrepreneurial guru herself, Zahra, who lives in the Hamilton Park area, believes in the co-working model as a way for people to grow successful businesses. She worked with small businesses and non-profit organizations for several years in New York City and brings that experience to all the members she serves at Indiegrove.

Indiegrove also offers a wide array of business amenities to members—everything from meeting rooms and mailboxes to copy machines and complimentary coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.

A variety of events are held in the 6,000-square-foot space each month, which provide another level of support to entrepreneurs.

“I believe that connections are a huge part of success in business,” Zahra says.

Daris Wilson
Founder and Head Trainer, JCF Boot Camp
Resident of Jersey City
Indiegrove Member Status: Co-Worker

An early adopter of co-working in Jersey City, Daris Wilson began working at Indiegrove before the floors had even been laid down.

As creator of JCF Boot Camp, an outdoor fitness program for women, Daris uses the Indiegrove space as a place to organize, hold meetings, and even do weigh-ins with clients.

A sports team player all his life, Daris says he got the idea for his business in 2008 when he was creating a workout plan for his wife. He began crafting a fitness alternative to the traditional gym setting, and although it was intended only to be a four-week program, Daris says most of his clients stay on for a year and he even has some that have kept with it for three years.

As the success of the program grew, it wasn’t long before he left his full-time job working securities compliance at the New York Stock Exchange to follow his entrepreneurial spirit.

“I took a leap of faith,” says Daris. “I felt like it was something I had to do.”

Married, with a toddler at home, Daris, like most entrepreneurs and freelancers, was doing the business end of his work out of cafes. He found out about Indiegrove through Zahra, who was a member of his boot camp. He now has a central hub for his campus and a place to do consultations, and his close rate is up 75 to 85 percent.

“My efficiency is just way better,” he says. “I’m much more productive, which leads to being more profitable.”

Laura M. Fisher
Lawyer (Real Estate, Small Business, Estate Planning)
Resident of Bloomfield, N.J.
Indiegrove Member Status: Private Desk

While most lawyers’ days are harried and hectic, and Laura M. Fisher’s day starts just as early and ends just as late as any other lawyer, it’s the time in between that makes her day truly enviable.

Between client files and court hearings, Laura is one of Indiegrove’s most friendly and sociable butterflies, taking joy in stepping away from work for a moment, bouncing ideas off others in a multi-faceted collaborative network, and coming back to her desk with a fresh mind and clear eye for detail.

“I like the idea of being surrounded by people doing all different kinds of things,” she says. “When you work around other lawyers you can refer cases back and forth but you miss a little of the vibrancy of life that people from all backgrounds can give you. I think that we all benefit from being around each other.”

A resident of Bloomfield, N.J., Laura says she was attracted to Jersey City because of the special feel downtown.

“There’s so much to do and be excited about,” she says. “I think this section of Jersey City represents the hope of every city.”

Mark Nejmeh
Roofer and Eternal Entrepreneur
Resident of Bradley Beach, N.J.
Indiegrove Member Status: Company Co-working

Ask Mark Nejmeh what he does and he will humbly tell you he is a roofer. But stick around long enough to have a conversation with him and you will catch a glimpse of the entrepreneurial spirit at its best.

Mark, who has been in the roofing industry since he was 18 years old, started his first roofing company in 1983—doing millions of dollars worth of roofs on everything from schools to prisons.

He worked through college, graduating with a great deal of experience and what he calls the “least hirable” personality.

A consummate businessman, Mark now uses his roofing business to fund his other interests and ventures, which range from journalism to energy technology.

Though he lives down the shore, Mark decided to house his companies here in Jersey City because of the bustling community. Indiegrove was particularly enticing to him because, despite the open space, he felt it was a place that respects the much-needed privacy for businesses, especially when innovations are on the table.

“Your ideas are where the values are,” he says. “I’m a real American entrepreneur. Indiegrove understands the needs of entrepreneurs.”

He now has four of his employees working at Indiegrove Monday through Friday, his foot soldiers who advance the technology side of business while he is up on a roof somewhere. But he’s always happy to come down and return to the office.

“This place is better than home,” he says. “I hope there’s a lot of other Indiegroves out there. This is the way American businesses can get off the ground.”

Bill Murphy Jr.
Author, Journalist, Ghostwriter
Resident of Jersey City
Indiegrove Member Status: Private Desk

In the wee hours of the night, when there is nary a brightened window along downtown Jersey City’s business corridor, you may still see a glow coming from 121 Newark Ave. But don’t be frightened—it’s not a ghost, just a ghostwriter.

Bill Murphy Jr. has been known to pitter patter his way down the block from his home to Indiegrove to write whenever the mood strikes. And, like many writers, that usually happens in the middle of the night.

Bill, who ghostwrites for CEOs and writes a column for Inc. Magazine, has also written his own books (Breakthrough Entrepreneurship, The Intelligent Entrepreneur, and In a Time of War).

Prior to becoming a member at Indiegrove, Bill worked at “all kinds of weird spaces,” including a photography studio and architecture space.

He had even tried co-working in New York City, but that didn’t last very long.

“Part of the benefit of working for yourself is supposed to be you don’t have to commute,” he says.

He wanted to rent an office locally and share the space with others earlier this year when he found out Zahra was already doing essentially the same thing with Indiegrove.

“The space itself is great and it’s a good group of people,” says Bill. “Writing can be a solitary thing, sometimes it has to be. But co-working gets you in the frame of mind of having working relationships. The minor social stuff is important.”

Carlos Neira
Cinematographer/Editor, Iris Cinematics
Resident of Jersey City
Indiegrove Member Status: Private Office

Carlos Neira stumbled upon Indiegrove quite literally. Taking a break from working on a video one day, he and a colleague came down to Grove Street Plaza to find a food truck. What they found instead was a sign that said Indiegrove. [NOTE: It would only be “literally” if they actually stumbled.]

The 26-year-old cinematographer has been involved in film since his days at County Prep High School, where he graduated in 2004.

He was inspired to become an entrepreneur by watching others boldly follow their dreams—including a former math teacher and a director at the Food Network.

Carlos began his own company in 2011 and has been blessed with a growing business ever since. Being at Indiegrove, he says, has strengthened the business even more.

“It just added motivation,” Carlos says. “I see other co-workers working hard, and it makes me want to continue working hard.”

Now with its own private office at Indiegrove, Carlos says his company conveys a professional image and meets with clients in a comfortable, well-equipped space. They’ve even used the space as a backdrop in some videos.

And while everyone at Indiegrove may be working on his or her own projects, Carlos says there is truly a spirit of camaraderie.

“Being an independent spirit or an artist, there are times when you want to be a little lazy,” Carlos admits. “You just want to sit at home, catch up on your shows. But it’s uplifting knowing that there’s all of these energetic people that have been inspired to do what they do.”—JCM


Indiegrove121 Newark Ave.
(201) 589-2068

JCF Bootcamp
(201) 484-7848

Law Office of Laura M. Fisher
(201) 604-6036

Real Roofers
(732) 995-3914

Bill Murphy Jr.

Iris Cinematics
(201) 978-2191

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