Old McKinney cotton mill now home to entrepreneurs with big dreams

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 5:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 7:53 PM

McKINNEY — Eager entrepreneurs with dreams of starting their own high-tech businesses in McKinney now have a place to set up shop.

The Collide Center, located in an old cotton mill at 610 Elm Street, already has 13 start-ups working out of it in its first month of existence. It’s designed to create new, quality jobs.

Sudy Bharadwaj is an entrepreneur with a dream: Helping one million people get new jobs before 2015. He started a web-based company called Jackalope Jobs.

"A typical job-seeker has to run through thousands of job listings, dozens of job boards, and if they're doing it right, dozens of social connections," Bharadwaj said. "That can take hours, and sometimes days. We do that in a few seconds."

Bharadwaj is working out of the Collide Center, a program started by the McKinney Economic Development Corporation. It gives entrepreneurs a place to work with no rent for the first three months.

"Ultimately, what you're looking for is job creation," said John Valencia, who oversees the program. "So if they can take their product, develop it here, grow their businesses here, being able to move into real-life businesses themselves, obviously, we would like them to stay here."

Gerard Ibarra's start-up business helps companies reduce risk by setting up emergency notification systems. Ibarra said the center gives entrepreneurs like him opportunity to meet investors.

"Being in the start-up world, you can't just pick up a phone and call an investor," Ibarra said. "The best way to get in there is through an introduction, or them knowing about you. So that's very huge for us."

It’s huge for McKinney, too, where city leaders are banking on the Collide Center giving start-ups a better chance of success, which will mean more jobs.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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