RALEIGH – Jason Widen, one of the original founders of the Raleigh-based coworking company Raleigh Founded, is launching a new venture.
Widen’s new company, called Blue Co., is a coworking and warehouse space designed for service-based businesses.
“I’ve spent the last ten years supporting the entrepreneurial landscape in a real way, and it’s very clear to me that the two ways to make generational wealth in this world right now are real estate and business ownership,” Widen told WRAL TechWire in an exclusive interview. “There are people being left out of those two generational wealth opportunities, in underrepresented communities especially. What better way to support them than meeting people where they are and creating a space with them?”
Widen has secured a lead investor in Sharefile founder Jesse Lipson and has also secured investment from the fast-growing Triangle Tweener Fund, a rolling fund affiliated with the Triangle Tweener List.
Lipson was also one of the original Raleigh Founded co-founders, and he recently made headlines for raising over $13 million for his latest startup, Levitate.
In an email interview, Lipson told me he’s “excited” to be an investor in Widen’s newest venture.
“Blue Co. is a logical extension of the work we’ve been doing over the past 10+ years at Raleigh Founded,” Lipson told me. “Service-based companies, tradespeople, and makers have been underserved in the market nationwide and we see a big opportunity to help them.”
While Raleigh Founded caters to tech professionals and startups, Blue Co. will offer unique amenities tailored to the needs of plumbers, landscapers, and other service-based companies, like dedicated fleet vehicle parking and shared storage space.
But according to Widen, the space will also foster a strong community atmosphere, extending the benefits of a coworking community — like collaboration, shared expertise, and pooled resources — to service industry entrepreneurs for the first time.
A coworking model for the service industry
In a press release announcing the new venture, Blue Co. was described this way:
“Blue Co. will provide service-based workers, tradespeople, small business owners, e-commerce companies, and food and beverage entrepreneurs with flexible and cost-effective warehousing solutions, complemented by shared workspaces, commercial vehicle parking, and tailored resources to meet their specific requirements.”
Widen also shared the news with members of the Raleigh Founded community.
“By removing barriers to growth, our mission is to empower service-based entrepreneurs in building wealth for their families and communities,” Widen wrote in a letter to the Raleigh Founded community.
Widen shared with me that he is excited to support the growth of service-based companies in the area with this innovative new space.
“I’ve been looking for what’s next, and I think I’ve found this unique take on space that is for these service-based businesses that want to scale, that are looking for a network, a community, a link to resources, that will help them scale,” Widen told me.
Blue Co.’s first two locations are in the works
Widen plans to open his first two locations this summer, with a goal of rapidly expanding throughout North Carolina and across the southeast, according to the press release.
Blue Co. recently leased two buildings in Raleigh, located at 510 and 517 Pylon Drive. The properties were leased from Stout Ventures with the assistance of Colliers’ industrial brokerage team, according to a recent press release from Colliers.
“We are proud to have worked with Stout Ventures, Capital Associates and Blue Co. to secure these two buildings in a prime location,” said Andrew Young, Senior Vice President at Colliers, in the press release. “The demand for well-located warehouse space is on the rise, and we are committed to helping our clients find the best solutions to meet their business needs.”
I spoke with Wes Johnson, Associate Principal at Capital Associates, the commercial real estate company that represented Blue Co. in the leasing deal. Johnson told me that the team looked at a number of options in the area.
“We explored various options, but the Pylon buildings checked all the boxes, including uniqueness and prime location,” Johnson told me.
Johnson also commented on the mission behind Widen’s new venture.
“Jason is creating a much-needed solution with Blue Co.,” said Johnson. “The type of flexible space being offered, along with the resources provided, is in demand but not currently available in our market.”
Learn more about Blue Co. at bluecowarehousing.com.