by Zaria Sims for Urban Mindz
Without a doubt, The Gathering Spot is the first of its kind, as it is one of the fastest-growing private clubs in Atlanta’s professional network. Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen, co-founders of The Gathering Spot, are largely recognized as the pioneers of private minority-based membership clubs for corporate professionals. It’s a beautiful facility located next to Georgia Tech and has become the go-to spot for go-getters and self-starters to link up and create together. The Gathering Spot will soon be opening its second location in Washington, D.C., and shortly afterward, they plan to open an additional location in Los Angeles.
How they did it
In an interview with Forbes, Ryan and TK spoke about their experience raising capital for The Gathering Spot following their graduation from Georgetown University. After graduating, the two former roommates brainstormed on building a center where Black creatives, entrepreneurs, and others could network, host workshops, and collaborate on projects. While Ryan worked his way through law school and TK began his career in finance, the pair met up for nearly two years, during evening hours, to work on their plan.
When it was time to begin fundraising, Ryan told Forbes, “We spent the remainder of my two years in law school building it out and raising capital. So in total, we had to raise $3 million, and we did that while I was finishing law school.” When Forbes asked TK about partnerships, raising money, and bootstrapping, TK responded, “Initially, we were bootstrapping, but the bulk of the money that we raised was a friend’s and family round. We went to people in our network and pitched the idea as frequently and with as much passion as possible. After quite a few no’s, we were finally able to get a few yes’s and that’s how we were able to raise the money in that two-year time frame.”
Ryan also admitted during a podcast with Jarmarlin Martin, of GHOGH, that during their efforts to get The Gathering Spot off the ground, he and TK received 96 no’s from 96 of their pitches, before getting their first YES from a financial supporter. After that, there was no turning back.
What are the benefits of The Gathering Spot?
The Gathering Spot provides space for entrepreneurial innovators to work, network, and collaborate, all under the same roof. Co-working space is only one of the key components to the business model of the center. Ryan and TK make it easy for their members to have access to a stimulating environment where business owners align with other like-minded professionals in an array of different settings.
A membership at The Gathering Spot includes:
Access to a professional co-working space, multiple conference rooms, and podcasting studios
Access to event spaces inside the facility where members can host anything from discussion panels, book readings, or an artist showcase
Access to a gourmet restaurant and open bar for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Not only can members host their own events, they also have access to attend special, curated events hosted by The Gathering Spot’s event team.
Big brands such as Coca-Cola, Spotify, Netflix, Google, and many others have utilized the space to host corporate branding and community events. In addition, celebrities like Usher, Angela Yee, T.I., Anthony Hamilton, David Banner, and others have all hosted events specifically tailored for members. Their exclusive memberships unite thriving professionals from the entertainment, business, and social networking worlds. They have also collaborated with political figures such as Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottom, and former mayor Andrew Young.
As a new investor in the A3C Festival and Conference that brings hip hop executives, artists and creatives together, Ryan is expanding his commitment to foster a community where like-minded professionals and creatives can come together to learn, network and collaborate for the greater good of the culture. And to ensure that members of The Gathering Spot had the opportunity to experience this year’s 15th anniversary of the A3C Festival and Conference, they were surprised with free passes to attend any of the events October 8-13th.
So how do you become a member of The Gathering Spot?
Membership to The Gathering Spot is by invitation only. Therefore, applicants must first visit their website at www.thegatheringspot.com and request a membership invitation. After the successful completion of the online application, applicants will be notified if they will be scheduled for an interview.
As a private organization seeking membership from qualified professionals and creatives, the vetting process is very thorough. Therefore, once making it through the first round of interviews, applicants will advance to a second round where a final decision will be made.
Since the Atlanta, GA location is nearly to capacity and many are applying to gain membership, those outside of the Atlanta area may want to keep their eyes peeled for one of the new locations coming to Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles, CA.