CIE rebrands as Co:Lab

By Duwayne Escobedo

FloridaWest revealed a new name and new branding Wednesday for its Gulf Coast Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship or CIE for short.

It’s new name is Co:Lab and like its young and innovative companies the branding pops with energy, bright blue colors and a squiggly, flowing Florida logo.

Veronique Zayas of Hatchmark, a Co:Lab participant, and Tracy Crowell of Crowell Consulting unveiled the new catchy look and program website in its “Reinnovating the CIE” presentation.

“We know reinnovate is not a word but it’s kind of cool,” Crowell said.

The program’s mission is to assist new, innovative, high-growth companies experience success and grow to employ even more people from the Pensacola area. The branding plays on the “Co:” in the new name with words like Co:llaboration, Co:mmunity, Co:working and Co:ffee.

Begun in 2008, FloridaWest oversees the business incubator and its partner, Pensacola State College, provides 15,000-square feet of office space at its downtown campus. During its eight-year history, the program has helped grow 27 local companies employing more than 100 Pensacola area residents.

Help comes in the form of monthly presentations, “Founders Talks,” and Taco Thursdays to encourage networking. Co:Lab already has six companies that have “graduated” from the program: Analyst Group, Engineering and Planning Resources, Robotics Unlimited, Pay Sell, Clearstream and ReVera Services.

Rod Lewis of Hexad Analytics said the mentoring that’s offered and the ability to collaborate among the 12 current Co:Lab members has been invaluable to his company that makes complicated statistics, such as demographic information, more accessible and easy to understand for end users. Lewis said the start-up has done business with state and local governments, such as Kansas, Georgia, Arkansas and Florida. It is currently working with Miami and Palm Beach.

“It’s a great opportunity for small businesses,” Lewis said. “For us the best part is the connections. You meet people you never would have met. Everyone is going through the same process, which assists you in moving forward.”

For Travis Goins, who had a 20-year career in the Air Force, the office space provided by PSC is a big plus for his company, EBI Management Group. It provides a furnished office with all the amenities of a typical office space, such as a conference room with video/audio equipment, high-speed WiFi, a kitchen and breakroom, and office equipment. Co:Lab charges its tenants a cheap $10 per square feet.

“It’s helped us by giving us space in downtown,” Goins said. “We can focus on growing our business.”

FloridaWest’s Kelly Reeser oversees Co:Lab.

“We can provide the atmosphere for companies to flourish and succeed,” Reeser said. “A lot of companies here are really Pensacola’s next big thing.”