At the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship, a physical workspace for business owners and startups is just the beginning of the support they receive within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“In our physical space, Zeal provides collaboration with like minded entrepreneurs in an organic fashion,” said Brienne Maner, the facility’s executive director. “The Zeal community offers many levels of support, connection, mentorship, professional resources, access to funding, and programming – much of which can be accomplished by way of our incredible staff.”

When it comes to the types of entrepreneurs that make up that ecosystem, Maner says the facility has something for everyone, whether they’re involved in software, biotech, human resources, or a number of other industries.

Check out Zeal’s current member directory for a glimpse at the diverse array of companies that make up the community.

Serving the needs of a clinical-stage pharma company through coworking

Take, for example, Dr. Ruth Wu-Wong. As co-founder of Vidasym, a clinical stage pharma company founded in Chicago, Dr. Wu-Wong recently relocated to South Dakota for its financial benefits and supportive business environment.

Vidasym aims to treat diseases with considerable unmet medical needs, and its initial focus is on chronic kidney disease complications and osteoporosis. Dr. Wu-Wong serves as the company’s chief scientific officer and brings with her a combination of scientific and financial expertise.

Dr. Wu-Wong received her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Ohio State University and her M.B.A. in finance and management from the University of Illinois. Prior to founding Vidasym, she spent a 21-year career with AbbVie (formerly Abbott Laboratories), where she was the lead scientist on novel-target programs including the vitamin D receptor modulator project.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 37 million American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease (CKD), though most are unaware that they have it. Vidasym hopes to complete three phases of clinical trials for the two compounds it’s studying, with the goal of developing treatments for unmet medical needs such as CKD.

With the relocation to Sioux Falls, Vidasym will be able to continue its growth trajectory with far less financial stress.

“Illinois was getting too expensive for a small biotech firm to conduct business,” Dr. Wu-Wong said. “Our board did some research and discovered South Dakota was a business-friendly state.’

Maner gave Wu-Wong an initial tour of the facility at the tail end of 2019, and in August of this year, she began her coworking membership.

“We ran through both scenarios, and we always want to do what’s right for the entrepreneur, depending on their needs and budget,” Maner said. “Ruth determined that it would make sense to start as a coworking member while the business grows, and at some point they’ll likely need a dedicated office space. Coworking makes financial sense—it’s incredibly affordable.”

But don’t let the affordability make you question the value of a Zeal coworking membership.

For $79.99 per month, members get access to the 1,000+ square foot coworking space on the main floor of the Zeal facility. This includes hot desks where members can hook into the network with personal computers, as well as two private offices for phone calls or meetings. Coworking members benefit from ultra-fast gigabit internet, powered by Midco, and access to the many expert resources within the Zeal facility and network.

Beyond the base level, coworking members can layer additional benefits like a mailbox or conference room rentals. Additionally, the Zeal team is currently working to add to its facility amenities with a podcast/video studio space and fitness area coming available in Q4 of 2020.

View a complete list of coworking member benefits here.

More than just a workspace

Maner emphasizes the value of community for a startup like Vidasym.

“One of the things our team does really well is keeping members connected and engaged, making sure they have what they need, and reminding them of their benefits,” Maner said. “You might seek support for one particular need and forget about the other perks that come along with the membership.”

Maner says getting entrepreneurs like Dr. Wu-Wong connected and up to speed in Sioux Falls is a top priority when they join the Zeal community. She made sure to introduce Dr. Wu-Wong to relevant connections within the facility right away, such as Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech.

“It’s just another huge benefit of becoming a member of our network,” Maner said. “We’re at the center of the business community.”

For Dr. Wu-Wong, joining a community like Zeal was a no-brainer when she relocated to Sioux Falls.

“We have always been affiliated with biotech incubators and non-profit organizations,” she said. “I’m glad Vidasym has joined Zeal, and we hope to make a contribution to the biotech sector in Sioux Falls.”

With Dr. Wu-Wong’s extensive scientific background and the important work Vidasym hopes to accomplish, the move to Sioux Falls and Zeal has potential for incredible impact.

“We were able to accommodate a woman with an incredible resume who relocated here from a major metro area in Chicago,” Maner said. “You’re always a little surprised when someone from a larger city is looking at Sioux Falls as a place to continue to grow their business. To me, that’s a huge win and a compliment to the tight-knit business community we have here—Sioux Falls really is making a name for itself.”

You can sign up for a coworking membership or register for a free day pass here, or reach out to Zeal’s Community Manager, Peter Hauck, at [email protected] with any questions.