757 Collab’s Spring Social Recap

May 13, 2024
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Connecting innovators and creators to inspire entrepreneurial collaboration.

Assembly’s rooftop transformed into a sun-soaked celebration of the 757’s entrepreneurial successes as some of the brightest dreamers and makers in the region gathered alongside other founders, mentors, investors and creatives during our recent Spring Social event. By linking innovators up with social and venture capital, Spring Social furthered 757 Collab’s mission to grow and diversify the Hampton Roads economy by forging lasting connections in an atmosphere teeming with inspiration and ideas. This event was made possible with production support from Coffee Black.

Hundreds of Hampton Roads visionaries and business moguls mingled while enjoying a vibrant display of art, taste, sound together on a bluebird spring evening, marking the highest attendance of this event to date. Our very own Kierra Underwood – Manager of Innovation Partnerships at 757 Collab – brought a secret sauce this go ‘round, infusing celebration with connectivity in a more lively way than prior events.

Underwood’s vision for the event was led by a desire to uplift the entrepreneurial successes going on in Hampton Roads by fostering a buzzing environment while sowing seeds of inspiration for further collaboration. Attendees chose a color-coded name tag upon arrival according to their niche – founder, builder, mentor, creative, etc. – in order to enhance networking opportunities and honor the array of skill sets present. 

Introductions by Coffee Black and Kierra Underwood, Manager of Innovation Partnerships 757Collab

Networking and Food

Laughs, memories and life updates were shared between a number of attendees who were previous cohort members of 757 Startup Studios and the mentors, angels and board members they were reconnected with. The evening kicked off with a delectable hors d’oeuvres offering from local chef Kip Moore of Yorkie’s and The Crop Foundation, using vibrant, seasonal ingredients and making a nod to previous 757 Startup Studios program participant Tahjere Lewis, founder of Aunt Carol’s Sauce.

Another previous program participant, Christina Kimbrough, founder of Free Life LLC, attended last year’s event as a 757 Startup Studios cohort member with a passion for changing the climate surrounding alcohol at social events. This year, she saw her passion realized as she launched her nonalcoholic pop-up bar on the rooftop.

“It was so well received, and [we] made some great connections. Social capital is what really matters, and [757 Startup Studios] has introduced me to so many people in the community.”

Christina Kimbrough, Free Life LLC

Dave Reisch and Josh Shelly, co-founders of Sunset Messages and previous cohort members of 757 Startup Studios, enjoyed catching up at the event and reflected on their business journey as they connected with a previous mentor. They described the network access they gained by being affiliated with 757 Collab as being invaluable and said that sharing spaces with other creative and driven entrepreneurs can be a game changer for business motivation and success. 

Music and Art

Local band, Critical Space Theory

Cay Turner, lead singer of local band Critical Space Theory, shared the essence of the evening perfectly by reminding attendees that “all of us made decisions that led us to the same room tonight.” Guests got to witness history as Critical Space Theory took the stage for the first-ever full band featured in a ‘Live from the Living Room’ production by Social Supply, a local entertainment and media collective who has amassed a sizable online following through sharing live-recorded sets of their DJs in various living rooms. Filming this performance during Spring Social was a unique way to take the creative synergy happening in the 757 beyond the Assembly rooftop and unto a global audience, and furniture provided by Coastal Mod gave the set the perfect mid-century modern living room feel. When Critical Space Theory wasn’t playing, Social Supply DJ gia kept the good vibes going.

“We’ve always wanted to do something that serves everyone well. Connecting the youth to 757 Collab to find out what they’re about means a lot to us,”

Ivan Vasquez, Co-owner of Social Supply
Artist Chris Green next to his featured painting that welcomed guests when they arrived

A curated exhibition of local art hung a captivating backdrop for the night’s energy. When guests arrived at Assembly, they were greeted by artists sharing their work in a variety of mediums on the first floor, and more stunning work awaited them as the elevator doors opened on the rooftop, like the thought-provoking depiction of sunflowers sprouting from a person’s brokenness by local artist Chris Green

Upcoming Events

The distinctive cuisine, music and art of the night each played a role in sparking meaningful conversation and ultimately pointed back to what we’re about at 757 Collab: supporting founders by connecting them to the people and resources they need to be successful. And for us, that support always comes in the form of community first. If you’re ready to take the next step in becoming part of the 757 startup ecosystem, check out our upcoming events for more networking opportunities. We’ll see you at the next one!