The Mercer Innovation Center
I sit in my office in the Innovation Center, knowing the time has come. My walls are covered in quotes that have motivated me over the past year and a half. Quotes that have lifted me up when times were tough and quotes that humbled me when times were great. My walls are covered with to do lists and a Monday - Friday schedule of coffee that needed to be shipped. My walls are covered with the names of businesses that I hoped to one day serve. My walls are covered with diagrams, reminding me of my long term goals day after day. My wall has a picture I printed on a white piece of paper over a year ago - a picture of two men digging for gold: one man has given up, not knowing he's only a few inches away - the other man is still going, though he has quite the distance left to go.
It's a sad day for me. No one will ever understand how appreciative I am of this space - how appreciative I am to have had an office at the MIC - how appreciative I am that Mrs. Howard, Dean Gilbert, and everyone else affiliated with the MIC believed in me and believed in Z Beans. From the popcorn popper - to the chicken rotisserie roaster - to the 4,000lb shipment - to the 14,000lbs, Mrs. Howard was always supportive of Z Beans. Whatever I had to do to get the job done, she allowed. I remember when I returned from Ecuador this past summer - I didn't have a place to stay. Though Mrs. Howard saw my suitcase every single day for a month outside of my office, she never asked me any questions. She knew I was doing whatever I needed to make ends meet. Now, I don't know if she knew this or not, but I was sleeping in the back conference room of the MIC. I did so for multiple nights.
The MIC has become my home - literally and figuratively. I was fortunate enough to win the MIC Fellowship. With the fellowship, I could stay in the MIC for another year, receive funding for my business, and receive free housing. I decided to stay in the spare bedroom inside the MIC. I figured I'd never have to deal with traffic on my way into work in the morning... I still live in the MIC, and I will be doing so until that time comes to an end, too.
As I continue recollecting, I think about the original purpose of this space, an incubator. Defined, in terms of business, an incubator is a place, especially with support staff and equipment, made available at low rent to new small businesses. While the MIC had tremendous support staff and equipment, rent was not low - rather, it was high. Now, I don't mean high in terms of a dollar price, as that was zero. But, it was high in terms of expectations and success. Whether the expectations were something I levied upon myself, I do not know. However, to whom much is given, much is expected. The MIC gave me all I needed to be successful. I just had to do it.
I sit in my brown chair at my desk for my final blog here in the MIC, and I shed a tear. I have given this place all I possibly could over the past year and a half, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked here. I will always be the biggest supporter of the MIC, as it allowed me to turn my vocation into a reality. I know the MIC will continue building more young entrepreneurs, and I hope those young entrepreneurs can look back on this place the same way that I can.
To everyone affiliated with the Mercer Innovation Center, thank you for believing in me, and thank you for believing in Z Beans.