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Published in Small Business
Grand Rapids-based software and digital consulting firm OST holds an event at The Collaborative Lab. Grand Rapids-based software and digital consulting firm OST holds an event at The Collaborative Lab. COURTESY PHOTO

The Collaborative Lab offers high-tech production space for in-person, live-streamed events

BY Monday, May 30, 2022 07:32pm

Three Grand Rapids-area entrepreneurs have launched a new high-tech production space to meet the digital needs of area businesses.

The Collaborative Lab LLC, located at 943 W. River Center Drive NE in Comstock Park, held a soft opening last year but will open its doors to the general public on June 1. The open house will provide a closer look at the 10,000-square-foot space that features cutting-edge technology.

The facility is designed for businesses to host in-person events for up to 200 people, but it also features the production capabilities to stream events online. 

Co-owner Andy Holtgrieve said that businesses are finding additional uses for the space.

“It certainly started as event-oriented. …We work with companies that want to take their brand and message and share it with people,” said Holtgrieve, who is principal of boutique sales and marketing consulting firm B Local LLC, and one of the co-owners of The Collaborative Lab.

“What I will say has been a very interesting transformation recently over the past year is it’s not only about providing the opportunity for people to do events, but it’s really an opportunity for people to create content for content marketing. It doesn’t even have to be live,” he said.

Holtgrieve is also the lead singer of the longtime Grand Rapid-based rock band Domestic Problems, which broke in the new production space with a live streaming concert fundraiser during the pandemic. 

Brad Dunnum and Brent Hawkins joined Holtgrieve in creating The Collaborative Lab. Dunnum owns Comstock Park-based ARIA Show Technology and Service LLC and developed the concept when the pandemic struck and eliminated live events. He started by equipping his own warehouse with production equipment to test the concept.

Hawkins specializes in data analytics. With the trio’s wide-ranging disciplines, the group hopes to work with clients to create and deliver a message and then generate insights to measure its performance.

“Every organization is going to be different and have different resources available to them,” Holtgrieve said. “Some have a marketing team of 20, some have a marketing team of one. Some of them work with an outside agency and some don’t. We have a strong network of talent at just about every level that we can pull upon to meet the needs of the organization.”

The team so far has invested $1 million into the space, which features a roughly 6,500-square-foot primary studio with 4K cameras, studio lighting, teleprompter technology and an LED wall capable of displaying images and video.

“I’m sure that there are other production companies out there that have responded in different ways, but none have built a facility that is tailored to needs, whether it’s a live event or content creation,” Holtgrieve said.

It appears to be an opportune time for such a facility, too. Coming out of the pandemic, more businesses are investing in digital modes of information delivery.

A 2020 report from social media website LinkedIn showed that 67 percent of marketers increased their investment in webinars. A more recent study from video platform Vimeo LLC revealed similar findings. Of respondents to a 2022 survey, 72 percent are expecting to continue attending the same number of online events or more, even when in-person events return in full force.

During its pilot phase, The Collaborative Lab has welcomed in companies that included digital consultant OST, nonprofit organization YWCA, and Terryberry, which specializes in employee recognition products and programs.

“Two things I hear from (businesses) most consistently is that (The Collaborative Lab) has created a lot of efficiency that they weren’t necessarily able to achieve when they did big in-person events, and it created a ton of inclusivity for them,” Holtgrieve said.

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