Daymond John, the founder and CEO of the $6 billion clothing brand Fubu and star investor on the ABC series Shark Tank, today unveiled his latest business: a co-working venture called Blueprint and Co. The roughly 25,000-square-foot space is designed to be a place for high-profile executives and entrepreneurs to come together for networking, mentorship, venture capital funding, and general support, John explains in an interview with Inc.
"After my third season on Shark Tank, I had [invested in] all of these products and all of these companies, but I needed to find different people who could help me with them," he says of his decision to start Blueprint and Co. "I was putting some of my companies in the smaller, better known co-working spaces, where there are things like Ping Pong day and beer night, but there really wasn't a place where I felt comfortable going," John adds, referring to startups such as WeWork, the $16 billion co-working business based in New York City.
"The WeWorks of the world have a great product," he adds, "but that product is generally really appealing to a startup." Blueprint and Co, by contrast, will be aimed at more "seasoned executives."
The space is certainly not designed for your average small-business owner: Rates range from $275 to $1,000 per month, and companies must apply to be accepted. To qualify, would-be Blueprinters need to have raised at least $250,000 in capital, or book at least $250,000 in annual revenue, John confirms. Early Blueprint and Co. members include the executives behind the Honest Company, Shopify, and JetSmarter, to name a few, who will work from the space when they come to New York. As an incentive, the co-working space will offer classes, along with other resources including access to a trademark attorney, film editors, and a high-end fashion photographer. Among confirmed mentors, social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk is scheduled to teach a seminar to members.
Of course, it's not all business. John wants to create a space where entrepreneurs are able to discuss "what keeps them up at night," from finding a market niche to developing a minimum viable product to apprehension over the Trump administration's various proposals. John specifically described his concern over Trump's calls to bring manufacturing back to the states--and what he sees as an inevitable price increase for American consumers.
John says he's nervous about passing on a higher cost to his customers, "in the event that we all have to start manufacturing in America." He warns that "we think that making [products] in America is going to be great, when I may end up having to hurt a lot of people by charging them 40 percent more."
Adopting a hedging strategy may be the best course of action. And in some ways, that's exactly what Blueprint and Co. is for John. It's not just altruism that's guiding this latest effort. Indeed, it is a real business.
Blueprint and Co has already sold at least 50 desk spots, which puts the space at around 75 percent capacity, according to John. (A company representative was unable to confirm the total number of desks at the time of publishing.) Ultimately, John says he hopes to expand the business to encompass the entire building, not merely the three floors it's using currently.
"They know the fundamentals of business," adds John, referring to Blueprint's members. "But now a lot of us need to change, due to technology and the world getting smaller. We need to take those fundamentals and add them to the way of the new world."