The Anvil was founded in 2013 to support entrepreneurial action among the surrounding community as well as act as a space for entrepreneurs and innovators to collaborate and learn. The Anvil was founded by three Purdue students.
The space is supported by the City of West Lafayette, Purdue Foundry, and local sponsors. Located at 320 North Street, in the former University Church.
Members have access to the space 24/7 with their unique HID keys, and non-members have access to the space during public events.
Membership requirements are really simple, anyone who’s interested in being a part of this community can join – student and non-student alike. We really strive to make The Anvil a melting pot of sorts for likeminded individuals.
In addition to office and collaborative workspaces, The Anvil is home to a startup which has converted the church’s former kitchen into a machine shop. As a provider of space and community, we do everything possible to empower our members. Sometimes this means letting them renovate a kitchen, other times it means providing them with a loaner computer, but most of the time it’s just making sure the wifi is working and the coffee is strong.
The membership fee for students is $10 and for outside community members, it is $30 per month. The Anvil is also unique because it offers small private offices for larger teams in addition to the open workspace.
The space is student-founded and student-operated. There are seven student workers that run the space and the events. Expansion of the space has led to onboarding a Purdue Foundry employee who oversees daily operations of the space and acts as an advisor to the student leadership team.
The Anvil provides mentors as resources as well as regular talks and workshops that further knowledge and understanding. For example, we have a partnership with Gutwein LLC., a law firm in Lafayette, IN, that allows us to provide pro-bono legal advice to our startups. We also provide technical workshops, meetups, and other educational opportunities for anyone who’s interested.
The Anvil acts as a central place of entrepreneurship and innovation. This means that there’s a number of events hosted, including talks from experienced entrepreneurs and workshops, an annual hackathon, and a startup accelerator.
It connects the makers in a way that hasn’t been done before. The addition of The Anvil has fostered collaboration and innovation that has helped to inspire both the current makers as well as the next generation.
The biggest problem to date was our location. When we started in 2013, we were located at a building off campus. While we were appreciative of the space and would fill it during events, foot traffic just didn’t exist. However, with our new move into the heart of West Lafayette, that’s changed 100%. At any given hour there are members working in the space, and we constantly get visitors who walk by.
The next major challenge for The Anvil is going to be finances. Co-working spaces are vital to building tech talent and business in an area, but are fundamentally unsustainable in the traditional sense. Providing ultra-affordable space for high risk companies on a month-by-month basis isn’t the best business model. So we’re looking for ways to fundraise and make the space sustainable other than through just membership fees.
If you’re a student looking to build something similar to what we’ve built here at The Anvil, feel free to reach out! Our biggest recommendation to you however will be to make sure you have buy-in from all major stakeholders. That means the university, the city, and most importantly the students you’re going to be serving.