Growing the Future of Boerne

It’s no secret that Boerne is booming. This change can be a source of stress for some, while others see it as an opportunity.

Article by Daniel Gertson

Photography by Sarah Brooke Lyons

Originally published in Boerne Lifestyle

The folks at Das Greenhaus (DGH) don’t believe these forces of evolution and tradition oppose one another. Instead, they hope their nonprofit can help local leaders harness their power together.

Program Director Justin McKenzie and Program Coordinator Samantha Morganroth take us through the mission, goals, and vision of DGH and explain why they think investment in Boerne is one of the best bets around.

[Responses edited for length and clarity]

What is the vision for Das Greenhaus?
Das Greenhaus convenes entrepreneurs, business leaders, mentors, educators, civic and civil leaders, and local citizens for the purpose of growing the community of innovators in and around Kendall County. Fostering this entrepreneurial spirit creates opportunities for students graduating from our local school systems, retirees seeking a second career, and individuals from all walks and stages of life who are looking to start, grow, or contribute to a business. We envision a future where people no longer need to leave the area in search of that opportunity, and where our students see a bright future here at home.
Where did that idea come from?
A study conducted five years ago by the University of Texas’ Innovation, Capital, Creativity (IC2) program aimed to demonstrate how we could maintain the prosperity and distinctiveness of Boerne while overcoming its reputation of being a sleepy bedroom community outside of San Antonio. The research highlighted a clear need in Kendall County for precisely what Das Greenhaus provides: a place where people can seek support, network with peers, access resources, and have space to develop and grow their ideas. 
Boerne is close to San Antonio and not far from Austin. Why should entrepreneurs consider Boerne as a place to grow their business?
The reasons are endless, as evidenced by our rapidly growing population, the Hill Country quality of life, great schools, trails, parks, wholesome family entertainment, and a walkable community. Our neighborhoods are filled with generous and successful mentors, investors, and business leaders actively seeking opportunities to get involved. All of this is drawing people to this area.

There is no denying that Boerne is geographically close to larger cities like San Antonio and Austin, but it could not be further away in terms of the living and working experience it offers. Retaining the small-town feel and the magical charm of Boerne will always be crucial, even as we embrace the economic opportunities knocking on our door.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see facing new businesses?
The biggest hurdle is asking for help. For many, the act of asking, knowing who to ask, and where to go for support is a debilitating challenge. Business owners often attempt to figure everything out for their business in isolation, which should not be the case. We want to make it easier to ask for help, to connect people with resources, and to help them find peers who can assist in ideating and growing their businesses. Creating, building, and growing a business should be a team sport.

We also work to help people establish intentional relationships. Too often, businesses repeat the same mistakes as their predecessors. We seek to foster a community that encourages open conversations and enables businesses to learn from one another’s experiences.

Our entrepreneurs also face the hurdle of executing quality business planning and preparation. We collaborate with our founders to help fully develop their ideas and ensure they’re ready to take their concepts to market.
How does Das Greenhaus hope to help entrepreneurs address these issues?
In the simplest terms, DGH is a coworking space offering affordable private offices, an entrepreneurial curriculum, and larger meeting spaces for rent. However, our ambition for greater impact extends beyond that through mentorship and internship programs, as well as hosting educational and networking events. We attract remote workers seeking community, dreamers with ideas waiting to be organized and put on paper, and serial entrepreneurs eager to guide others through the bold and audacious steps toward independence.

What does participation with Das Greenhaus include? What are the biggest benefits?
For founders, our goal is to help grow their ideas. The Idea-to-Market program assists founders in organizing their businesses and developing their business plans.  We match founders with a mentor to guide them through the process and provide feedback and support. Additionally, we integrate them into our community of entrepreneurs so they can connect with and learn from others facing similar challenges. 

In working with local business owners, we aim to explore mentorships, development programs, and new perspectives. Additionally, we offer an internship program designed to be organized, accountable, and meaningful for both the intern and the business.

To help accomplish all of this, we are actively seeking experienced professionals looking to serve as mentors. Many of our founders need a fresh perspective and guidance on their journey. We know firsthand that there is nothing more rewarding than being able to share your experience, expertise, and time with the next generation. 
Think about 5-10 years from now, when Das Greenhaus is well established and has been helping local entrepreneurs thrive. How has Boerne changed and improved?
Over time, every community evolves. We are wholeheartedly committed to the belief that the entrepreneurial ecosystem continues to evolve within our community.

Years later, we see Boerne graduates returning to their hometown to find career opportunities with the businesses they interned at as students. We envision entrepreneurs seeking a community of like-minded innovators and intentionally choosing our area to grow their businesses. We anticipate a more diverse tax base and overall increased opportunity. As we have said many times, we also imagine the experience of living in Boerne to remain as extraordinary as it is today. Some traditions, sights, and spaces were well-established long before Das Greenhaus or any big businesses came to town. 

While we cannot precisely predict what the future will look like, we have high aspirations for what could be and look forward to supporting that evolution every step of the way.

We want to make it easier to ask for help, to connect people to resources… Creating, building, and growing a business should be a team sport.

We attract remote workers seeking community… dreamers with ideas waiting to be organized… and serial entrepreneurs eager to guide others…

While we cannot predict exactly what the future will look like …we look forward to supporting that evolution every step of the way.

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