Samantha Steidle '04
Samantha Steidle ‘04, brand developer of The CoLab, always knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur.
“When I arrived at Radford in 2001, I started my first company as an event planner. I planned weddings and corporate events and would often drive to Roanoke to meet with wedding vendors such as florists, bakers and photographers. I knew I was young, but I wanted the experience of opening and running my own company. When meeting with vendors or clients, I had to meet with them in coffee shops. This is where the seed for the Business Lounge was planted,” says Samantha Steidle.
In 2012, Steidle created a coworking space called the Business Lounge. It was a shared space for freelancers or startups, where they have the opportunity to share office space and cut expenses.
In 2014, she partnered with Ed Walker, one of Roanoke’s most successful commercial developers to rebrand the Business Lounge to be the CoLab. The CoLab currently is home to more than 60 entrepreneurs, many of which are graphic designers, web designers, video producers and social media experts.
Steidle says that everything she does is intertwined. With many small businesses using the CoLab, she has offered them marketing assistance through her Virtual Marketing firm. “We approach larger companies and let them know that the CoLab has the resources to help them in internet marketing, social media marketing and much more,” says Steidle.
Steidle also teaches marketing and entrepreneurship at Virginia Western Community College, which is the CoLab’s leading partner. “The president is incredibly supportive of the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem we have here. He trusts and believes in the CoLab and me. That is a wonderful feeling,” says Steidle.
“When I was at Radford, Dan Davidson, who taught business law, was a very influential professor for me. Today, I try to replicate his teaching styles. I try to be the teacher that shows a 20-year-old student how marketing, entrepreneurship, and college classes can be fun. I encourage them not to box themselves in, but to branch out,” says Steidle.
As a student, Steidle worked very hard to get the experience she needed for her success. “Not everything is easy and when you see someone that is successful, you must remember they did not start there. You have to earn your way and do your time. Then one day, you will wake up realizing you’ve paved the path to your dream job,” says Steidle.