Chet Funk, Cafe Inc.

Title: General manager

Age: 27

Chet Funk is helping mobile employees find a place to work, meet and enjoy fresh food, coffee or even a day-ending glass of beer or wine as general manager of Cafe Inc., a members-only collaborative workplace that opened this month in Edina.

Funk said Cafe Inc. offers individuals an alternative to coffee shops, home offices or pricey executive suites. The adjacent Makers Cafe, a new concept from Dunn Bros., serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and beverages and is open to the public.

Funk said that 12 to 15 Cafe Inc. locations eventually could open along Interstates 494 and 694 and in urban areas.

Funk is concentrating his efforts on operations, business development and raising capital for the venture with co-founder Jeff O’Dell. He’s meeting with organizations to develop corporate memberships for employees and also hopes to sign up financial planners, lawyers, sales managers and others who frequently meet with clients or team members.

“The concept has been to create this hybrid drawing from the accessibility and energy of a public cafe and marrying that with all the professional amenities of a progressive corporation and the ambience of a sky club,” said Funk, also a minority owner in Cafe Inc.

Funk was a freshman when he bought a College Pro painting franchise, which he ran during his first two years at the University of Minnesota. He then worked as a business coach for franchisees while completing his degree in entrepreneurial management.


Q: What’s behind the trend in alternative workplaces and mobile workers?

A: First, there’s the increase in mobile technology and the security of accessing data from anywhere at any time. The cost of a designated workspace for somebody who is mobile is very prohibitive. And studies show the increase in productivity by getting into one of these alternative work environments and experiencing the energy and different amenities within that space.


Q: What appealed to you about this opportunity?

A: The experience of working with and learning from figures such as Jeff O’Dell, who has started and sold three of his previous companies. And the concept interested me, in providing a highly accessible and affordable version of something that I could use, a productive place to get my job done.


Q: Is there anything like Cafe Inc. in other markets?

A: (Some) may be more urban-centric, built around community and collaboration. Then you look at executive office suites that are highly focused on amenities and more of that prestigious address. Cafe Inc is somewhere between those with the accessibility of a retail environment, that cafe experience and all the professional amenities and hospitality.