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Posts Tagged ‘Adam Klein’

American Underground launching @Raleigh startup hub

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, NC

The NC Research Triangle entrepreneurial ecosystem has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. On the heels of opening a new startup hub in downtown Durham, The American Underground, a network of startup hubs, will open a new location this fall at 213 Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. Startups help spark the innovation that creates new markets and new jobs; the American Underground helps startups connect with the resources they need to succeed.

@Raleigh will feature up to 25+ companies as well as Bandwidth Labs, the incubator arm of Bandwidth, the world-leading Raleigh-based innovator that recently shook up the smartphone market with the introduction of Republic Wireless.

@Raleigh will also feature a ‘regional coworking desk,’ allowing startups in the Underground to work in any Underground location. This means a startup based in Raleigh can easily take meetings in the two Durham-based Undergrounds, plop down in the Durham coworking space, and not miss a beat — and visa versa.

Nor will startups miss out on social time, a not-to-be-dismissed lubricant of success. @Raleigh is situated directly above popular watering hole, Foundation. Networking and learning events, as seen in Durham and other national hot spots, will be a staple of the new hub.

Density Key to Success

Density, experts say, is key to a successful entrepreneurial economy. A critical mass of startups, funders etc. allows for productive interaction and increases the odds of success.

The new @Raleigh site will strengthen a Triangle-wide ecosystem that the original Underground — located at Durham’s American Tobacco Campus — helped to kick-off in 2010. There are now 100+ startups in Durham, more than half of them working in the collaborative, inter-connected spaces at American Underground hubs at the campus and at its just-opened downtown Durham site.

“The Triangle as a whole is now alive to the idea that we can be an international hub of the kind of innovation that leads to new companies and jobs,” says Underground Chief Strategist Adam Klein. “We have the universities, we have the talented, dedicated visionaries.  @Raleigh represents an opportunity for us to better link our regional assets and make it possible for startups to work across the Triangle easily and seamlessly. We look forward to collaborating with others who share this vision for regional success.”

Adds Bandwidth CEO David Morken: “Bandwidth’s incredible growth over the last several years is due to hard work and relentless innovation, items we expect will be hallmarks of the American Underground@Raleigh. Locating Bandwidth Labs in the Underground allows us both to help build our community and to continually expose some of our brightest minds to new and challenging ideas.”

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, said, “I am thrilled to welcome The American Underground@Raleigh to our bustling downtown and vibrant entrepreneurial eco-system.  The Underground’s regional approach combined with the international scope of Bandwidth Labs makes the project a perfect fit for North Carolina’s capital city. The more connectivity we achieve between entrepreneurs, investors, universities and major corporations, the more our startup eco-system will grow and thrive.”

Jean Pauwels, owner of the building since 2006, has previously partnered with Foundation and a theater group. He carefully vetted his next project. “A big part of my decision to work with the American Underground is my desire to collaborate with people who think outside the box. The Underground team truly wants to put together something special. It will be a great addition to downtown Raleigh.

Paul Singh, venture partner in the international 500 Startups has observed, “I’ve rarely seen an entrepreneurial ecosystem as thoughtfully developed or successfully executed as the American Underground.”

Durham to stuff the next big thing in a tiny little office

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Sometime in May, you’re going to be walking down Main street in Downtown Durham and pass by a glass-encased habitat at the front of a well-known coffee shop where a single entrepreneur or team of entrepreneurs will be feverishly working for your enjoyment.

You may stop in for a delicious coffee, you may just watch for a few minutes while lines of code are slung at some business problem that needs fixing. But when you walk away and go about the rest of your day, you’ll be thinking, “I should have thought of that.”

The Smoffice

You’ll be peering through the glass at The Smoffice, a so-crazy-it-has-to-work partnership between the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Durham Inc., Beyu Caffe, and a host of other local sponsors.

The idea is to give a single startup six months of free space in “the worlds smallest office” in downtown Durham, driving home the point that a startup doesn’t necessarily need big or fancy or cash or backing, but simply a great idea fostered in a stimulating and supportive environment.


It’s a rather artful statement on Durham as an up-and-coming startup ecosystem.

Of course, there are other bells and whistles, but these are grass roots bells and whistles, most importantly a nearby condo for potential out-of-town candidates, and also free custom office furniture, a tablet, assistance from experts in legal, accounting, and marketing, and finally connections to over 70 of the startups in downtown Durham.

The application process starts Wednesday, 2/29 (Leap Day, just to drive the quirkiness home), and more info can be found on

I’ll wait while you turn your world back rightside up.

So Who Did Think of That?

When people ask me how Durham has come from seemingly nowhere to emerge overnight as the most hypeworthy startup hub of the east coast, I give a varying array of reasons: The establishment of the American Tobacco Complex downtown, the low cost of space, the growing number of privately run support organizations, elves, etc. But usually I include one specific thing.

Or rather dude. Adam Klein at the Durham Chamber.

Klein is one of those guys you see at all the startup-related events in the area, from the smaller, street-level meetups to the big fancy conferences. Because he’s so much better looking than me, I tend to stay away from him, but I have gotten to know him, and I’m floored by the things he’s done, and the things he didn’t do, to contribute to the growth of Durham’s startup scene.

When people think of the Durham Chamber, which admittedly isn’t very often because of the fact that 90% of what they do is support behind the curtain, they think of things like Startup Stampede, a program that put a handful of budding startups into a downtown Durham space with infrastructure and mentoring – like an accelerator, but without the cash and investment components, although said investment was in Durham itself.

See? Sneaky.

How to Start a Startup Stampede: Step 1 = Don’t Start a Startup Stampede

Klein now advises other chambers and government organizations from locals to regionals to the National Chamber on how to build a localized startup culture into a Stampede. His primary advice: Don’t do it, or rather, don’t start with the event, there’s a lot of prep work to do first.

For all the out-of-the-box thinking and risk taking that produced the Stampede, it was the months behind the scenes he and others spent talking to the local startup community and the greater business community.

This meant countless meetings with individual entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs, selling the benefits of Durham and listening, intently, to their needs and desires. This is not easy to do, since most of those lists of needs and desires usually start, ill-advisedly so, with “a boatload of working capital,” which of course the Durham Chamber does not have or have access to.

It also meant countless meetings with Durham companies, from giant corporations like HTC to establishments you wouldn’t expect to be a part of the ecosystem at all, like downtown’s Beyu Caffe. In these sessions, he’d sell the benefits of a sprouting startup community back to them, an equally difficult proposition when you’re talking about propping up a tax/customer base known for being broke and desperately seeking “a boatload of working capital.”

And finally, it meant getting out of the way — knowing what to provide, what to support, making it happen, and then letting it grow on its own, grass-roots, live or die.

I’m Looking at You, Every Other Startup Support Group

It took ages for all that to pay off in the form of Startup Stampede, and that, along with multiple other initiatives from both the public and private sectors, a metric ton of hard work from the startups themselves, a parsec of good press, and a half-dozen elves, is how the Durham startup ecosystem sprang up from “nowhere.”

With a couple of successful Startup Stampedes under their belt, Klein and frequent collaborator Matthew Coppedge from Downtown Durham Inc. knew that they had to evolve. They realized that in order to keep up with and properly serve Durham’s fledgling startup environment, they needed something new, something unique, and something bigger.

And because the Raleigh-Durham area has a reputation for being so vanilla that you can literally flavor your coffee with a few blades of grass taken from the finely manicured lawns of Cary, they knew it should push the boundaries a bit.

A bit.

So they went small.

A Tiny Window Into Durham

Klein and Coppedge know that there isn’t nearly enough attention on Durham as a startup hub, certainly within the area and definitely outside of it. So they hope that there are several marketing aspects that can be ramped up through the lifecycle of The Smoffice.

It will start with the application process, which will be worldwide and centered around the uniqueness of the space. This is not only meant to attract outside entrepreneurs to the program, but also serve as an introduction to the location and the culture, a huge and very important task in keeping the Durham startup ecosystem growing.

The marketing will continue with the live nature of The Smoffice itself, offering locals and non-locals alike a peek into how entrepreneurs can succeed in Durham, with or without a Smoffice and all the sponsors and connections, but because of a culture that promotes risk, acceptance, help, sharing, and support. At one point there was talk of a documentary, but I don’t know where that went. It’s a great idea though

Wish I’d thought of it.

Joe’s last column offered “Five Reasons why you need to be at SEVC”

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for automated content startup Automated Insights. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent, consulting marketplace Intrepid Company, and the Intrepid Media writers network. You can read him at and follow him at

Startup Stampede picks 11 companies for 60-day Durham event

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Durham StampedeDURHAM, NC – The Bull City Startrup Stampede has selected 11 companies from 78 applications for 60 days of free furnished space in downtown Durham April 1 thorugh May 31. The companies will also receive expert help and opportunities to network with founders of successful Durham startups.

“We were overwhelmed and thrilled by the response to the Stampede,” said Adam Klein, the Chamber’s Director of Strategic Initiatives. “The applications were wide-ranging and inspiring. It made the selection process difficult, but we are thrilled to bring these 11 startup companies and 30 employees downtown.”

The companies that were not selected for the Stampede have already been connected to the many business resources available in Durham such as Bull City Forward, NC Institute for Minority Economic Development, Durham Technical Community College Small Business Center, CED, LaunchBox Digital, Joystick Labs and the Small Business and Technical Development Center.

“We want to make sure all the companies that showed interest in the Stampede are engaged in Durham and the business opportunities here,” Klein said. “We have a wealth of resources and partners who can help these companies start and grow in Durham.”

For background on the event see our previous story: Startup Stampede, launch a company in 60 days

The Bull City Startup Stampede participants:

AcuMedSoft – revolutionizing healthcare delivery with secure cloud based web applications.

Appuware – provides a cloud-based suite of tools and services that enable mobile publishers to offer trial and subscription based pricing within various app marketplaces.

Blink Coupons - customer loyalty cards for small businesses. Blink aims to become the Google of the collegiate market and their ultimate goal is to make the collegiate experience more enjoyable for college students, professors and advertisers, alike.

Bound Custom Journals - delivers uniquely customizable journals for travel, sketching, writing, planning, anything–because only you can create the perfect journal.

Clinical Ambassador – a cultural attaché that connects science and minority communities to advanced medical discovery and reduces disparities through cultural competence, research literacy, outreach strategy, community-driven, creative marketing and patient recruitment in clinical trials.

Finger Puppet Games, Inc. - develops 3D games with cutting-edge technology that are social, tactile, and collectible; built for mobile devices and monetized through microtransactions.

Fitsistant - a service of on-call physical training coaches & scheduling assistants combined with personally tailored fitness software.

Haiti Hub - a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to providing the highest quality Haitian Creole e-language learning solutions to native English speakers invested in Haiti’s future.

LearnVC – (operated by LearnVC) simplifies raising capital by modeling investment scenarios to educate entrepreneurs and collaborate with potential investors.

Little Green Software - develops apps for smart devices including smartphones, tablets, game systems, and the web.

Rippple – an online platform that empowers communities to support entrepreneurs in building successful businesses.


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Startup Stampede: launch a company in 60 days with free space and support in Durham

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Durham StampedeDurham is becoming a hotbed for startup companies, with more than 50 in downtown alone. The success of the American Tobacco Campus and its startup friendly American Underground, the proximity to Duke University and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill,  Research Triangle Park located 10 minutes away, and the city’s modest-cost-of-living are all contributing factors.

In a guest post on Jason Caplain’s Southeast VC blog, Adam Klein, director of Strategic Initiatives, Durham Chamber, wrote, “The idea for the Bull City Startup Stampede came during a conversation with Preation founder and iContact co-founder, Aaron Houghton. We were talking about how the startup scene in downtown Durham is thriving and that we’d love to expose more entrepreneurs to this environment. That’s when Aaron started talking about a wacky sort of spectacle eared at giving Triangle-based startups a first-hand experience of Durham…from there we launched the Startup Stampede.”

Houghton tells us, “It doesn’t cost the entrepreneurs a thing and they don’t give up any equity.  The space is right in the middle of the startup scene in downtown Durham, 50 startups are within talking distance from this office. The 50mb Internet connection in the space is not currently offered to businesses in NC via cable providers but Stampede companies will get it first (for free) which is really cool.”

Klein added, “The programming for the event will be light but we are planning to bring in some very successful Durham entrepreneurs each week to talk with the Stampede participants about the ups and downs of launching a company.”

Durham startups already employ about 500 people and it’s well known that small businesses account for the bulk of new jobs created. With the RTP’s large tech companies shrinking workforces, we think this emphasis on creating and nurturing startups bodes well for the Bull City’s future.

Applications are due March 11 and selected participants will be notified by March 18. There is no specific industry focus but Kleins says, “We are mostly interested in the background of the founder/team, the market opportunity and the scalability of the concept.”

–Allan Maurer

Email TJS Editor Allan Maurer: Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

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