CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: AMERICAN UNDERGROUND

By James Forrest                      

We’ve discussed many times in this space how fortunate we are to be in a great area like the Triangle, a great place to live and work.  But that good fortune is not due to dumb luck—there are many people working behind the scenes in both the public and private sectors, through economic development entities, government agencies, and private enterprise to make this a great place to move a mature business, or bring a great idea to life and start one up.

American UndergroundWe recently had the pleasure of bringing on such an organization, American Underground, as a client. American Underground is a project that may be easily misunderstood as simply a growing set of office developments in downtown Durham and Raleigh (which it is), but it’s so much more than that.  Launched in 2010 by the commercial real estate arm of Capitol Broadcasting (also behind other Durham favorites as the American Tobacco Campus and the Durham Bulls Athletic Park), American Underground began as a small space and co-working option under the ATC geared to startups.

The American Underground, in 2012, lured the Durham Chamber’s economic development officer, Adam Klein (behind ideas like the Smoffice and Bull City Stampede), to become its chief strategy officer, and a new wave of growth began.  In the last two years, the American Underground has added another Durham campus on Main Street, as well as expansion into downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville Street. These expansions moved the American Underground from housing 35 startups to 160 today, with yet another expansion planned for later this year.  Beyond the physical space, the American Underground is about support and a professional culture that’s unique to the Triangle.

Amenities geared to startups included fully-furnished, turnkey workspaces at very flexible (even month-to-month) lease terms, co-working spaces, and included utilities, coffee, conference spaces, and other perks.

From a support and culture perspective, American Underground works diligently to link startups and young businesses with nearby venture capital firms and other supporting professionals, such as attorneys, accountants, and marketing, advertising, and public relations firms.   Community events are regular occurrences at all American Underground campuses, leveraging the centralized location of each campus and the social nature of the Triangle startup community.

Yet another benefit to American Underground startups is AU’s recent designation as a Google for Entrepreneurs (GFE) Tech Hub.  One of only eight such technology hubs selected by Google, American Underground tenants receive up to $100,000 in Google software and hardware product credits, as well as advice and support from company experts and access to exclusive company events. One of the American Underground teams, Windsor Circle, won Google’s first ever Demo Day in March of 2014 as a result of the GFE partnership.

American Underground is a great example of how people in the Triangle are injecting fresh ideas to keep our area a preferred destination for new businesses.  For more information on this exciting hub for startups in downtown Durham and Raleigh, visit their website at www.americanunderground.com.