The Top 3 Affordable Cities for Millennial Entrepreneurs

(The American Tobacco Historic District in Durham, NC.)

It’s never been easier to start a business and become an entrepreneur. For millennials, access to technology and multiple social media platforms have made launching and growing your business more cost-effective than ever before.

Whether you are just launching your business or are a seasoned entrepreneur, cutting expenses will always be an important ingredient to your business’s longevity. One of the biggest costs in any budget is your living expenses. As an entrepreneur, being savvy about where you choose to live can not only help your business thrive but also give your wallet a bit of a reprieve.

Below are the top three affordable cities for millennial entrepreneurs to live and work.

Raleigh-Durham, NC

Not only is RaleighDurham a great college town, but it is also becoming a formidable force to be reckoned with for millennial entrepreneurs. Raleigh-Durham is home to an innovative tech hub, American Underground, which is one of just nine Google Tech Hubs in North America.

The American Underground has four locations around Raleigh-Durham and is jammed packed with all the goodies millennial entrepreneurs could ask for: co-working spaces, community events, flexible lease terms, conference rooms, and, of course, a complimentary coffee bar. Located in the Research Triangle, American Underground is helping to put Raleigh-Durham on the map for entrepreneurs

Coupled with the low cost of living that North Carolina offers, many millennial entrepreneurs are fleeing more expensive states like New York and California to have a chance to focus on the growth of their business and not the growth of their living expenses.

The median earnings in Raleigh/Durham are $47,618 and the city also enjoys a low unemployment rate of 4.6%, ranking it 16th in Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs, according to NerdWallet.

Read the entire story HERE.


Iron Yard completes ATC move, Raleigh renovations still underway

2016 could be a banner year for code school Iron Yard Academy in the Triangle. That’s according to Dana Calder, campus director for Durham.

In addition to revamping American Underground’s downtown Raleigh space – set to be open well in time for its first classes in spring – it just completed a move at Durham’s American Tobacco Campus.

Iron Yard, named one of TBJ’s Companies to Watch in 2016, has moved into a space that Calder estimates is about one and a half times bigger than where it debuted two years ago, she says….


Durham’s American Underground Leads Nation on Entrepreneurial Diversity, Sees Major Increase in Funding

“Startup Capital of the South” Announces Milestones with Video by Local Hip Hop Artist and Entrepreneur Professor Toon

Today, the American Underground — a Google for Entrepreneurs tech hub — shared nation-leading figures on diversity and funding to a crowd of investors, entrepreneurs and political leaders at the hub’s annual meeting. Keynoting the announcement was a special collaboration with local hip hop artist and entrepreneur Professor Toon and Saleem Reshamwala of KidEthnic.  Click HERE to see VIDEO.

Founded in a storage basement six years ago, the American Underground has rapidly grown into the region’s most robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, deemed by CNBC to be “the Startup Capital of the South.”

Key figures from the report include:

  • A 40% increase in venture funding over 2014 + 83% of companies that sought funding received it. This upends conventional wisdom on the availability of funding in the southeast.
  • A 30% increase in jobs created
  • 29% of the American Underground’s businesses are led by women, 22.4% are minority-led. Nationally, approximately only 1 percent of startup founders are black and 8 percent are female (according to CB Insights).
  • Durham is hot. In just two years, seven companies have exited to the tune of $1.5 billion.   


The full report can be viewed and downloaded here.

Congratulatory video from Steve Case.


  • Adam Klein, chief strategist, American Underground
    • “The numbers we’ve seen in 2015 show there is a lot of important startup activity originating in the Triangle from a wide range of entrepreneurs. We’ve been able to buck trends regarding diversity in tech that for many are aspirational talking points. We’re actually doing it here in Durham.”
  • Professor Ted Zoller of UNC-Chapel Hill
    • “The American Underground has become the dominant hub of entrepreneurship in the Research Triangle region, serving to create an entrepreneurial identity for the region and a supporting founder-driven culture of execution.”
  • Karla Monterroso, vice president of programs, CODE2040
    • “The American Underground is pioneering not only what it looks like to bring a diverse community into tech, but how to have the capital and culture of inclusion set-up so their diverse constituency can thrive.”

Social Media:

About American Underground
The American Underground — one of eight Google for Entrepreneurs tech hubs in North America — launched five years ago in the basement of an old tobacco warehouse at the American Tobacco Historic District. It now encompasses close to 100,000 sq ft of space in three locations in Raleigh and Durham as well as a strategic partnership with open source leader Red Hat to offer an office in Silicon Valley. Founding partners include Coastal Federation Credit Union, the Research Triangle Park Foundation, Durham Chamber of Commerce, Duke University, Fidelity Labs, NC IDEA and Capitol Broadcasting Company.


How a start-up hub made good on diversity goals

“DURHAM, N.C. — The American Underground, a campus for entrepreneurs here, established a bold goal at the start of 2015: To build the most diverse start-up hub in the country inside of two years. This statement raised some eyebrows but, after nearly a year of experimentation and hard work, Durham is building not only a thriving start-up scene but a richly diverse one.”

Read more in USA Today.


Four Observations About Startup Ecosystems After 4,000 Miles on the Road

“Supporting the vibrancy of local economies outside of large metropolitan areas is not a new policy objective. It is embedded into the fabric of the United States. As Phillip Longman pointed out in a recent Atlantic piece, the founders created the Senate, in part, to ensure smaller and less populated states had a chance to fully take part in the American experiment. The Constitution contained the Postal Clause which guaranteed the delivery of mail to remote communities. After the advent of the railroad, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887 to protect smaller communities from rail rate price discrimination, and later the Federal Reserve system situated member banks in numerous cities so that not all monetary policy would be conducted in New York. Taken together, these efforts — and others including varying pieces of antitrust legislation as well as regulatory regimes for public utilities — ensured innovation could be churned out of different corners of the country.”

Read more in the Huffington Post.



Durham, N.C., October 26, 2015 — Smashing Boxes, a digital product agency headquartered in the American Tobacco Campus, was recently recognized as one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America” by Entrepreneur magazine’s Entrepreneur360™ Performance Index, a premier study delivering the most comprehensive analysis of private companies in America. Based on this study forged by Entrepreneur, Smashing Boxes is recognized as a company that exemplifies growth, not just in top and bottom line, but in sustainability and ability to achieve lasting success.

Since we founded Smashing Boxes in 2010, the company has grown from just two guys, Brian and myself,” said CEO Nick Jordan, “to nearly 70 strategists, designers, developers and support staff. One of our greatest challenges with such rapid growth has been maintaining and developing an entrepreneurial culture that encourages risk taking, change making and steady improvement. At every level, our team has risen to the occasion: the opportunity to make Smashing Boxes truly great.

“Those honored have identified a problem, come up with a unique solution, and bravely built their enterprises around it,” says Ryan Shea, president of Entrepreneur Media. “They’ve accomplished new ways of producing sustainable growth and are an inspiration to others who want to fulfill their own entrepreneurial goals.”

As an agency, we serve a wide range of business needs from mHealth to eCommerce to Internet of Things. Whether we’re working with FHI360, Daimler, EmployUs or Moogfest, our goal is to provide the best possible product and experience. We’ve found that the best way to do both is to break down organizational silos and form deeply collaborative relationships with our clients. Its an integrative approach that leverages high transparency, open feedback and short feedback loops that result in greater speed to market. It’s our promise to our clients and our team.

Through in-depth surveys, the team of editors and researchers behind the E360 Performance Index collected more than 250 pieces of data from hundreds of participating U.S. based companies, focusing on growth drivers and challenges, goal setting, resource allocations, and reward systems. The analysis uncovered a subset of companies including Smashing Boxes, whose continued success is largely based on superior value creation for their customers, building an adaptive learning culture, and aggressive geographic expansion—making them the most dynamic firms in America today.

According to research conducted by the Business Dynamics Research Consortium (BDRC), less than one percent of U.S. businesses expanded capacity three or more years out of the past five.  On average, they grew by 41% over the period whereas all other surviving companies lost an average of 4%. Based on the their analysis of 19.1 million for-profit US businesses, sustained growers are statistically more likely to survive and continue to grow over the next five years than any other group of businesses in the economy.

“The companies identified in the E360 Index are sustained growers, and based on our research, have proven adept at navigating the changing challenges of their marketplace to win new business and grow their output capacity year after year,” says Gary Kunkle, senior research fellow at the Business Dynamics Research Consortium and research partner of the E360 Performance Index.

For additional details on the E360 Performance Index and the companies recognized, visit:



Smashing Boxes partners with forward-thinking brands and startups to solve problems through the creative application of technology. We fuse strategy, design and development to create high-impact digital platforms, products and services. Visit for more information.


For nearly 40 years, Entrepreneur Media Inc. has been serving the entrepreneurial community providing comprehensive coverage of business and personal success through original content and events. Entrepreneur magazine,, and publishing imprint Entrepreneur Press provide solutions, information, inspiration and education read by millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. To learn more, visit


4 U.S. regions quickly becoming major tech hubs

“The next Silicon Valley” may seem like the name of a reality television series.  In all seriousness, the competition to claim the title of America’s Next Big Tech Hub is just as fierce as anything you might see on The Bachelor. As many startups promote themselves as “the Uber of” or “the Airbnb of” their respective industries, many cities around the U.S. aim to align with the hotbed of tech and startup activity that defines Silicon Valley.”



Congratulations to Adwerx!

“Adwerx is thrilled to be a finalist for two NC Tech Awards; “Best Place to Work” and “Top 10 Startups to Watch” 

A review committee, comprised of economic development, education, media, non-profit and technology leaders across the state, selected the finalists and winners for the 20th Annual NC Tech Awards. Winners will be announced at the NC Tech Awards Gala, held on November 12.”

Read more at NCTA.