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.”

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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.


These 10 Unique Coffee Shops In North Carolina Are Perfect To Wake You Up

“Confession : I’m addicted to caffeine. I can’t start my day without a piping hot cup of coffee with cream and two sugars. Honestly, I don’t understand how people don’t drink coffee. The taste, the smell, the caffeine. But having a coffeemaker and going to a coffeehouse are two totally different experiences. As a freelance writer, my desk is usually at a local coffeehouse, but finding the perfect one can be a serious challenge.”

Between atmosphere, beans, selections, and caffeine…these ten are the best in North Carolina.

Read more in OnlyInYourState.com


16 Places to Go in 2016

“What’s on your travel wish list for 2016? Narrowing down ours wasn’t easy, but after tapping into our global network of tastemakers and writers ⎯ and having endless heated discussions ⎯ the results are FINALLY in. From an Arctic wonderland and European arts hub to a buzzy Caribbean island and under-the-radar American town, Emily Saladino profiles our favorite destinations for the upcoming year. Happy travels.”

Read more at Jetsetter.com.


Honoring the Triangle’s healthiest employers of 2015

“Business leaders from across the Triangle crowded into the Durham Convention Center on Thursday, December 3,  to celebrate the Triangle Business Journal’s 2015 Healthiest Employers Awards.

“They are all an inspiration,” emcee Tisha Powell, WTVD news anchor, said to the crowd. “When [wellness] is a collective goal, it can be exciting and fun.”

Read more in Triangle Business Journal.


Three Triangle shops among ’10 Best Bakeries in North Carolina

“Three Triangle-area bakeries are among the ” 10 Best Bakeries in North Carolina,” according to Carolina Epicurean.

Gugelhupf Bakery, Cafe & Restaurant in Durham is “a terrific bakery and cafe,” Loaf in Durham is “a neighborhood shop where you pick up your fresh-baked goods” and at La Farm Bakery in Cary, “the star here is definitely bread,” writes the Asheville-based blogger.”

Read more in Triangle Business Journal.


Appia parent Digital Turbine consolidates, expands Durham headcount

Digital Turbine (Nasdaq: APPS) CEO Bill Stone says negotiations are under way with Appia’s longtime landlord, the Capitol Broadcasting-owned American Tobacco Campus, to sort out its “longer-term expansion plans” for the Durham market.

While he’s not specific, he says the company has already signed on to expand into “thousands” of square feet of additional space at ATC as those plans are being sorted out. He says the need for space is prompted by Appia’s growth.”

Read more in Triangle Business Journal.