|Google Selects Durham as Part of Tech Hub Network
By Jason Parker, WRALTechWire
The American Tobacco Historic District in Durham is one of seven sites selected to be part of Google’s new “Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network.” Centers will receive financial support, technology, equipment and discounts to various Google product offerings.
The news was announced at an event in Durham as well as in Chicago. Google will be partnering in the Bull City with the American Underground, which is based at American Tobacco and offers shared office facilities to startups as well as service providers focused on new and emerging companies.
The program is an attempt to create a nationwide network of entrepreneurs, the Internet giant said.
“Today is the formal launch of the Tech Hub Network,” said Mary Grove, director of Google for Entrepreneurs, “to create a central resource to support entrepreneurs.”
The company selected Durham along with Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Nashville, and Waterloo, Canada, as cities in which Google for Entrepreneurs will partner with pre-existing entrepreneurial resources, said Grove.
The partnership stemmed from discussions between the Google for Entrepreneurs team and the team at American Underground, led by chief strategist Adam Klein.
“For such a transformative technology company to establish a presence here,” said Dov Cohn, co-founder and CEO of PopUp, an American Underground company, “is fantastic and it’s great validation of what we’ve built here. Google will bring to bear resources that entrepreneurs here have not previously had access to in the region.
The two-year partnership began as soon as the press announcement was made at 11 a.m. eastern time on Wednesday, September 25, 2013, though it’s not the first time that Google has been involved in the Triangle. The tech giant hosted a “Google for Entrepreneurs Day” earlier in the year, said Grove, which was their true entry point into the community, and where her team first met Klein.
“While Durham is smaller than some of the other selected metro areas, it’s both a strength and an asset for the area,” Klein said. In Chicago or New York, said Klein, there may be a few thousand companies, but they’re spread out over a vast and disorganized land mass.
Durham’s size results in an incredibly dense network of startups in a relatively small geographic space, said Klein, and this was appealing to Google.
“Durham was always on our list of top cities,” said Grove, who has yet to visit the region but indicated a strong desire to do so. “We’ve been really excited about the nexus of startup talent and energy in the region.”
Klein was in Chicago for the announcement.
“We’re building on a legacy,” said Klein, in a video message to an audience of more than a hundred people gathered at Bay 7 in downtown Durham for the multi-city announcement, “and what could be bigger than having Google involved?”
The partnership between American Underground and Google for Entrepreneurs is designed to provide the Triangle’s entrepreneurs greater access to Google products, talent, and developer kits.
Google is planning to roll out quarterly events, where they’ll demonstrate new products, said Klein, as well as monthly developer meetings to provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to interact with Google’s developers to sharpen and hone their coding ability.
In addition, each American Underground tenant will receive a Google software pack that contains discounts and free products and licenses.
“In making this decision, Google is validating what is going on in the Triangle,” said Klein, “and we now have points of contact and a platform from which we can speak to Google.”
It’s also validating the mission and strategy of American Underground, said Klein, who seeks to engage corporate divisions and companies to assist in the startup ecosystem in the Triangle.
“I hope that this partnership creates good energy and catalyzes the kinds of conversations that matter,” said Klein, “the ones that enables disruption in technology industries.”
Three years ago, said Klein, he couldn’t fathom that Durham’s startup ecosystem would be where it is today.
“More than anything, this announcement is a testament to the startups in Durham and in the Triangle,” Klein said.
The announcement had been embargoed but was reported in advance by a newspaper in Nashville.
The American Underground recently expanded to a second location in Durham called Underground@Main. Another facility is being constructed in Raleigh.
Thanks to WRALTechWire’s Jason Parker for this capcom story.