The American Underground is the region’s first and largest campus for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs need access to high-caliber resources, a vibrant community of peers, and flexible and affordable office space to grow their businesses and thrive. One of just eight Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hubs in the country, the American Underground is home to over 200 smart startups.

“I’ve rarely seen an entrepreneurial ecosystem as thoughtfully developed or successfully executed as the American Underground.”
Paul Singh, venture partner in the international 500 Startups
Beautiful, Durty Durham. View of the American Tobacco Campus from the American Underground @Main
Beautiful, Durty Durham. View of the American Tobacco Campus from the American Underground @Main

The American Underground was launched in 2010 in the basement of the Strickland Building on the American Tobacco Campus (ATC). The American Tobacco Campus is North Carolina’s largest historic renovation project totaling over one million square feet of space. It transformed what was once an eyesore of abandoned tobacco warehouses into a bustling hub for innovation, catalyzing future business leaders and job creators for Durham and the Triangle. With the addition of the American Underground, it has become the perfect mixing place for entrepreneurs with big ideas and the support to make them happen. After outgrowing the AU @ATC location, the American Underground expanded to two additional locations—one in downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville St. and another in downtown Durham on Main St. With just three companies in 2010 to now over 200 companies, the American Underground has become known as the Startup Capitol of the Southeast.

“The American Underground’s remarkable growth has contributed hugely to our community. We’ve seen how the energy and creativity of our entrepreneurs have helped spur the renaissance of our downtowns. Now we can say with certainty that, just as importantly, the impact of the American Underground ecosystem has been a major contributor to the region’s economic success."
Mayor Bill Bell, Durham

The American Underground model has produced remarkable results since launching. In addition to attracting major national media attention ID8Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, Business Insider, AU has attracted partnerships with some of the nation’s most influential startup-support organizations and thought leaders, most notably Google for Entrepreneurs. Through this partnership and others like it, American Underground companies have direct access to top-notch resources to help them scale and thrive. As noted in the 2013-2014 Annual Report, companies headquartered at AU raised a total of $20.7M and created 323 new jobs in 2014 alone. The report (full report shown below) demonstrates that entrepreneurial clusters can and do thrive outside of pricey metropolises much as NYC and San Francisco.

“The question going into the development of the American Underground was essentially: Can a startup hub succeed outside of Silicon Valley? Our report answers with a clear and powerful: YES. We’ve linked with our research universities, our major corporations, funders of all kinds and, of course, smart startup founders to develop a diverse and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
Adam Klein, Chief Strategist, American Underground

Equally important in measuring success is creating a startup community that diverse and inclusive of all. The Triangle is uniquely-positioned to set a national model for better integrating diversity in tech. Currently, 32% of companies at the American Underground are female and or minority led. Through various initiative including SOARTriangle and the CODE2040 EIR program, the American Underground community is dedicated to creating clear avenues for minority entrepreneurial talent to exist and flourish at the AU and in the Triangle. Diversity inevitably creates better and stronger companies that will impact the economy in better ways.

“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 … The American Underground is creating a comprehensive stack of firms that transition from startup to growth venture.”
Professor Ted Zoller of UNC-CH
A’int nobody got time for steps–take the slide! We move at #Bullspeed at the American Underground.
A’int nobody got time for steps–take the slide! We move at #Bullspeed at the American Underground.