Exclusive: HUB Raleigh Unveiled Today in Downtown - 1

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Exclusive: HUB Raleigh Unveiled Today in Downtown - 1
As HUB Raleigh nears its grand opening on Nov. 1, I stopped by last week to check out how the new incubator was coming along.

I took a half-hour tour with Jason Widen, one of the partners in the venture who is managing the space, stopped in on (interrupted the work of) three teams and chatted about the goals and philosophy of the hub with Jason.

I didn't know what to expect when HUB Raleigh was announced, other than knowing that there was significant capital involved and people with good track records as entrepreneurs were partnering on the venture. But I've realized in the past two months since the announcement that the Raleigh startup scene is evolving in a different way from the Durham scene. And what I saw on the tour was that the HUB is aware of that and working with that.

The Durham scene, which began around 2007-08 after the streetscape improvements of downtown were completed, is more focused, almost at times like there's an electric current running through the air.

Raleigh is more diffuse, which is not a bad thing, just different. And HUB Raleigh is not an American Underground kind of workshop of tech startups and accelerators but a more communal space for a variety of entrepreneurs. The plan right now is for the HUB to be not only a center for entrepreneurs, but also to attract students, provide a stepping stone for the 9-to-5 crowd and connect with Raleigh's well-developed arts community.

If there was a comparison in Durham, I'd say HUB Raleigh reminded me of Golden Belt, the art studios and apartment lofts campus that has provided a way for artists in Durham to be more visible to the wider community.

But anyway, enough with the Durham comparisons. More details on the HUB's partnerships and flexible co-working plan, their inaugural class of startups and entrepreneurs and their core values.

Flexible co-working plan

HUB is in talks with several partners to offer workshops and programming at the space. Innovate Raleigh is on board, and so is Derrick Minor, director of development at Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and more partners are expected to be announced by Nov. 1.

There are three suite members and 15 co-working teams so far. HUB hopes to have about 75 people in the incubator by the end of the year.

HUB's co-working membership starts at 25 hours/month for $100, and is a month-to-month commitment. The flexibility should allow for a wide range of people to come and go through the incubator, such as students off from school during the summer, or people working on projects at home who want a change of scenery and a place to mingle with other entrepreneurs.

"Entrepreneurs are looking for more levels of time," Jason said. "And in order to make this financially viable, we've got to have a bigger community."

There is a ping-pong table, beer and coffee in Click Cafe, and N.C. State design college students are helping them decorate.

The inaugural class includes:

- Vital Plan, a health supplements company, is in the first office from the entrance, where they were getting settled into their new digs.

- Spot Trot, which builds mobile stores for the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry through a contract with Live Nation.

- Leadership exCHANGE, Jason's company, develops leadership programs for college students that are held in Italy, Argentina, Cuba. The company is looking to start a program in the Triangle.

- The Raleigh Forum, which has been following Raleigh's entrepreneurial scene for a while, shuttered their co-working office and moved into HUB's digs.

- Sanitation Creations, developing an environmentally friendly Dungaroo, seeks to improve the Porta-Potty experience as well as provide sanitation to people in areas with poor water supply.

- City Fabric, which creates T-shirts printed with cities' engineering maps.

- Pulse and Signal, which provides PR/marketing services specializing in health.

HUB Values

A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. Or at least 21 words in this case.

Here's what the inaugural class of the HUB agreed on as being their core values:

1. Empower others.
2. Drive forward with purpose
3. Leave the world better than you found it
4. Be authentic
5. Think big!

Jason is a relative newcomer to the Triangle, having been lured here about a year ago from Bloomington, Ind., by our good weather and oh, our entrepreneurial scene too, which he said made him feel welcomed to be part of a grassroots community.

So what does it mean to be an entrepreneur in Raleigh? I asked him.

"Durham has done a really good job branding itself as this gritty, entrepreneurial scene," Jason said. "We're trying to empower, facilitate, and grow entrepreneurs in Raleigh, helping people's ideas come to fruition. Maybe there hasn't been enough of that conversation in Raleigh."