I first set foot in HQ Raleigh at an ExitEvent Social last year, before the venue’s official opening. Now, only ten months after its launch in October 2012, HQ Raleigh is expanding. Four-fold.
Since its opening, I’ve been back to HQ Raleigh for a number of events and have talked to several startup founders who are based in the space. I’ve also gotten to know Liz Tracy, HQ Raleigh Community Manager.
All of this attending and talking was not so I could write about it for ExitEvent. Although I’ve done that, too. Most recently, I wrote about their rebranding campaign.
But even my conversation with Liz when I covered HQ Raleigh’s rebranding was driven by more than my interest in their name change. In fact, half of what we talked about wasn’t for that article. This is often the case when I write for ExitEvent.
That’s because I’m not really a reporter. I’m a vampire. Ever seen me out during daylight hours? Didn’t think so.
Really, I’m not a reporter. What I am is a startup founder (wasn’t kidding about the daylight bit) who is very interested in both my company and the Triangle startup ecosystem.
In July, my conversation with Liz was driven by my interest in what HQ Raleigh had to offer to people like me. A few weeks after our conversation I did what I’d been considering doing for months and became an HQ Raleigh Community Member on behalf of my startup, Local-Ventures. I’m just one of the many throughout the Triangle.
That’s why they’re expanding.
Last week, I talked with Jason Widen, HQ Raleigh co-founder and Executive Director, about HQ Raleigh’s move to a larger space. But, as usual, the conversation covered more than the expansion and move. We also talked about entrepreneurial community. Specifically, the value of the HQ member community and, in turn, how HQ Raleigh interacts with the greater Triangle community.
Room to Grow
This fall, HQ Raleigh will be moving to the former Centerline Digital office in Raleigh’s warehouse district. They’ll have almost four times the space, five conference rooms and thirty office suites designed for companies with two to fourteen team members. I thought it sounded reporter-ish to put all those numbers in one sentence.
There will be a coworking space, a cafe area, phone booths, huddle rooms, and an outdoor community space in the alley behind the building, complete with picnic tables.
The need for this additional space isn’t solely driven by new HQ Raleigh coworking and office suite member companies. It’s also due to the growth of current members.
As Jason emphasized, “We want to have companies with growth strategies that are succeeding.” And they do.
For example, HQ Raleigh member Groundfloor started with two team members in the space. They now have five, and will likely have ten by the time HQ Raleigh moves to their new location. SpotTrot and Vital Plan, also based in HQ Raleigh suites, have doubled in head count since they moved in.
So while the new space will allow for new coworking and suite members (an estimated 65 companies, up from the current 45), there will also be more room for growing teams.
More Than Startup Space: Community & Collaboration
After following HQ Raleigh’s development for ten months, talking with their leadership, and now being a member myself, I’d say that their success is due in large part to their community structure and collaboration with others. These distinguishing characteristics allow them to attract new members and to then help their members grow.
The HQ Raleigh Community
HQ Raleigh characterizes itself as two things: startup space and a community. The community includes tenant companies as well as Community Members such as myself. Currently, in addition to the 45 tenant companies, there are approximately 20 Community Members who don’t lease permanent space, but have access to other benefits.
The community is built around five core values, which are the basis for accepting new members: be authentic, empower others, drive forward with purpose, think big, and leave the world better than you found it. These values attract like-minded entrepreneurs and ensure a common foundation among member companies.
Convening of the community happens at HQ Raleigh around a variety of events and resources. Experts in accounting to software development hold open office hours at the space and there are a host of lunch and evening programs designed to support growing companies. There are also on-site HQ member networking events and community activities including trips to Durham Bulls games and volunteer days.
The community mentality of HQ Raleigh extends beyond their membership structure to how they interact with the rest of the Triangle. Jason says HQ Raleigh’s success has largely been built on partnerships with other entrepreneurial resources and organizations throughout the Triangle, such as The Research Triangle Park and CED. Currently, HQ Raleigh is working with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in support of Startup Alley, and it was the first venue outside of Durham to host an ExitEvent Social.
This collaborative attitude, which continually creates new opportunities, was attractive to my startup. It’s also attractive to anyone who wants to see a more connected Triangle ecosystem.
As Blake Callens wrote in July, the Triangle is nationally viewed as “three boroughs of a larger city,” and if we want it to be successful, we need to bridge disconnects between the boroughs.
HQ Raleigh’s community structure allows companies like mine, based in Chapel Hill, to convene with Raleigh-based startups. And their collaborative approach is helping the Triangle become a more cohesive startup environment. And this, Jason told me, is paying off.
“What draws me to this area is that there’s still a sense of collaboration. HQ Raleigh is doing its bit in Raleigh, but we also reach out to others. That’s what has really made us successful.”