In the two years that Adam Klein worked for the Durham Chamber of Commerce, he rewrote the book on how the public sector should support the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In that time, he came up with big ideas like Startup Stampede and The Smoffice.
I’m biased, because his philosophy is the same as ExitEvent’s:
“Listen to the entrepreneurs, give them the support, resources, and tools they need, then get out of the way.”
So it makes perfect sense that Capitol Broadcasting, the company behind the American Underground entrepreneurial hub, snatched Adam from the public sector to what has become the model for how the private sector should support the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Again, just like ExitEvent, but with millions of more dollars.
Michael Goodmon brought up the notion of Adam coming over to American Underground late last winter, when the two of them were meeting to talk about the success and future strategies for the region. The position is new, created specifically for Adam, and his duties will involve marketing, promotion, programming, strategy and leasing.
Adam sees it as an evolution. Just as the entrepreneurial community here has risen from one level to another and is poised to go to the next, this new position gives him the opportunity to support that move. He loved his time at the Chamber, and who wouldn’t, with the freedom that they gave him to do what he did being a rare phenomenon.
“A lot of private sector entities are coming in to support the ecosystem,’ he says. “You’ve got Triangle Startup Factory, ExitEvent, and so on. I see that as a sign of sustainability for long term growth.”
On day one, it’s not going to be much different than what he’s doing now. He’s going to meet with and continue to listen to a lot of entrepreneurs, figure out what is working and what is not, but he still needs to map out the next six-months. One thing he knows he wants to do, however, is bring more programming and events to the Underground.
And this is a sign, I think anyway, of where Adam brings added value to American Underground in this role. AU has done a great job in support the existing early-stage entrepreneurs here. As Adam noted (from something he’s heard before), the best resource you can provide entrepreneurs is other entrepreneurs, and if you puts lots of them in one place, it makes a big difference.
Again, a lot like ExitEvent, except we also get them drunk.
But with Adam aboard, AU has the opportunity to go one step further and provide the structure to help create new entrepreneurs. Whether that’s reaching out and establishing partnerships with the Universities, or by giving them a chance to test the waters, so to speak, reducing the enormous risk, perceived or otherwise, that comes along with starting a company.
I believe he’ll do this, and I’m kind of excited to see it happen.