Editor’s note: Adam Klein, the chief strategist for the American Underground, is blogging for WRALTechWire from the World Chambers Congress in Qatar.

DOHA, QARTAR – The Smoffice wins gold!

The Smoffice has just been declared the winner of the World’s Most Unconventional Economic Development initiative at the World Chambers Congress, announced today in Doha, Qatar. We were up against national chambers from Korea, Slovenia, Finland and Germany, all of which were very well funded and very quality projects. So, it did come as a shock to us when our name was called as the winner today.

I was shaking on stage before they announced the winner and cheered loudly when Durham was called. Casey Steinbacher and Matthew Coppedge, next to me on stage, didn’t hear our name very well so my gorilla hug almost knocked them over!

Last night our team was not very optimistic knowing that no U.S. community had ever won an award at this eight annual international event.

Our presentation went against the grain, relying on quirky images and concepts from our web site (thanks Kompleks Creative!) and emphasizing the amount of community support in Durham and the Triangle for entrepreneurship.

We had to overcome the notion that a 2.5 sq meter office could do something that was regionally or nationally significant. Casey Steinbacher of the Durham Chamber focused her remarks on the context for The Smoffice (downtown Durham, coffee shops, and a density level of entrepreneurs).

In the end, that strategy seemed to work. We spoke with the head of the WCC afterward and he told us the judges were impressed by the presentation and even how unconventional we were throughout.

Being in this setting, alongside chambers from around the world, has given me and our team greater appreciation for the amount of collaboration and the quality of the Triangle entrepreneurial community.

We are really in the midst of the something special with the universities, startups, large companies, and others that make our region and our downtown an incredible place to do business.

I am returning to Durham and the Triangle with a renewed sense of how exceptional our community is, ready to get back to work on more new projects.

But for now, we’re going to go celebrate!

(Editor’s note: The American Underground is part of the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham. It is owned by Capitol Broadcasting, which is the parent firm of WRALTechWire.)