Coworkers got a little more for their monthly desk fee at American Underground this month.
Over the last two days, they were featured in footage that was aired during a live segment on CNBC’s SquawkAlley this morning. Two local entrepreneurs—Kerri Patterson of My Family Cloud and Tatiana Birgisson of Mati Energy, along with Adam Klein of American Underground and Kevin Dick with the city of Durham—were prominent in the coverage.
It’s the latest in a stream of media attention to Durham and the Triangle so far this year. In recent months, American Underground (owner of ExitEvent), its startups and the city have been featured in the Washington Post, CNET, CNN Money and USA Today.
A media campaign by Wake County Economic Development (WCED) has also earned nearly two dozen media mentions for local companies, and a team including Sharefile founder Jesse Lipson, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and WCED Executive Director Adrienne Cole happen to be in New York this week spreading Raleigh and Wake County’s startup story to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, New York Observer, BBC, Bloomberg and TheStreet.
According to Klein, media attention gives the “chance to share our story—that Durham is unsuspecting but pretty vibrant when it comes to support for entrepreneurs.”
But I was curious what CNBC reporter Kate Rogers had to say. She agreed to chat with me for a few minutes after her live report.
Durham is the first in a series of cities the network will feature over the next four months for a Small Business Cities project in collaboration with Inc. Magazine, she told me.
Durham was first on the list, Rogers says, because it kept coming up during her research as a place with both startup and small business activity, along with a revitalized downtown and connections to that one big company called Google. American Underground and the city of Durham were often cited as drivers of activity, she says.
But it took this week’s visit to cement her views on the place.
“There is tangible energy here in Durham,” Rogers told me. “It is something that you can’t quite explain until you are here and see what the companies have going on and see their loyalty and commitment to staying in Durham.”
Rogers has visited many incubators while covering small business and startups for the New Jersey-based network and previously for Fox Business, but here, she noticed a pride about the place and a genuine commitment not just to Durham, but to the other businesses starting up in town.
“Everyone seems really happy for one another and really encouraging of each other’s ventures, which is a unique case for the startup world, which seems to be pretty cut throat,” she says.
The connection to Google—through the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network and associated annual Google Demo Day—also sets Durham apart. Rogers featured 2015 Demo Day winner Birgisson, maker of healthy energy drinks sold in Whole Foods and other grocery stores, because, “she’s a brand ambassador for Durham” who is committed to the city despite “being wooed by Silicon Valley and having Google forever attached to her company.”
Patterson’s story was intriguing to Rogers because she was laid off from one of the Triangle’s major corporations, Allscripts, before starting her company—an app for helping families organize their lives. Research Triangle Park was typically considered the region’s draw, Rogers points out. Startups are becoming another one.
CNBC hasn’t revealed its next small business city, but Rogers seemed pretty impressed by its first choice.
“You’ve got everything you need here,” Rogers says. “You have talent, energy and commitment from people financing this and a public private partnership.”
Klein and the American Underground team played host over the two days, introducing Rogers to startups and making sure she experienced Durham’s best independently-owned restaurants. She had lunch yesterday at Pizzeria Toro.
“What I appreciate about the CNBC angle was talking about what the presence of startups means for the entire community,” Klein says. “That’s a story we need to do a better job of telling. There’s value in having so many startups in the way in which those companies bring in dollars to spend locally at coffee shops, restaurants and retailers.”