As co-working giant We Company continues its expansion in downtown Durham, the city's local co-working space, American Underground, is updating its business model to reach outside of the real estate sector to keep up the competition.
The Capitol Broadcasting-owned co-working hub is finally integrating, Big Top, the networking platform for Triangle tech jobs, that it bought in 2017. The two companies had been operating separately but now American Underground plans to use Big Top to create a new subscription service for connecting companies and workers across North Carolina.
American Underground said in a release that “this is a necessary next step you’ll see other hubs around the country trying, and one that clearly differentiates us from other regional co-working spaces that exist completely within the bounds of a traditional real estate play.”
Now, every company renting space at American Underground (around 234 companies) will automatically become a part of the Big Top network — which is a platform for Triangle startups to post jobs. But the broader goal is also to take American Underground beyond real estate by providing a service that is available to more companies and individuals than just those that are currently renting a desk or an office at one of its buildings, said Molly Demarest, general manager of American Underground.
“If you think about the history of American Underground, it started because of a need for real estate,” Demarest said, noting there was a lack of work space for startups at the beginning of the decade. “The idea was if you could build density, companies would grow faster.”
But now finding talent to work at all of the startups that have started in the Triangle is the No. 1 issue, she said. Demarest said that on average 10 people per day are filling out a profile on Big Top looking for a job — many of them transplants from other parts of the country or state.
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