Leaving the nest – Looking for start-up co-working and incubator space

I have worked from home for the better part of a decade either from my past location in PA or my present location in NC. Thanks to getting a recent grant, I now need to hire a postdoc and that means I can fly the nest (which in my case is my home). But with that comes a whole new array of challenges. This experience may be common to others who have spent long periods working from home who are in the same position (or not), so I thought I would share my experiences.

Working remotely for this long has many advantages – you can dress how you want, work when you want and pretty much do whatever you want – within reason if you are going to remain productive. The cons are just as long – well the main disadvantage is you feel like a prisoner working pretty much 24/7, living at home, especially if you have nothing nearby such as shops etc. Also the lack of interaction with others on a daily basis apart from by email or twitter makes you feel like you are totally isolated.  For the past 5 yrs I have been a literal prisoner, I could have traveled to Mars and back in that time. Instead my only trips have been on business.. OK so you get the picture. So what happens if you have a small company (1-2) people, then what are your options? If you are in a big city you probably have lots of co-working space, or office space – you can rent a room/ cubicle as desired. But what if you want a lab, then your options plummet.

I live in what for many would be a great commuting location. 30min from Raleigh, 30 min from research triangle park, 50-60 min from Chapel Hill or Durham. And yes there are great offices and labs spaces in all these places ..but when it comes to a really small company again you are limited further because its not a spin out from UNC etc. My best bet so far is the incubator at NC State.. over 3 weeks ago I submitted an application (and today a response!) That and the 30 min commute made me want to think what could I do locally as well. I could also put that extra hour lost in commuting to good use. I also have emailed or visited several options locally and visited incubators in other states so I thought why not make a slide deck that might be useful to others undergoing the same hunt. Last week I put my incubator hunting experience up on slideshare. 

This helped to get a bit of attention on twitter and folks told me about other places opening in the future. Today I met with three representatives from my local town and chamber of commerce. Literally this doubled the number of people I have met locally (beyond my optician, coffee shop /bakery, and picture frame shop). I clearly do not get out that much. So I gave them my pitch, what I do, what I would like to build (a biotech, here locally in Fuquay Varina), what I have done so far, how I want to create jobs here etc…I learnt the town would like to create an incubator, there is no time frame but first they need to find a building and measure the level of interest. So this may be my next crazy adventure, not only building a biotech but also a space for other start-ups. In the interim they provided some potential leads on small office space.. its a start. My bet is I will end up at the NC State incubator initially, and from there who knows.

At the weekend, while browsing an old building/ being used as an antiques warehouse in town I realized that it would be perfect for an incubator space- not too far from local amenities, centrally located, not too big, not too small…

To be continued…





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