Yesterday, the journey of building Rivalry took me 2 hours north on I85 to the city of Greenville, South Carolina. This trip was spawned by a serendipitous relationship from the Atlanta Tech Village.
Successful entrepreneur, Damien Stevens literally walked into my office as he visited the Atlanta Tech Village from Greenville this past January morning to talk sales process management. Damien is building disaster recovery software for MSPs and IT resellers called Servosity — they’re growing fast and hiring 30+ people this year.
I had no idea what to expect cruising up 85 and I couldn’t have been more surprised at what I found.
Brief History of Greenville, South Carolina
In 1917, Greenville, South Carolina was known as the “Textile Center of the World.”
Entrepreneurs, like Max Heller, helped build the city into a booming economy after the war, outfitting much of the South in quality shirts, pants, and more.
Read more about Greenville’s history here.
“NEXT: The most advanced mixture of entrepreneurs, government, big business, and technology accelerators in one building.”
That’s my quote above, not anyone from Greenville.
The ride was nice and I rolled into Greenville, SC around 10 a.m.. Took a quick right off their perimeter and faced the NEXT building: below is a picture of it a night.
This is more how I saw it:
It was a great vibe.
I walked in, and it was no different than any other buzzing tech hub. Everyone was very kind and the companies are all in there humming away on product and distribution.
The Background of NEXT
NEXT is the brainchild of the community. The Greenville Chamber of Commerce helped organized all the entrepreneurs starting in 2006 and titled the program “NEXT.” They met once a month to talk shop and strategy. They realized, what they really wanted was to work around each other. With the help of an adventurous commercial real-estate developer and an old-warehouse, NEXT Innovation Center was built. There is an office in NEXT that has someone from the Chamber of Commerce in there everyday.
How NEXT Works:
Offering entrepreneurs spaces to build companies. There are many types of working facilities in NEXT.
Co-working: where you can come in and share a desk with other co-workers.
Rent a desk: there are about 8 different cubes that you can rent a month (pictured below).
Small office space: on the lower floors there was enclosed office space for 2-5 people.
Full Spaces for 30+ people companies: these are the big companies on the 2 floor. Damien and Servosity just moved up to the 2 floor with into the office space picture below:
The offices are great but having a few rooms with wii, ping pong, and more make it much more relaxed and comfortable.
Accelerators: The Iron Yard
The Iron Yard is part of the global accelerator network. They just had their first cohort last year. The pictures below are of the space:
Here is the meeting area for gatherings and speakers.
Here are some teams from the last year’s accelerator working on their company.
Big Business and Startups:
Not only does NEXT have a startup accelerator, flexibility for company growth, a Chamber of Commerce representative on staff, but they also have a representative from Michelin Tires in the office sourcing deals and making anywhere to $50k-$100k investments. Wow.
The Benefits of Startup Community Network Effects
Greenville is scrappy. They’ve consolidated some of their greatest resources in one building and it’s something to admire.
As their startup community grows, making strong connections with them will help the Atlanta Startup Community – whether it’s through services, customers, or brain-share. The folks in Greenville are definitely folks we want to embrace and know better.
I recommend next time you’re in Greenville, to stop by and drop into the NEXT Innovation Center.