HQ Raleigh provides base for the Triangle's start up community

HQ Raleigh is a 20,000-square-foot shared workspace in Raleigh's historic Warehouse District. Its mission: To create a thriving community of entrepreneurs who create lasting economic and social impact.

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Justin Soto / 2016 CBC-UNC Diversity Fellowship
RALEIGH, N.C. — HQ Raleigh is a 20,000-square-foot shared workspace in Raleigh’s historic Warehouse District. Its mission: To create a thriving community of entrepreneurs who create lasting economic and social impact.

There are more than 1,300 entrepreneurial companies in North Carolina, 70 percent of those are located in the Triangle, according to the Council for Entrepreneurial Development.

HQ Raleigh targets those entrepreneurs and members who share their core values, values posted on a chalkboard all around the office, including “leave the world better than you found it” and “empower others.”

The space is currently home to over 140 companies and 300 active members, who can choose to pay $125 a month for 25 hours of co-working or $300 a month for unlimited access. Membership includes café access, a personalized mailbox and free WiFi. Members also get discounted access to area vendors and local conferences.

One of HQ Raleigh's members, Charlotte native Jess Ekstrom, started her Headbands of Hope at the age of 19, in the hopes of providing creative accessories for children battling cancer.

"For every headband we sell, we donate a headband to a child with cancer," she said.

Ekstrom’s initiative sends her across the globe serving children as far away as Belgium and Spain. Headbands of Hope has successfully delivered headbands to every hospital in the United States, a task that Ekstrom is quite proud of.

At home, she gets to help out her own community. “In Raleigh, we work a lot with Duke Children’s and North Carolina Children’s Hospital, so it’s great to be here where there are such great hospitals and childhood cancer initiatives,” Ekstrom said.

Another one of HQ Raleigh's creative start-ups is LearnTrials, a company that works to improve the relationship between technology and education by focusing on student experience and outcomes, bridging the gap for educators around the world.

“No one actually knows what works for kids," Karl Rectanus, founder of LearnTrials said. "We help figure that out with the schools and districts, and we give teachers a voice in that process.”
He wouldn't rather build his business anywhere by Raleigh.

“We love being here because it’s different than Silicon Valley. Folks are building fundamentally sound businesses that are growing quickly and solving real problems,” he said.

“It is a developing city with so much to offer, but yet it’s still balanced with that small-town feel,” Ekstrom said.

Lewis Sheats, a professor of Entrepreneurship who runs the Entrepreneurship Clinic at North Carolina State University, notes that the trend toward home-grown businesses is about more than economics.

“I think the real driving force is the diversity in terms of background and experiences that really makes this area so strong,” Sheats said.

The HQ Raleigh motto is “Mind, Body, Business and Community," a safe space for innovative minds to grow.

Justin Soto, a senior Broadcast Journalism and Political Science major from Boston University, was inspired to pursue a career in journalism after his father survived the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. "I remember being glued to the TV that whole day," Soto says. "From that day, I knew I wanted to be a journalist."


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