Tim Scales is Director of Growth at the American Underground, a startup hub and community of entrepreneurs in downtown Durham. Previously, he founded a successful marketing company and an unsuccessful tech startup and learned a lot from both opportunities. He has an MBA from Duke University and lives in Durham with his wife and their boisterous preschooler.
- What is in your pockets?
Two things are always in my pockets. One is my iPhone. It keeps me organized and connected to the AU team and our members. I always try to be available to both because the AU is a 24/7 kind of job. The second is my AU keyfob because I’m in and out of that building all day, most days, and taking advantage of that.
- What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
The American Underground is a startup hub and community of entrepreneurs based in Durham. Founded in 2010. We provide workspace, programs, events, a network and community to entrepreneurs and startup companies, with the goal of helping them scale up from within the downtown Durham community. I think what’s remarkable about the pandemic is that we are emerging with more members than we started with, that we have grown over this time, despite the challenges—and part of that is the incredible growth in new business in corporations. People are starting businesses at a higher rate than we’ve seen in a long time.
And the second is the isolation of the pandemic has really driven people to find community and seek out places and networks where they can be seen and see others and get help and expertise and get support. And just interact with folks who have been on that same journey, either at the same point or at different points, and can be resources and support for them.
- What is your favorite coffee spot?
Coffee at American Underground, and then taking that out on our rooftop patio. But the second is The Oak House around the corner from the AU. Great coffee and just great folks running that place.
- What keeps you up at night?
We have a lot of conversations with entrepreneurs and corporate leaders about the future of the workplace broadly. I think a lot of folks look to the AU as an entrepreneurial organization, in addition to serving as a home for entrepreneurs. They see us as being on the forefront and helping define that for others as well. So we need to look at our space and evolve that to better meet the needs of hybrid companies, and we need to look at our programs to better meet the needs of companies that are facing different challenges than they were a couple of years ago. I think that what keeps me up at night are the questions of how do we need to grow and how do we need to change to serve our entrepreneurs better.
- What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
My favorite happy hour would be the weekly Thursday happy hours we host at the AU, where it’s just the AU members and entrepreneurs and their guests connecting and learning from each other. My favorite restaurant would be Mateo, down Main Street from us. Best tapas in the Triangle.
- What is next for you or your organization?
There are two focuses looking ahead to 2022. Since we are so full in our building, we have very limited office availability. Our areas of growth are to grow our coworking membership. And that means reaching out and really attracting a diverse set of coworkers, those entrepreneurs, ecosystem partners, entrepreneurial people who want to be part of our community. Finding who those people are and finding how best we can serve them to grow that side of our business.
Second is to continue to invest in and commit to our broader mission of being the most diverse tech hub in the country and what that looks like for programming, what that looks like for membership. What larger initiatives we can do ourselves and with partners around the Triangle that help support underserved founders, women, and people of color on a local level, and what we can do to ensure that not just the AU, but our region is the right place for folks to do business.