Despite our reputation as a homegrown, low-key city with a population under 100,000, Asheville’s entrepreneurial scene has punched above its weight for years — and now the rest of the country is taking notice.
A recent analysis by LinkedIn’s Economic Graph team places our city as the 7th fastest-growing tech hub in the nation. That’s in addition to this week’s feature from startup publication Hypepotamus that shouts out the special sauce of Asheville’s entrepreneurial culture — and how it brings new tech talent to town.
To better understand Asheville’s appeal as a tech hub, we spoke with Clark Duncan of Economic Development Coalition (EDC), and Jeff Kaplan of Venture Asheville — and they confirmed, Asheville is so much more than craft beer, CBD, and organic veggies.
According to them, the three biggest factors spurring Asheville’s tech growth are:
1. The ecosystem
Recurring networking events like 1 Million Cups, AVL Digital Nomads, Asheville Women in Tech, and Meet the Geeks make it easy for folks to make the connections that are vital to launching a business or finding a tech job.
Plus, Venture Asheville’s world-class startup mentorship — as well as support organizations like Hatch, Black Wall Street, Mountain BizWorks, and the SBTDC — ensure, in the words of Clark, that “every entrepreneur has a road map and can get access to the right support at the right time in their journey.”
2. The rise of digital nomads
Asheville has been ranked one of the Top US Metros for Digital Nomads. Jeff predicts that this migration of talent will lead to new venture creation.
”Today, they’re remote workers, but I expect that when looking for something new, they’ll look locally first — or to start something of their own, because we’ve made it easy for folks to start something here.”
3. The culture
The Asheville startup scene has its own podcast, an annual (and gold medal-winning) Venture 15 Awards celebration, and regular open-mic style “pitch events” that keep locals engaged and excited about their endeavors.
This local energy, plus Asheville’s unique approach to the entrepreneurial journey, breeds stronger and healthier companies that thrive in the long run (think: Soulku, Ecobot, and Elite HRV).