As we look back on 2018, many of the HQ Raleigh staff have begun calling it our “favorite year.” So many big things happened to prepare us to launch into even bigger, better things. We were able to develop in ways that grew our economic and social impact on the Triangle area and to set the stage for doing the same every year moving forward.

The measure of our success at HQ Raleigh is the success of our members, and in 2018, we are happy to report that the growth and development of this community is helping drive Raleigh forward as a leader of inclusive economic innovation.

By the numbers

Looking at the raw numbers, HQ clearly had a great 2018. We started the year with 182 companies and 400 members and now have 230 companies and 600 members. And this number only reflects those who work out of our space. If you were to collect everyone in our network, it’s an even larger impact. Companies with the biggest footprint, like Pendo and Vital Plan, aren’t even seen in these numbers.

HQ does try to get a picture from our members on how they are doing, but it can be hard to get thousands of busy people to stop and give us an update on their year. From the approximately one-third of our companies who responded to our survey though, we learned that these HQ members raised over $58 million dollars, generated over $79 million in revenue and created over 500 new jobs!

Beyond the numbers

What made 2018 our favorite year was not just the numbers. It’s the story behind the numbers that shows all the exciting ideas and connections being made and how they are re-making the Triangle in front of our eyes. A lot of what we accomplished this year involved setting these foundations that we can build on in 2019 and beyond.

Our mission as a “B Corp” was strengthened and focused:

We had a lot of big B Corp-related news. HQ successfully passed our recertification as a B Corp, even though we were one of the 10 percent that was chosen for a random “audit” and needed to open our books. This is a big win as it allows us to be recognized as a business whose mission is rooted in the planet and people, not just profit.

In addition, we made sure to better hone our diversity and inclusion policies. “We’re definitely more female focused and more focused on diversity and inclusion,” said Jess Porta, director of HQ Raleigh. “This year we’ve been focusing a lot more on what that means in a genuine way.”

Diversity means more than the identities of those in the companies we partner with. It also relates to what type of industries they represent.

“Diversifying the types of companies has been a big reason for our growth this year,” Porta said. “Initially we had modeled ourselves off of Silicon Valley and thought, ‘What Raleigh needs is more tech companies,’ and we worked with developers and recruiters to make that happen. And while that’s important, we’ve really realized there’s something bigger and more important than that.”

This has meant working with companies and organizations that share our B Corp mission, or who are innovating education, like District C, or who simply represent neglected industries and communities that are vital to making everyone in the Triangle area share the success we’re fighting for.

As we expand to the Gateway property off of Capital Boulevard, HQ Raleigh has kept this lesson in the front of our mind. The Gateway campus is in a traditionally African-American part of town, and to really be a positive impact on that neighborhood, it will mean working with local businesses providing products and services needed by the residents, rather than just starting multinational tech companies with little direct benefit to those a block away.

We have also been making strategic use of our events space by letting community members use it on an “in kind” basis, meaning as a non-monetary donation. In 2018, HQ donated over 154 events to small businesses and nonprofits, totaling more than $78,000 worth of in-kind donations.

HQ deepened and expanded our links to area schools and universities

The launch of the Centennial Campus partnership early this year took a lot of preparation last year. NC State has been a long time partner on many projects, including their Entrepreneurship Clinic, which we host in the Harrington Warehouse, but they are not the only educational institution we are forging bonds with.

Meredith College is going to be using our space in a masters program. Campbell University and Wake Tech are also building a presence here. Even the internationally-recognized French college SKEMA Business School developed deeper ties with us over this year.

Our passion for education doesn’t just start with higher education. HQ is now also working with a number of K-12 educational initiatives. District C, which is housed at HQ, helps train teachers in experiential learning techniques; St. Mary’s School uses our space (and District C’s services); the Cary Academy has staff using our space as well. All these connections allow us to be part of important conversations on the future of education in the Triangle.  

The “fourth industrial revolution”

While most people probably aren’t even aware of the “internet of things,” it’s already revolutionizing the way many industries operate. In short, this describes a dynamic where objects are connected through the internet, allowing them, largely-free of direct human oversight, to transfer data as they fulfill whatever purposes they were designed for.

Our own partner RIOT Labs is a pioneer in this new industry and help companies around the world better use this new reality to their advantage. HQ Raleigh is using a number of “IOT” products in our spaces even. As our beer keg empties, information is sent to the vendor so another keg can be sent our way. As members and visitors come in and out of HQ every day, our door is actually counting this movement for us.

“We want to make HQ a testing ground for IOT so companies can try out their IOT products within this physical space,” said Porta. Some are calling it the “fourth industrial revolution,” and by partnering with RIOT Labs and IOT product designers, we can be a part of it all.

That was a lot of good things, right? But stay tuned for much more in 2019; it promises to be another big year, and maybe even our new favorite!