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COVID-19 Prompts TekMountain Shift To Virtual Model For Startups

By Johanna Cano, posted Jul 1, 2020
the tekMountain space at 1844 Sir Tyler Drive will remain closed for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Will Page,courtesy of CastleBranch)
tekMountain, the Wilmington coworking space with the goal of supporting local startups, is closing its physical space for the “foreseeable future” and transitioning to a virtual phase because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an announcement.

Lauren Henderson, the chief financial officer of CastleBranch, a Wilmington company that owns tekMountain, sent a notice to members last week stating that the tech startup space will be transitioning into a virtual one.

“With COVID-19 cases surging locally and across the country, reopening a facility where tables, seats, tools and resources are shared and frequently rotated amongst a dynamic, changing group of individuals is problematic, and we believe doing so would jeopardize everyone’s safety,” Daniel Schechtman, director of communications with CastleBranch, said in an email. “For this reason, our physical space will remain closed for the foreseeable future, and we will transition into a virtual setting to allow for the sharing of ideas, innovation and development.”

Members of tekMountain, which include startups such as myBeeHyve and Flow ROI, have been off the premises at 1844 Sir Tyler Drive since March 16, Schechtman said.

While the startup incubator has not heard back from all tekMountain members about the announcement, those who have responded say they are looking forward to the next virtual phase, he said.

“Transitioning tekMountain into a virtual space allows us to expand our reach far beyond our community,” he said. “Our network and knowledge-base can and will expand outside these four walls, allowing our members to take advantage of both national and international resources.”

To guide the virtual transition, tekMountain is forming a committee consisting of tekMountain members that will “ensure all can remain tethered, connected and supported.”

“The committee will, among other initiatives, help us to plan and launch a variety of virtual events to help support our local entrepreneurs,” Schechtman said. “More to come from the committee in the near future.” 
 
Additionally, tekMountain is partnering with Genesis Block, a coworking and collaboration space in downtown Wilmington started by Tracey and Girard Newkirk.

“We were inspired by the mission of Genesis Block as a community collaborative committed to inclusion and have been impressed with the organization's recent online events and discussions,” Schechtman said. “Genesis Block is an exciting addition to Wilmington's entrepreneurial community, and we're looking forward to introducing our tekMountain members to all they have to offer.”
 
CastleBranch, a compliance management and infectious disease screening company, opened tekMountain in 2014. Since then, many startups have been members, and some have “graduated” out of the space.
 
The company said it is currently exploring all possibilities for what to do with the tekMountain space while making sure it follows the proper safety precautions, including social distancing.
 
tekMountain hopes this new virtual phase can be a growth opportunity for all, where new ideas and exploration can occur not just at one site, but virtually across the country, the announcement stated.

“Our network and knowledge-base can and will expand outside these four walls, allowing our members to take advantage of both national and international resources,” Schechtman said.
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