CHAPEL HILL – 1789 is the newest business incubator to open in Chapel Hill. It’s geared toward Carolina students and recent graduates, with the goal of supporting the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Following in the footsteps of Launch Chapel Hill, it will act as a feeder to its predecessor. Young entrepreneurs are already moving in to the space, with innovative ideas in the works.
UNC alum Aaron Scarboro has played a key role in getting 1789, which has arguably the coolest office space in Chapel Hill, up and running.
“We really want to be able to create an impact on the entrepreneurial community in the Triangle. We think we are filling a pretty big niche here. Launch is for the later-staged companies, and we are trying to focus on encouraging students who may have never thought of themselves as entrepreneurs before.” Scarboro said.
Named for the year when UNC was founded, 1789 is located above Four Corners and is replete with conference tables, a kitchen, sitting areas, and private phone booths. For times when venturists want a creative break, there’s a ping-pong table and arcade game machines. Scarboro explained it took a lot of work to get the space ready for business.
“The floor was dirty, walls and windows were all dirty and grimy,” Scarboro said. The windows were broken and had bars over them—it was an absolute wreck. Over the course of about three months, we did a great job of renovating it, and it is an awesome space now.”
1789 also has one of the best views in town, with wide, open windows looking onto Franklin Street.
“The idea behind 1789 was that this was going to be a workspace for students and graduates to come and be able to work on an idea. We didn’t want people closed off in their own office space. We definitely wanted ideas to be thrown around and people to interact with each other. We do have some private spaces but really we wanted an open collaborative space,” Scarboro said.
After overseeing the renovation process, Scarboro then transitioned into an administrative role. He says local businessman and philanthropist Jim Kitchen had the vision for 1789 and was also heavily involved in LaUNCh Chapel Hill. After just a few months, 1789 is currently home to eight business ventures, from fair trade clothing makers to video production specialists.
Chapel Hill native Mary Elizabeth Lovelace worked closely with Scarboro to open 1789.
“It’s been really exciting to see it transform from a space under construction to a working venture lab,” Lovelace said.
Lovelace graduated from the University of Richmond. She did not have access to a program like this during her college years, so she has enjoyed seeing the venturists take advantage of a great opportunity.
“It is awesome to watch the entrepreneurial ecosystem grow in Chapel Hill because it wasn’t like this five years ago. There’s been so much to increase it, and 1789 is a huge part of that,” Lovelace said.
She explained that all a student needs to get involved with 1789 is a viable idea and willingness to take risks.
“It is really exciting to see the students get fired up about their ideas and the possibilities within those ideas,” Lovelace said.
Senior Kailey Izzard is an entrepreneurship minor at UNC and is interning with 1789.
“I always had a passion for entrepreneurship so I thought I might start my own business one day. I starting interning here  and realized that I love managing people who are starting their own businesses to help them turn it into something real,” Izzard said.
Scarboro said he is working to recruit new ventures for the fall and also looking for business experts to mentor the young entrepreneurs.
“Hopefully we will be able to recruit mostly through word of mouth, through our interns, and our current ventures talking to people about it. We hope to generate a buzz on campus,” Scarboro said.
For more information on how to apply for the program, click here.