The Innovation Depot was massive. Massive. After a week of seeing incubators and co-working spaces, they all begin to have elements that blend together. And then we got to Birmingham. On Friday morning, we headed into downtown in search of coffee. We failed. And were unhappy about our failure. I think that's the first time that I've been in a city center and not been able to locate a Starbucks. That was a bad omen for the day that thankfully turned out not to be true.
I woke LoriAnne up before the sun on Thursday. She was not happy with me. It was an awesome drive from Asheville to Chattanooga through the mountains. We got to Chattanooga for our first meeting with a local startup around 9:30 and got an awesome product demo. Chattanooga has a lot of exciting innovation happening and was one of the first cities in the country with internet access of up to one gigabit per second for the public. The city also has an innovative program called GeekMove that attracts development talent to the city. That type of forward thinking has attracted a lot of talent to the region.
After leaving the NEXT Innovation Center, we (sadly) didn't get any time to tour downtown Greenville as we had to get to Asheville for meetings early the next morning. On the drive to Asheville, the Mini hit a significant milestone. Obviously, LoriAnne is taking the picture as I practice safe driving. We got to Asheville that night and had delicious Indian street food at Chai Pani and then had a refined evening reading some dusty, old books while sipping on champagne. Asheville is one of my favorite destination towns in the Southeast and I always like hanging out downtown at night. Oddly, on Tuesday night, the place was dead quiet except the champagne bookstore. An early morning called for an early evening and we were tucked in to bed by 10PM.
We started our tour with grand ambitions to blog every day between cities. We quickly realized that the sheer amount of meetings and travel required to cover 2,100 miles and 6 cities in 5 days was going to make blogging daily impossible. This is attempt #2: our daily reflection on our travels.