Free space for startups ends, for now

Two years ago, a couple of entrepreneurs launched a small meeting and collaborative office space in Midtown with hopes of highlighting and bringing together metro Atlanta’s often hidden start-up tech scene. They let entrepreneurs take up table space or even office nooks rent free. They hosted standing-room-only crowds for sessions on high-tech topics.

Now, organizers of Hypepotamus are vacating their leased space in a lower level of the Biltmore and with it, possibly, that part of the organization’s role.

The move is in recognition that other places have cropped up locally to host tech entrepreneurs in the early, fragile stages of business life, said Ashish Mistry, a chief executive of a local tech company and one of the financial sponsors of Hypepotamus, which he said has always planned to seek non-profit status.

He cites several existing and planned co-working spaces and tech hubs such as Atlanta Tech Village and Ponce City Market.

Mistry said Hypepotamus organizers have concluded their money could be better spent focusing more on producing free content about tech startups throughout the metro area. Much of that material goes on the organization’s web site and, sometimes, on

“We are going to continue to invest in the people to tell the stories,” Mistry said. “But we don’t necessarily need a clubhouse to do it from because the stories are happening in more places than just our four walls.”

The organization is departing the Biltmore this summer. But Mistry said Hypepotamus may pair with other organizations that could take the lead in managing entrepreneurial space elsewhere. It’s unclear if they would charge entrepreneurs for the space.

Mistry also said a separate entity may take on the Biltmore space for a similar entrepreneurial hub.

Hypepotamus currently has offices for about eight businesses, but also clears tables for individuals trying to get their business dreams off the ground. Some have won early success. A company called ecommHub raised $2.7 million from investors to help online retailers automate their businesses.

Mistry said he believes the businesses currently at Hypepotamus now are strong enough to pay rent for space elsewhere.