By Rebekah Martin
Round House, a start-up space that offers small business owners one-of-a-kind mentoring, recently celebrated a big milestone. Eric J. Anderson, or “Eijah” as he is known in the hacker community and at Round House, recently struck a deal worth $40 million with MGT Capital Investments for his company Demonsaw, LLC, a secure data and file sharing platform. Sandler said this deal is huge for Opelika and huge for Round House, as it is its first big exit.
When Round House first opened in Opelika in October 2014, Sandler said he had no idea it would grow at the rate it has. Round House has seen such success, that he and his team are opening a second location in downtown Mobile today. Sandler said he has plans for locations to open in Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville by the end of next year.
“I never thought that it would grow this fast. We’ve had a lot of issues with people just understanding what we do. First off, the Round House doesn’t rent space. We don’t. We have community memberships that are … some of them come with space,” Sandler said. “This is not a real-estate play. This is about strengthening start-ups and propping them up to be their own companies. The point for us is to help create and build up new companies, and either they’ll get acquired like Demonsaw did, or they’ll keep going and maybe, eventually they’ll go public and start issuing us dividends, or from an Opelika standpoint … we want them to open up their own shingle … If you walk up and down Eighth Street and Ninth Street, there’s a lot of open office and retail space … there’s been a resurgence in downtown Opelika, and it’s obviously getting better, but the more and more companies we can help fill those spaces, the more good it does for the community. That’s one of the reasons the Opelika Economic Development [committee] entered into a development agreement with us, to help market Opelika, to help attract people to Opelika and to help spur economic development,” Sandler said. “It’s not like we got free internet from the city and we resell it. That’s the furthest thing from the truth.”
Sandler said while the future of Round House looks bright with locations opening all over Alabama, Opelika will always be home. “The Round House in Opelika will always be home base and headquarters for all of our operations, we have lots of exciting startups working in Opelika and have a great community both inside and outside of The Round House,” Sandler said.