LaMarca has embraced the Durham scene as if he's been here all his life. You don't see him out too often, but when you do, he's having a good time and talking about BringMeThat, startups, Durham, or some combination.
He signed up to play ping pong at the May ExitEvent Social, but took an absentee forfeit in the first round.
"Yes," he says. "I was late because I was working."
BringMeThat, TabSprint, Taggs, Tuee, and Vacation Futures will all take the big stage at Carolina Theatre tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. for Pitch Day, their graduation from the Spring 2013 TSF class.
It's a big upgrade over the previous Pitch Day stage at Bay 7. And since I've been to all of these since TSF was sort of Launchbox back in 2011, i'm assuming there will be more investors, more audience, more everything.
It's also metaphorically a bigger stage in terms of being the opening act of Paradoxos, the two-day celebration of what's next in Durham. So this means that these five companies will be everyone's first glimpse of Durham Next.
Don't eff it up.
BringMeThat launched in January -- of this year -- it's barely six months old. Liang had used similar online food delivery services in New York for years but back in his hometown in Ohio, nothing like that existed. He felt it should.
He and LaMarca researched a number of accelerators but realized the market in Durham would mimic the Ohio market, and that the class was small enough that they felt like it would be a tight knit community with better access to the advisors.
BringMeThat had just expanded to all of Ohio when they were accepted into TSF, and within two weeks they found sublets for their places in New York (they live and operate out of New York even though the company operates in Ohio, which is smart, because they're thinking nationally anyway), and found a loft just a few blocks from American Tobacco.
Since they didn't bring a car, they walked everywhere, and eventually started exploring the city on bike.
"The food culture is amazing," LaMarca says. "Which fits well with our business."
BringMeThat is unique in that they were operational before getting accepted, and during the semester have been advertising (with some of those ads popping up on ExitEvent via AdSense - you might be looking at one right now). They've also used blogging, print, remarketing, and social media, and have been sticking with campaigns that work. They're not so much trying to create a business as to find its best route to high growth.
Like the rest of the companies pitching tomorrow, BringMeThat is aware of the increase in the size and scope of Pitch Day. Since they're past the idea stage with a full-fledged (if a little minimum viable) product, they'll be demoing the traction in the business and explaining how they replicated that success from scratch in another state. They'll be looking for seed funding to amp up their tech and get into mobile
TSF is known for its dedication for providing a long runway after Pitch Day, and if the opportunity is there to stick around Durham, LaMarca will take it.
"The community here has really been amazing," he says. "It's been great to be part of Durham's startup scene. With it only being a few years old, it's like being part of something ground level."
And if Paradoxos turns out like its organizers hope, Durham won't be ground level for much longer.