Deepak Gopalakrishna is a director of Startup Grind Durham. He's also the founder of RxAnalytics and ex-CEO of NovoLipid. Deepak has a PhD in genetics and is also a CrossFit Games competitor
I spent the summer out in San Francisco/Silicon Valley and got a first hand taste of the startup scene here -- so much so, that I now spend about 1/3 of my time out here. Particularly intriguing to me was how amazing it was to go out and meet new people at startup events pretty much on a daily basis.
I was able to talk through what I was doing and get various tangential thoughts from people. I got connected to people who I was trying to meet, including VCs and others working in parallel areas for potential future collaborations. It was also another way to run some competitor analysis.
While we have a few events in the Triangle (the ExitEvent Startup Social being a prime example), I came away feeling that expanding a Silicon Valley offering out to the Triangle would be a great way to contribute to the community.
In particular, I wanted to bring our entrepreneurs an opportunity to ask specific people questions about issues they may be struggling with. And I wanted to bring entrepreneurs one-on-one access to people they otherwise may never have access to.
So I'm bringing Startup Grind to our wonderful startup community. It's a speaker series with some informal networking. --Read On
Bill Bing is formerly the founder of Durham startup Loyalese and Square 1 Ventures and currently co-founder of DAS Communications.
You may have heard or read about the recent changes to Reg D 506c – the SEC's rules related to general solicitations for private offerings. Here's a link if you haven't.
If you don't want to read it or find the link confusing, here's the synopsis: private offerings can now be issued through general solicitations (including online), provided that reasonable steps are taken to ensure that all buyers (i.e. investors) are accredited.
To be “accredited,” investors must have a net worth of at least $1 million, or an annual income of at least $200K (or $300K jointly with a spouse).
I believe this change to Reg D is a huge development that will alter the landscape of early stage venture capital. The change enables companies to raise capital online through platforms like AngelList and WeFunder that are essentially marketplaces for early stage companies and accredited investors to connect. At face value this might not seem to be all that momentous, but here are three reasons why I believe that in time this will be a game changer. --Read On
In the summer of 2012, Raleigh's Ginny Porowski entered Groundwork Labs as the inventor of the GoGown. She had filed patents on her new disposable isolation gown in 2009 and was looking to get the product to market.
This was not a website launch or app release. Commercialization was different here. I've watched several health care entrepreneurs struggle on their way to market as they deal with the industry's web of buyers, manufacturers, distributors, influencers, regulators, and so on.
So after considering the options, Ginny, who also has a counseling and consulting practice in Raleigh, chose to work with Edison Nation Medical to commercialize the GoGown.
Edison Nation Medical, in turn, has now closed a licensing agreement with Medline, the largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of health care and surgical products in the US. Medline will be adding the GoGown to its line of over 350,000 products, which are sold to hospitals and health care facilities throughout the US.
So let's sort through the players and relationships involved to see how this came together.
But before that, let's address why you swear you've heard that last name before. You're either really into solid state physics, or you're familiar with Ginny's daughter, Avelist CEO Jody Porowski, who we've covered before.
When I arrived at Crank Arm Brewing last Monday night, a half-hour prior to the start of the November ExitEvent Startup Social, I was greeted by an awesome sight.
I mean besides all the taps and such.
There were four entrepreneurs and one investor I recognized immediately who were there for the Social, already halfway into a pint.
Or at least I hoped they were there for the Social.
So I checked - did they get the time wrong? Was this just happy coincidence? Did they start their own network/content website/event?
I mean, people show up early, but never a half-hour early.
Nope. Turns out most of them didn't have far to go anyway, and since they were knocking off early to go to the Social, and since entrepreneurs never knock off early, they figured they might as well go all in and knock off a little earlier. So they were just already there, hanging out and enjoying a pint.
A pint I wasn't paying for.
Which means, in essence, they didn't need me, or ExitEvent, or 200 other entrepreneurs, or for their beer to be free. They just showed up and started talking. Most of them were meeting for the first time.
This has implications. Almost all of them good. --Read On
Aaron Houghton is a serial entrepreneur who builds web marketing products for small business marketers. He recently co-founded content optimization software startup BoostSuite, where he serves as CEO. Previously, Houghton co-founded email marketing leader iContact which was purchased by Vocus in 2012 for $180 million.
What does a guy who built his career in the email marketing business know about website content marketing? Well, here's the deal. I built iContact into a market leader by doing content marketing… ten years ago.
Plain and simple. In the early days of the industry, from 2002 through 2006 we dominated web content on the topic of email marketing. When people were first hearing about the concept, we were some of the leading writers on the topic.
In fact, a relic of our efforts from 2002 still remains online. As one of the first marketing tactics we ever tried, my co-founder Ryan Allis wrote down everything in his head - that he learned during a high school internship - about email marketing.
His knowledge and experience turned into about 100 pages of content on email marketing related topics ranging from simple definitions to best practices. The Email Marketing Software Resource (http://www.email-marketing-software-resource.com/) was born. A standalone property from our product website.
The EMSR website, as we called it, was a boon for our fledgling software company. It captured the attention of the search engines who in result delivered hundreds then thousands of monthly visitors to the site. Some of these visitors found their way through to our product which at that time was called IntelliContact Pro (later renamed iContact). We were in business!
Seriously, I cannot believe this website is still online. Time travel. Wow.
Anyway, my point is this. Ten years ago if you were an expert in your field you could quickly build a large audience by creating a bunch of online content on a wide variety of topics. Today, just like ten years ago, writing 100 high quality articles is hard work. But new challenges and opportunities exist that impact the size and quality of the audience you will build in result. --Read On
I wasn't going to go to another startup event. Really.
Over the past several days, I've watched 37 startup pitches, and those are just the formal ones. Many more were heard in the form of conversations I had in between the microphones and slides at various events.
But then the Pitch Party, hosted by the Carolina Challenge, was on Thursday night, right in my backyard, Chapel Hill. Yes, that third point in the polygon that makes up the Triangle region. The ‘burbs.
And, as usual when I don't plan on going but go anyway, I'm glad I went. (I never make bad decisions.)
Hot on the heels of its successful Triangle Startup Weekend, Chapel Hill, specifically UNC-Chapel Hill, put on what might just be one of the best startup events in the Triangle.
Here's how the Pitch Party works: 48 startups led by at least one UNC student, staff, or faculty member founder, give 3-minute pitches. The crowd includes close to 100 judges who each get five $100 “votes” and one $1000 “vote.”
Here's where it gets good: Three pitches are going at once, meaning judges can only watch one-third of the showcasing companies. And before the pitches start, there's an hour or so of mingling, during which time teams swarm the judges, recruiting viewers for their pitch. --Read On
I'm about to have my first child, a girl, in December. In twenty-two years, if she has the entrepreneurial bug like her old man, I want her to not only have the right skills, I also want there to be a vibrant, full-spectrum startup community in the Triangle for her to work in.
I don't want her to be plucked out of school to work at a company three thousand miles away, because few, if any, exciting, disruptive businesses are here. I don't want her to have to work in the dog-eat-dog, money over quality of life, California tech scene that I came from. I don't want to have to get on a plane to see my grandchildren, like her grandparents will have to do. I'm selfish in that way.
I know we have the power to make Raleigh-Durham a national player in the startup realm, because I've never seen a place that so closely mimics the burgeoning startup scene of 1970s Silicon Valley. I believe it's possible to make that change, while keeping the quality of life that makes our city so amazing.
It's not a mission with quick solutions, like throwing money at companies. It requires a cultural shift that may take decades. It means changing the Triangle from a “big data” and pharmaceutical town into a full service technology town; an economic area where you can find the best B to B and B to C products being developed. We need to foster a business community that is known as much for its style as its substance. Only then will we be able to keep our top, home-grown talent. --Read On
Ricky Spero is co-founder and VP of Product Development at Rheomics, developing a next-gen blood coagulation diagnostic.
Last saturday, I went to the Startup Giveback. Local startups Coursefork and Shoeboxed had arranged a corn hole tournament and hooked us up with donated Fullsteam Beer and BBQ from The Pit. But for an event about giving, I was struck by how little of the conversation was actually about giving. Which got me thinking—what should we have been talking about?
Here's a suggestion: let's talk about what happens after the exit event.
What happens if your company is a hit? Maybe you go and buy a new car (or jet—depends on the size of the hit). Or start a charity and do some angel investing. Maybe you run for Governor or endow a university. Maybe you build an underground bunker, buy a lot of stuff, and sit on it all day, waiting for dwarves.
In the Valley, the tradition is that you pay it forward by rolling some dollars into angel investments. We're early enough in this 20-year project that there's not a yet a set of cultural norms for what you're supposed to do when your company hits it big. But there will be, and this is the time when we set expectations.
Which brings us to my ask. At the next Social, try this on as a conversation starter: “If your company is a hit, what would you do with all that money?” --Read On
Triangle Startup Weekend has been making rounds throughout the Triangle for a while, but Friday, Saturday, and Sunday marked the event's first stop in Chapel Hill.
Many of us were wondering how it would turn out.
To start, I can say that it looked good when I walked in on Saturday night.
After much consideration, the organizers, led by Avanhi Parekh, Nick Troxel, and Datt Patel, decided to hold the event at the recently renovated Frank Porter Graham Student Union on UNC-Chapel Hill's campus.
The Student Union is a large, attractive space fitted with good technology.
So that was nice.
But what about the startups that were produced after a weekend of modeling, coding, and customer discovery?
I was impressed there, too.
The event had 86 participants, with developers being sparser than usual (likely due to a hackathon also being held last weekend at Duke). Eleven teams gave final pitches. --Read On
So Wednesday night I ended up standing around in a museum, nursing a beer and waiting to see Coolio. And how many times do you get to write that sentence? But as this surreal scene played out, one which would bend my brain right up until Coolio started agitating some of the marketing execs who weren't as into it as they maybe should have been, a cool thing happened.
The word has gotten out 500 words at a time. It speaks to the validation of ExitEvent when the site or the Social come up in casual conversation with people who don't have any idea who the hell I am. I love that moment when it happens in startup - it means you've disassociated your company from yourself, and people see it as a real, living, breathing thing.
And I'm still kind of waiting to be in a conversation cluster at a Social and overhear someone say: "This event sucks. It's boring. It's overhyped. I hate it. And I hate the hipster douchebag who runs it."
I will totally buy that person an extra beer.
The only thing I don't want for ExitEvent is for it to become stale. And lately, what with all the day job and family and sleeping four-to-six hours a night, I haven't been able to expand the horizons the way I've wanted to. --Read On