For the past 4 years, I have considered myself extraordinarily fortunate to have been involved as an organizer/facilitator of Triangle Startup Weekend and regional champion with Startup America, helping to launch Startup NC.
These are all completely voluntary and unpaid roles, but I've always worked on the premise that the Triangle's involvement in these programs is mandatory -- in the sense that, we'd be missing out, leaving a lot on the table and it'd be just plain silly not to participate, engage and play a role as the leader that we are as a region.
Internationally, Startup Weekend has impacted over 100,000 entrepreneurs in the 4 years since it became a nonprofit. In about two short years, Startup America has launched local regions in 32 states. The two organizations have combined to form UP Global, an umbrella organization that will serve as a platform for entrepreneurial programs spanning the entire spectrum.
Guiding and advising the new UP Global organization is a who's who of entrepreneurship. Up Global's board members and advisors include Steve Case, Steve Blank, Brad Feld, Reid Hoffman, Michael Dell, Magic Johnson, and Tory Burch. Up Global will be supported in part by The Kauffman Foundation, the Case Foundation, Google for Entrepreneurs, Microsoft and The Coca-Cola Company. --Read On
It's easy to get distracted by what seems to be important in the world of entrepreneurship. We find ourselves talking about what we're doing when we should be talking about, and acting on, why we're doing it.
And that's exactly why I was intrigued when I got an email with the subject line "Act with Love" this weekend. What surprised me more was that it came from Buystand's Joe Davy. I knew all about what Buystand does, but I had no real idea why they're doing it.
Joe Davy's a smart guy. I don't think that's news. What you probably don't know is how passionate he is about building a company that focuses on the why rather than the what. But maybe that's actually what makes him so smart in the first place. The Buystand team is about more than naming your own price for lifestyle goods. They're passionate about making fitness gear accessible to everyone.
And they're proving their passion with, Act With Love, a partnership with the Dr. Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. The idea started with the intent to create a campaign honoring mothers for Mother's Day. Joe reached out to Lesa Mitchell with the Kauffman Foundation (and a member of the 8 Rivers Captial board) and she suggested that they look at a potential partnership with the Love Foundation.
After a little bit of research, it was obvious to Joe that his team had to partner with the Love Foundation. To them, this was less about transactions and more about giving back to the women in their lives in a meaningful way. As a part of the campaign, Buystand is donating 50% of the profit from all sales in the collection and 10% of all other sales to the Love Foundation, a pioneer in breast cancer awareness and research. --Read On
This morning, Automated Insights released SiteAi, a product that automatically and seamlessly combs through all of your website analytics data and emails you a daily or weekly report on your traffic -- the volume, the makeup, the sources, the changes, the trends, and any other nugget we can pull out of the muck. We take all of these insights, prioritize them, and send them to you in plain, pretty English.
I'm in charge of Product at Ai, and as such I'm compelled to come up with several new ways to use our platform that our potential customers aren't yet clamoring for. This is not as easy as it sounds, because our potential customers clamor for a lot -- from our sports and fantasy knowledge to our financial products to real estate and personal fitness.
These days, if you can dream it, it most likely has data, and we can mine that data and report on it in any format you want. We can make it read like it was written by Bill Simmons or Bill Shakespeare, and we can crank out personalized articles at the rate of (so far) up to 1,100 articles per second. --Read On
Update: Of course he won. Congratulations to Erik and the whole Mystery team.
I'm not gonna lie to you. As media-savvy as I like to believe I am, it still feels weird watching the promo video (below) and seeing my friend on a reality show. I've known Erik Myers, founder of Hillsborough's Mystery Brewing, for a little over 12 years, since before he moved from Boston to Durham, long before he decided to ditch his job as a network admin and turn what was essentially a hobby into a full-fledged, real-as-hell, building, employees, T-shirts-and-taproom brewery.
When I met him, he was just a really smart and funny kid who could write well and dug all the same kinds of things I did. I hired him to write for Intrepid Media, and a few years later he married his girlfriend and moved to North Carolina so she could get her doctorate at UNC.
One night in 2011, just as Erik was finishing up his paperwork to make Mystery legal, I explained the idea for ExitEvent and the Startup Social over beers at City Beverage, and he went all in. ExitEvent has served phenomenally good Mystery Brewing beer, for free, at each of our 18 Startup Socials. To hundreds of influential entrepreneurs and investors from across the country. Because dude had vision.
I should say this too. Erik was one of the first people I told about ExitEvent. Before he said he'd pour the beer, he told me he thought it was a great idea. Had he said otherwise, I may not have done it.
This Tuesday night, Mystery Brewing is one of the featured contestants on the CNBC reality show Crowd Rules, which each week features three small businesses that compete for a $50,000 prize. --Read On
Adding to an impressive win list, Archive Social was selected to the 2013 TiE50 on Saturday, a Valley organization that touts itself as recognizing the world's most enterprising technology startups. Previous winners include HubSpot, oDesk, and Cloudera, among others.
I'm without laptop but let me throw down the story here on my iPad. I'm still at the conference.
It all started when I received a flyer in the mail (yes, snail mail) inviting Archive Social to apply for the TiE50 about two months ago. I was somewhat familiar with TiE, but had to check out the website to see if the competition was legit. --Read On
For a lot of people, marketing is their bread and butter. For others, it's still a giant mystery. Seeing new and exciting products come out of the Triangle startup ecosystem is always a big deal, especially in a field like marketing where so many do not know where to go.
When it comes to website marketing, BoostSuite is essentially what the Adobe Marketing Cloud wishes it was. I sat down with Aaron Houghton Co-Founder and CEO of BoostSuite to get an update on their latest feature and the status of BoostSuite.
At its core, the BoostSuite platform is an optimization system that analyzes marketing data and generates wins by allowing small business users to perform simple tasks that take one minute or less to complete.
In Aaron's words: "At BoostSuite we will have fulfilled our vision when every small business marketer in the world can make a meaningful improvement in their web marketing results on their own, in just five minutes when they are… waiting at a bus stop, sitting on a couch, or working out at a gym."
BoostSuite constantly monitors web market data -- who is coming in, where they came from, what they are doing, and how they navigate through your site. The platform collects all of this data from various sources and finds opportunities and patterns in the data using their proprietary rule engine/pattern recognition system. --Read On
But know this. Every time he calls me, I answer: "What did you get kicked out of now?"
That joke will never, ever get old.
It was even longer ago, July of 2011 to be exact, when Miller threw the impressive dejaFest to launch the original dejaMi app. Not a task taken lightly, it turned into a full-on 2-day music festival, taking up several venues in downtown Raleigh.
Not long after he relocated to the HUB, he and I were both at Startup Summit, where I was moderating a panel and he was pitching WedPics, the company he spun out of dejaMi and into the early but suddenly very frothy social-wedding-sharing space.
Watching his presentation, I knew at that point that WedPics was going to be successful, because Miller was going to beat everyone at the game. WedPics was going to be designed better, work better, and if he had to throw a WedFest to get it onto the public's radar, that was going to happen. --Read On
People constantly ask me how I manage to fit a full-time life at a VC-backed startup pioneering the new science of extracting personalized human-sounding narrative from big data, a 1000+ strong network of entrepreneurs and investors complete with daily content and monthly events, and -- oh yeah -- a family of five, which includes twin girls and full-on little league schedule for the boy, who is a left-handed switch hitter.
I have a list of stock brush-off answers:
The 25th Hour.
The startup or the network or the family are a complete fabrication.
The truth is, I've learned how to maximize my time.
This isn't about brushing my teeth while helping a daughter with her homework while texting with Robbie while writing this article. I mean, I did that, but when I say time management, I'm talking about using time in the most efficient manner possible.
It's not multi-tasking, it's brain-shifting.
For example, I write most of my columns and articles in about 15 minutes. I sit down in front of my laptop and I pretend I'm writing an email just to you. Yes you. I'm stalking you. I'm lucky that this is the style that has found me. I could give a shit about making my stuff sound like all the other stuff. --Read On
Elliott Hauser is the founder of Coursefork, a group of university and online educators building open teaching tools. Coursefork were winners of Triangle Startup Weekend - EDU in March 2013 at HUB Raleigh.
Coursefork is in the midst of pitching to angel investors and we've learned a ton, so I thought I'd take the time write a post that can hopefully save you time and/or effort. There was a distinct shift for us a few months ago when investors started taking meetings instead of giving us the “keep me updated.” Here's how we got there:
Keeping track of who you're talking with is a big pain in the butt. What's worked for us has been a shared Trello board where we move funding prospects from columns titled Cold to Warm to Hot to Invested as they get there. That way each team member can add and update prospects and we can see who's contacted who in the comments.
In the beginning it's easy to lump everyone in the entrepreneurial scene together. Really, though, the people you need and want meetings with evolve over time, and your targets should evolve as well. In the beginning you might want casual meetings with other entrepreneurs.
As you get a sense of who might be interested in helping you, get meetings with them. Angels and VCs should be secondary or tertiary targets. Wait to try for meetings with them until you're getting consistent interest and positive feedback or you'll blow your first impressions. --Read On
If you're an entrepreneur or an investor, I gently implore you to go here and RSVP for Monday's ExitEvent Startup Social. And please show up, drink the free, locally-brewed craft beer, talk to your peers, and play or watch people play ping-pong for the glory of your or their startup.
That's really all you have to do. And it's all free. And it could be the last time.
Not really. But you never know. We are taking June off, there's just too much going on next month in startup-land. So this will be the last one for a little while. And that got me thinking: When is this going to end?
1) The Mission is Accomplished.
The mission is to help create a stronger environment (not ecosystem, not community) for startups. I want to do that by giving you news, opinion, viewpoint, resources, and connections in a real-world and digital environment that you can't find anywhere else.
(Motivation? No. If you don't have motivation, you probably shouldn't be an entrepreneur until you find the idea that motivates you.)