8.25.14 LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman

Iron Yard Coders Impress at Demo Day

Employers are blown away by startup ideas, coding skills of first Durham code school grads.

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Wade Minter snapped photos of designs on the big screen at the Iron Yard Academy powered by Smashing Boxes' first Demo Day and graduation in Durham Friday night. He sent them along to the head designer at Boulder-based startup TeamSnap, where he serves as chief technology officer.

The response back? "Hire them all."

Twelve weeks might sound like a snippet of time to become proficient at a skill as seemingly difficult as computer programming, but a group of 20 developers completed the inaugural program in Durham with laundry lists of languages and technologies learned and implemented while developing 10 projects, most of which are commercially-viable. Some may even become the Triangle's next generation of startup businesses.

But that isn't the goal of the Iron Yard. The ultimate goal is to find software development jobs for as many of the students as want them, filling a dire need within startups and other businesses throughout the Triangle. Responses like Minter's (he leads an office in the Triangle) are welcomed as the Iron Yard kicks off round two of Ruby on Rails and Front End Development classes this fall, and expands in 2015 to include a class on Python. --Read On


8.25.14 BLAKE CALLENS@blakecallens

Software Talent Isn't That Hard To Find

But your interviewing technique might keep you from finding it.

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Blake Callens is CEO and co-founder of PencilBlue, and co-founder of the Raleigh Entrepreneurial Acceleration Lab. He's a regular contributor to ExitEvent.

Every software engineer has experienced a job interview in which he or she was forced to act more like a dictionary than a human being. There's a prevalent misconception that, in order to properly develop software, one must know all the minute details of any programming language listed in the job requirements. It's a remnant of the days when developers received their knowledge from physical manuals.

It's common for today's experienced developers to disqualify a company the second they're treated this way, and a ton of companies lose out on great prospects when creativity is taken out of the interview process.

I once sat on the phone with someone for the better part of an hour as they proceeded to ask me what different variables and functions in JavaScript and jQuery were named and what they did. Not one question had to do with my actual experience working with web technologies to meet business goals, even though this was for a leadership position at a multinational corporation.

I've many times had to listen to non-technical human resource managers stumble through “pre-qualifying” questions handed to them by a technical lead. It's obvious the interviewers could have been speaking in Star Trek technobabble, for all they knew. --Read On


8.22.14 LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman

Two (Possible) Changes for NC's Crowdfunding Bill in 2015

Crowdfunding may be dead in 2014, but plans are taking shape for next year's bill.

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Organizers bummed out over a North Carolina legislature vote against crowdfunding already have an eye on changes they can make to the existing bill to increase its chances of passage in 2015.

And crowdfunding's champion, Rep. Tom Murry, has already pledged his support for moving the bill forward during next year's long session.

The changes are coming from lessons learned from other states and countries, says Mark Easley, a local angel investor and co-organizer of the lobbying group (He hasn't yet committed to leading the effort next year.)

First, it might make sense to raise the investment limit from the proposed $2,000 (same as the federal limit) to $5,000 or $10,000 (like seven states have done). Businesses may hesitate to use equity crowdfunding as a fundraising tool because they don't want hundreds of investors with such small stakes in their companies. --Read On


8.22.14 JOE PROCOPIO@jproco

Forget Business Networking, Build Personal Relationships

A Recap of the August ExitEvent Startup Social

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I've seen a rash of thought-expert pieces lately on the art of networking. Some of them are quite smart, like this piece on double-opt-in email introductions that I begrudgingly loved, or this one on getting to the point from Startup Factory's Chris Heivly.

Others are straight garbage. Not naming names.

I say "begrudgingly loved" about the former because I'm not a huge fan of people telling other people how to behave, especially when it comes to etiquette in the entrepreneurial pursuits. We're a breed of "it's better to ask forgiveness than permission" -- yet we still get all huffed when someone wants to get on our calendars without having jumped through the proper hoops.

Yeah, I know there's etiquette to this game, and I know there's a fine line between aggressive and douchebag. I'm also aware of the fact that being on the receiving end of everyone's meeting request is a hassle. I get about two dozen cold business emails a day and another handful of cold networking type emails on top of that. Whatever. First world problems.

One of the reasons I started ExitEvent was to give all entrepreneurs, from beginner to serial, a chance to network amongst themselves unshackled from topic, cause, or sponsor, either online or in person via the Startup Social.

But the Social, the monthly agenda-free, entrepreneur-and-investor-only, free-beer-fueled event, was never about networking. In that I mean it was never about collecting business cards and writing awkward follow-up emails the next day.

It was and still is about relationships. --Read On


8.21.14 RYAN TIMMS

WATCH: Six Cryptocurrency Startups in the Triangle

Local startups pitched their bitcoin and cryptocurrency businesses at the Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo

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The Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo in downtown Raleigh last weekend proved to us there's an industry forming around bitcoin and cryptocurrency. And even locally in North Carolina. These six local startup companies have either launched or will soon launch new cryptocurrency-related businesses around data, storage, e-commerce, alternative energy and hardware.

Check out their pitches in the video below and stay tuned for more coverage of the bitcoin industry forming in the Triangle.



Cryptolina: Local Company Pitches from ExitEvent on Vimeo.

For full coverage of the Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo, read our recap here. --Read On


8.21.14 LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman

Q&A: Durham Entrepreneurs on Building Their Startup in War-Torn Ukraine

Groundwork Labs graduates prepare to return to the U.S. and launch their startup after six months in the war-torn nation.

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Durham husband-and-wife entrepreneurs William and Galyna Tate left the Triangle in March to spend six months in their second home of Ukraine. They've stayed busy building their personal finance startup My Money Landscape there, despite the war raging in the nation. And in fact, Ukraine has become a key strategy for the young company.

As the couple prepares to head back to the Triangle in September, William Tate recently shared with ExitEvent some reflections on his time in Ukraine, and updated us on the startup idea he dreamt up after years in financial planning at Morgan Stanley.

Here are excerpts from our Q&A:

EE: You aren't located where most of the conflict is occurring, so what is it like where you live and where you work?

WT: Galyna and I live in the same small city where she grew up, Alexandria, Ukraine. We bought a small, but comfortable, two-room apartment on the 8th floor of a very common Soviet-style, nine-story building.

Galyna's parents still live and work in Alexandria. Our city is less than 200 miles west of the Russian terrorists' activity in the Donbas Region. There is a military helicopter training base in our city. We often hear and see these choppers conducting their training just before they go off to battle the Russian Beast from the East. Sadly, several brave young men from our region have died protecting Ukraine from these ruthless Russian invaders.

But we live and work far enough away from the war that, except for the Ukrainian military soldiers and volunteers area funerals sometimes, life and work go on pretty much as usual. Our software development team, M.I.F. Projects, is in Kirovohrad, Ukraine. Kirovohrad is about 60 miles west of our Alexandria home. I am usually in Kirovohrad during the week working directly with our team there. --Read On


8.20.14 LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman

WATCH: The Ice Bucket Challenge, Triangle Startups Edition

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I really didn't want to have to do this, but then you all started participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and well, it's hard to stop watching the videos. Over and over and over again.

But we're seeing some ice water-dumping creativity coming from Triangle startups, and why not laugh at all our friends getting soaked. So here's a roundup of #IceBucketChallenge videos out of our community.

If you're a startup or founder (ahem, Chris Heivly of the Startup Factory (Done! See second video. Can't miss the Batman boxers), Scot Wingo of ChannelAdvisor, Jason Caplain of Bull City Venture Partners (Done! See third video) and all the American Underground companies challenged by Michael Goodmon) and you choose to participate, send us your video and we'll throw it up.

Enjoy!


 --Read On


8.20.14 • JOHN AUSTIN@johndeeaustin

The Triangle's Free Accelerator: The Back Story

The 34-year history that led to NC IDEA, Groundwork Labs

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Groundwork Labs has generated some news lately with its new stipend for out-of-town startups and partnership with the international entrepreneurship organization UP Global. It's also recruiting a new class of five startups—the deadline is September 5.

Its director, John Austin, recently sat down with the ExitEvent team to share the history of his program and explain its link to the NC IDEA grant program and the venture capital firm Idea Fund Partners. The story was pretty cool, and worthy of publication for those who haven't heard it. Thanks to Austin for writing it up in the paragraphs below.


Since Groundwork Labs doesn't charge a fee or take an equity stake in the companies that participate in our program I often get asked “How does Groundwork Labs afford to do what you do?” The short answer is we are funded by NC IDEA, a private, not-for-profit whose mission is to help North Carolina startup technology companies. Because “NC” is in the name, many folks assume NC IDEA is a state-funded entity, but that is incorrect.

Then I get asked, “How can NC IDEA afford to do this?”, and then, “How does NC IDEA fund their grant program?”

The short answer is you can think of it as an endowment—and there's some fascinating history of how it came to be.

I thought our startup community would be interested in that history and enlisted the help of John Cambier from Idea Fund Partners to help with the story—he was personally involved in MCNC for more than a decade.
 --Read On


8.20.14 LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman

Imagine K12 Accelerator Welcomes Durham Startup to Silicon Valley

Mission 100 Percent joins next class of edtech startups at prestigious Valley accelerator.

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Teach for America showed Janice Smith the need for teachers to learn from each other. Groundwork Labs helped the first-time entrepreneur develop a product to help that learning happen, and test the concept with teachers and administrators.

And her next move—participation in high-profile Silicon Valley accelerator Imagine K12—will offer introductions to venture capitalists and education technology experts who Smith believes can help get her startup Mission 100 Percent into schools around the nation.

"We're obviously not staying there—we are really passionate about being a Durham-based company," she says. "But we recognize that Silicon Valley is where a lot of money, resources and companies are. Being out there for three months will be an opportunity to network the crap out of San Francisco.”

Smith is the second Triangle edtech startup founder this year to join a national accelerator—Raleigh-based Karl Rectanus of Lea(R)n is in New York this summer at TechStars' Kaplan EdTech Accelerator. --Read On


8.19.14 LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman

Crowdfunding is Dead...At Least for Now

Crowdfunding fails in North Carolina. What it means for the entrepreneurial ecosystem

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If you haven't heard, the North Carolina Senate voted down a series of measures that included intrastate crowdfunding, putting to rest a two-year battle to change laws to allow unaccredited investors in the state to fund North Carolina businesses.

Today's news—along with an announcement that fast-growing, national headline-grabbing real estate crowd lending startup GROUNDFLOOR will move to the more progressive Georgia—are blows to our region's entrepreneurial community.

Two barometers of thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems are the ability to fund and grow businesses from startup to profitable companies and governmental support for that process. Though the Triangle continues to show proof of the former—many companies have raised funds and grown their businesses here—the failure of crowdfunding shows a lack of support from those helping to shape the economic future of the state.

Though GROUNDFLOOR's news isn't tied to the legislation (CEO Brian Dally confirmed this for me in a call today), the exemption that allowed intrastate crowdfunding in Georgia is what attracted the startup to launch there earlier this year. Relationships built with investors and developers in the months since made it the obvious choice for a headquarters, Dally says. --Read On


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