On Tuesday morning, the six companies in The Startup Factory's fourth graduating class gave their end-of-season pitches.
Wait. Can I call them pitches?
End-of-season "showcases" just doesn't work in that sentence.
As Dave Neal, co-founder of The Startup Factory told the audience on Tuesday, what used to be called “Pitch Day” is now called “The Startup Factory Showcase” due to new SEC regulations.
But they're still pitches, so that's what I'm going to call them, dammit. The startups simply don't mention that they're raising during their pitches anymore; that's saved for a different investor-only time and place.
The event's new name was one of several “firsts” debuted at the accelerator's fourth season finale.
The showcase venue, Fletcher Opera House in Raleigh, was also new, as was holding the event in conjunction with Startup Summit, which began at the Raleigh Convention Center shortly after the showcase ended.
The Fall 2013 class was also the first in which a TSF company raised a round of funding before and during its participation in the accelerator.
Coursefork closed a $375,000 seed round just after beginning the The Startup Factory program in August. --Read On
For over two years, denizens of the darker parts of the Internet have conducted various transactions on an area of the Internet called Silk Road. Silk Road served as an online black market for anything and everything nefarious you could possibly imagine. Think of it as an Ebay for everything illegal. Services and products sold included: Drugs, Hitmen, Weapons, Paraphernalia, Child Pornography and Forgeries - to name the basics.
Silk Road was supposed to be completely anonymous, until the FBI shut down the site and arrested Ross William Ulbricht, the 29-year-old creator of Silk Road.
Ulbricht's story is a lesson and shocking reminder about digital privacy to any of the two-billion-plus users of the Internet worldwide. First off, let's dive into the technology behind Silk Road and the TOR Network. TOR itself is short for “The Onion Network” and is required to access marketplaces and sites like Silk Road. Sites like these are part of the “Deep Web” which are sites that are not indexed or searchable by search engines like Google. TOR provides users a method for accessing areas of the internet in total anonymity through a combination of computer networking and cryptographic techniques.
How it Works
Whenever you type in a website's address, you send small amounts of data called packets through your network to your ISP. Your ISP then relays these packets out to wherever they are attempting to reach on the internet and allows for the exchange of data back and forth. If you want to watch where someone is spending their time on the internet, packets of data are your trail of breadcrumbs that you can monitor using a network tool like Wireshark
Wireshark and similar network tools work by allowing someone to listen to what's being sent over a network by analyzing inbound and outbound traffic. Analyzing packets over ethernet or wifi gives you access to any data being sent or received in a network. Keep in mind that anything sent over an unsecured connection is generally sent plain text. This includes all of your cookies, passwords, and other personal information. Having access to this sort of data can lead to fun pranks or, alternatively, your credit card information. --Read On
Drew Schiller wants to check up on you, see if you're OK, make sure you don't need anything.
That gets a laugh, albeit more of a pity laugh. Which is OK, I've known Drew long enough that I don't need his pity.
"The problem we want to solve is that mobile healthcare -- healthcare outside of a physicians office, is growing rapidly," he says. "Smartphones are pervasive, Fitbits are now for everyone. Physicians are starting to prescribe mobile heath devices. The problem is that there are all of these disparate vendors and nobody can access the data in any uniform way."
As the CTO of Validic, Drew is responsible for bringing your personalized, accurate, structured, and up-to-the-minute personal health data from a multitude of apps and providers into one, easy-to-understand, standardized format to help others help you.
Those others are Validic's customers. Health insurance companies, physican's offices, employers, that sort of thing.
Mobile health is indeed a booming market, a statement underscored by the fact that there are nearly 100,000 apps and devices available to track everything from your workout to your sleep to your blood pressure to your environment (yes, what happens outside of you happens to be important to the inside of you) -- all of which do this outside of the physician's office.
Progress is only beginning to be made to make sense of all this disparate data -- with different collection mechanisms, different measurement criteria, different delivery specs.
This is a discussion between ExitEvent founder Joe Procopio and Coursefork founder Elliott Hauser about The Startup Giveback, a charitable endowment endeavor to be kicked off with a cookout on Saturday, November 16th at ShoeBoxed (112 Broadway St, Durham, NC, 27701) from 1:00 to 4:00. You may know this location as the other half of the building that serves as the location for many ExitEvent Startup Socials. You should register, donate, and come have an awesome time at this family-friendly event.
Joe Procopio I love this. Finally, a startup event to talk about something other than startups. And actually, I'm kind of sheepishly puzzled as to why this hasn't already happened. I wrote in another article that at some point in the arc of the Triangle startup growth story, you have to stop separating the startups from the established players when you're comparing companies. If the startups here want to be taken seriously, they have to be able to go head-to-head with them.
So I see the Startup Giveback as a first (maybe THE first) step in that direction.
Let me explain.
The Startup Giveback idea came up at an event back in September. Elliott brought it up, and it had obviously been on his mind, during a conversation with me and Adam Klein over drinks. The idea is for the Triangle entrepreneurial community to create its own charitable fund, in the form of an endowment that will benefit local charities perpetually. It's a big goal, which is why I like it and why I'm betting other entrepreneurs will like it. --Read On
You don't just put on a Startup Weekend overnight.
Having watched (ExitEvent contributor) Mital Patel do this several times over the last few years while he reanimated the dormant event here in the Triangle, I know there's way more that goes into it than meets the eye.
There are ultimately hundreds of people involved, many of them on board for the full 54 hours straight, and they'll need to be fed, they'll need to rest, and most of all they'll need to make something tangible out of an idea, the lure of a good pitch, and a solid WiFi connection.
For this Startup Weekend, Mital has handed the lead duties over to Avani Parekh, who has been involved with TSW for a while now.
"I got pulled into Startup Weekend when I was living in India last year," Parekh said. "I started by observing the demo day, and then at the next one they had in Delhi, I got pulled onto the organizing team, ended up participating, and won first place."
When I asked Brevado CEO Nick Zafiropoulos what his product looked like coming into their Startup Factory acceleration session just 10 weeks back, his answer was, well, honest.
"We had about 30 alpha users and a buggy product that didn't do much of anything," he laughed.
Chris and Dave, the TSF guys, saw something in that product, as well as the team and the plan, and it turns out they were onto something, because today, a whole eight days before the TSF Fall Showcase, Brevado is launching their Timeline App and beginning the conversion process (from freemium to free trial) for over 700 beta users.
Brevado's product is a no-explanation-necessary timeline tracker for freelancers and small-to-medium sized shops to communicate progress to clients. In the spirit of excellent customer service, avoiding miscommunication, and managing expectations, Brevado's timeline gives real time updates automatically as progress is made on tasks and projects.
I know the value here. The last company I started was a project-based services framework for custom software development. I got so good at Microsoft Project that I hated it more than any individual in the Triangle area. And it was so bad at communicating progress back to the client, that I came up with my own product to do that (one that was buggy and didn't do much of anything). --Read On
Last week, I took some time away from the grind to attend the WRAL TechWire Full Steam Ahead Awards, ironically hosted at the FullSteam Brewery in downtown Durham. It was one of the handful of events I've been able to make over the last few months.
I was also one of the folks TechWire asked to nominate for the awards.
I wasn't nominated this year, which means I didn't nominate myself, which shows I have at least have a shred of integrity left. I also wasn't in any way responsible for selecting any of the winners.
Thus, I have absolutely no qualms about telling you who I thought should have won.
Wait, one small qualm. I don't mean to take anything away from the winners, who I am sure were all deserving. If they could have given away multiple awards to multiple people, then these are the other people I think they should have given awards to.
I'm also not going to list everyone I nominated. If I know you, and you were nominated, just go with the fact that I nominated you. If I know you, and you weren't nominated, they didn't take everyone I nominated, and take heart in the fact that no one nominated me either. If I don't know you, I didn't nominate you. Buy me a beer sometime.
Lastly, I didn't nominate in about half the categories, I just stuck to what I knew. Like, I don't know what makes one CFO better than another. I imagine they're all like Cyril Figgis from Archer. --Read On
Internet Summit is returning to the Triangle in it's sixth year of success. Since its inception by TechMedia founders Scott Hedrick and Eric Gregg, the conference has become a fixture in the South Eastern tech circuit. I spoke with Scott this week to find out what's in store for the attendees of the “Largest Digital Gathering in the Southeast” this year.
Internet Summit will be held November 12th-14th at its usual spot in the Raleigh Convention Center. What started six years ago as a small 600-person event has grown to over 2000 attendees -- in similar fashion to the expansion of the tech community in the Triangle.
Part of the secret to Internet Summit's success has been focusing on diversifying their content and overall conference experience year to year. Last year, Internet Summit debuted a 2-day spinoff focused on various entrepreneur-oriented programming with panels, demos, talks, and networking called Startup Summit.
Startup Summit is back with a vengeance this year, and is not exclusive to entrepreneurs this year. The goal of this change is to “Connect entrepreneurs to potential customers and investors with the intention of showcasing what's going on in the Triangle,” said Hedrick.
When I asked others about which of the startups stood out at The Startup Factory's last Showcase, which I missed, I got different answers from different people. That's no good.
Actually, it's very good. It means that the class was made up of several solid early stage companies.
For these reasons -- a dislike of ambiguous responses and an appreciation for promising startups -- I won't be missing this season's Showcase on Nov. 12 at Fletcher Opera House in Raleigh. For fall 2013, the Showcase is being held in conjunction with Startup Summit; it's going to be a pretty big deal.
So what should you expect? You're going to have to go to find out.
Ok, I'll give you more than that. All of the six graduating companies are members of the ExitEvent network, and I recently got in touch with four of them to hear what they've done during their three months at the most highly capitalized accelerator in the Southeast.
So the story this month was that Mystery Brewing's Erik Myers, along with the vast majority of his staff, was going to be at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver during the October ExitEvent Startup Social, which was Monday the 14th back at Neu Concepts in downtown Durham.
With that scene set, as usual, events were such that I'm able to pull a nugget of entrepreneurial learning from yet another Startup Social.
In this case, I didn't plan for success.
As I've stated before, no matter how much buzz there is around one of these Socials, and no matter how many people RSVP or tweet that they're coming and they're pumped, I always expect no one to show up. And by "expect" I mean "fear."
This is why I didn't get into event planning. It would kill me. Rolling out fresh robot-written content to millions of users is much less nerve-wracking.
So like every Social before it, even though we had over 200 at the previous Social, and even though we had close to 100 RSVP for this one, I knew, I just knew, that five people would show up. And I had relegated myself to that fate.
No problem, I thought, I'll get to know a few people a little bit better, and I'll hang out and pour and shoot the shit like I used to on slow nights when I tended bar in college.
Not only did about 80 people show up, but they all showed up at once. Like, a few trickled in at 5:45 or so, but the doors came off at 6:00. This never happens. --Read On