8.29.14 RYAN TIMMS

WATCH: CrowdTunes, ArchiveSocial, ShiftZen Demo at American Underground

AU@Main's weekly HelpFest features three Durham startups.

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

ExitEvent and American Underground are partnering to bring those outside the Durham startup campus a peek inside. Each Wednesday at lunch, American Underground @Main hosts an event called HelpFest, in which members of the community (and sometimes guests) share some element of their business, strategy or passion, and take questions from the audience.

August 13th, three fast-growing AU startups gave demonstrations of their products. First up, starting at 1:21 in the video, is ShiftZen, maker of online restaurant scheduling software. Second, at 10:45, ArchiveSocial, a social media archiving tool for governments. Digital jukebox software provider CrowdTunes, 27:20, ends the video.

The video kicks off with announcements and introductions by American Underground Chief Strategist Adam Klein.

 --Read On


A New Home for Student Entrepreneurship

NCSU hosts ribbon cutting for new Innovation Hall.

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

Starting a company out of a dorm room may seem a little outdated these days, but what about starting one in an entire residence hall? For students at NC State University, this could be a reality.

On September 2, the Entrepreneurship Initiative will host the grand opening of Innovation Hall, a new residence hall, which is part of Wolf Ridge on Centennial Campus. It is the new home of the EI offices, the Andy and Jane Albright Entrepreneurs Living and Learning Village and my personal favorite workspace, the EI Garage.

The vision for Innovation Hall is to be the headquarters for student entrepreneurship on NC State's campus, says Megan Greer, EI's director of communications and outreach.

SLIDESHOW: The Garage at N.C. State University from ExitEvent
 --Read On

8.28.14 BILL BING@BillNBing

Trying to Follow Laws that Don't Exist

The predicament of Bitcoin startups in an unregulated world.

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

I'm already on the record with a position that, broadly speaking, lawmakers and regulators don't know what they're doing. But that doesn't keep them from making rules that businesses have to contend with.

Two weeks ago, I attended Cryptolina, a Bitcoin-focused conference that drew speakers and attendees from around the nation including former Director of the U.S. Mint Edmund Moy, and fourth generation venture capitalist Adam Draper. Figuring out how to deal with regulation was a recurring theme at the conference, and several different tactics were discussed.

At one panel, a lawyer focused on Bitcoin-related matters advised entrepreneurs who are unable to receive guidance from lawmakers to attempt to self-regulate by implementing reasonable and fair policies that might eventually become law. He noted that demonstrable adherence to these policies and clear intent to cause no one any harm would likely be looked upon favorably and perhaps produce the desired outcome: a No Action letter.

To be clear, this is some Zen hand-waving, particularly coming from a securities lawyer: --Read On

8.28.14 • MATTHEW DAVIS@matthewhdavis

Roger This: 10 Social Media Lessons from the Chapel Hill Police

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

The entrance to my neighborhood sits atop one of the many large hills in Chapel Hill.

As you crest the hill, there's a good chance you'll see a squad car perched at the intersection. It points out to Highway 54, with the radar gun leveled across the window sill. And if you follow @ChapelHillPD on Twitter, you already know to slow down.

That's right, the Chapel Hill Police Department frequently, but not always, tweets out when and where it'll be enforcing the speed limit.

To figure out why the CHPD might do something so awesome yet so unconventional, I sat down with Sgt. Bryan Walker, who manages its social media presence. As I planned for the interview, I realized that this was the first interview with a police officer where I've been asking the questions. How the times have changed.

Within minutes of our conversation, Sgt. Walker starts dropping lesson after lesson on marketing. All of us tech-savvy, startup prima donna, self-proclaimed "gurus" were getting schooled.

Here's what we can learn from the Chapel Hill Police Department about social media and marketing:
 --Read On

8.27.14 RYAN TIMMS

WATCH: Six Before & After Pitches at Health Startup Weekend

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

We checked out the inaugural Triangle Startup Weekend—Health August 8-10 at American Underground @Main in Durham, and captured on film Friday night's compelling ideas and Sunday afternoon's final pitches. See how far 100+ aspiring entrepreneurs came in just 48 hours of building these six new businesses.

And for more details of the event, here's our written recap.

 --Read On

8.27.14 • SCOT WINGO@scotwingo

Ask Scot Wingo: Evaluating Your Big Idea

Part two of a three-part series on how to turn ideas into companies.

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

Scot Wingo is co-founder and CEO of ChannelAdvisor, a public company in Morrisville, N.C. that helps e-commerce retailers optimize sales across channels. Wingo and team took the company public in May 2013.

This is a regular series, and you can read the kick-off post here for background. Ask him a question by commenting or emailing news@exitevent.com.

Part Two—Evaluating your idea.

This is part two of a three-part series that seeks to answer the question—“How do you come up with an idea for a software startup company?”—asked by Aaron, a local web developer.

In Part One, I introduced the “startup idea” pattern. The key highlights from that pattern were:
• Business-oriented ideas are more numerous and easier to execute on than consumer ideas.
• The best ‘seeds' for ideas for business-oriented solutions are add-ons, industry-oriented and solving a problem you have personally experienced (necessity is the mother of invention).

In Part Two, we'll look at the next step—once you think you have an idea or several candidates, how do you evaluate those ideas? --Read On

8.26.14 • JAY BIGELOW@JayBigelow

On The Go with Jay Bigelow: The Vision Document

CED's entrepreneurship director shares his weekly adventures and insights on Triangle startups

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

Jay Bigelow's column is part of a regular series. Why Jay? Because he's charged with meeting and learning the needs of entrepreneurs all over this region and connecting them with the resources and people to help achieve their goals.

Last week marked the 10-year anniversary of Google's IPO.

Several news organization did great retrospective pieces including a piece by the Wall Street Journal‘s Dennis Berman called ”Ten Years after the IPO: The $400 billion Epistle” and Business Insider's, “7 weird things about Googles IPO 10 years ago”. There were several interesting twists to the IPO, but the cover letter to the prospectus, an 80,000-word personal declaration by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, is perhaps the most important.

You can read the entire thing here. It was inspired by Warren Buffett's “An Owner's Manual”. This is truly an extraordinary document from the founders to the investors. --Read On

8.26.14 LAURA BAVERMAN@laurabaverman

What to Expect from the 2014 Raleigh Innovation Summit

TechStars Chicago founder to headline annual Triangle event.

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

In 2012, an Innovate Raleigh event prompted the region's goal to make the top five nationally for entrepreneurship and innovation.

2013 was an update on that first year-and-a-half of progress—HQ Raleigh (formerly HUB Raleigh) had opened. American Underground expanded in Durham and announced plans for Raleigh. The city hired its first innovation and entrepreneurship manager in Derrick Minor. CED created Triangulate to map all of the region's startups and resources to assist them. United started a nonstop flight to San Francisco, making it easier for investors to visit companies here.

This year's Raleigh Innovation Summit, coming September 10 during Entrepreneurship Week, will celebrate successes since then. It will also explore the link between the health of cities and the vibrancy of entrepreneurial communities. --Read On

8.26.14 BILL BING@BillNBing

A Call to N.C. Startup Communities: Stop Leading with Weakness

It's time for leaders to foster authenticity and collaboration.

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

When I worked at Square 1 Ventures, a big part of my job was hearing the pitches of VC fund managers who wanted us to invest in their funds. We ultimately made nine investments, but met with over 100 funds. And whenever we'd meet with a manager based in a market outside California, Boston or New York, there was a high likelihood of seeing a slide called “Underserved Geography” or something similar.

This slide, or series of slides, would go on to make the case that New Mexico, Kansas, or yes, even our own state of North Carolina was a huge opportunity and that the fund managers had access to the best deal flow in the area. The more creative folks would put together some graph manipulating cherry-picked data points to demonstrate that Tennessee was in fact the ideal site for VC investment.

This tactic always cost presenters credibility points with me. If they wanted our money they should have told me how they were going to produce great returns DESPITE their geographic challenge—not sell me that this was actually a positive. If these areas actually were as attractive for investors as they claimed, other funds would be putting money to work there. Smart investors don't ignore areas out of spite. If enough high-growth companies sprout up somewhere, they take notice.

Here's an analogy—if you were at a job interview for a position that required more years of experience than you have, you wouldn't go in and say, “My lack of experience is actually a benefit, because I haven't developed all sorts of bad habits that I have to unlearn.” At least I hope not. Instead you would probably try to make the case that despite your lack of desired experience, you are a really strong candidate because of your other abilities and focus the discussion there. --Read On

8.25.14 RYAN TIMMS

WATCH: Inside the Iron Yard Academy

Three firsthand accounts of learning to code at Durham's code school

Filed Under: NEWS: Startups

"Amazed" is a common word the graduates of Durham's first code school use to describe their feelings after 12 weeks of intense computer science education.

Last Friday, they graduated from The Iron Yard Academy powered by Smashing Boxes. ExitEvent covered the event, and detailed their projects and job prospects in a story published earlier today. But we also filmed the students and instructors earlier in the week to create the video you'll see below.

We'll follow up with the students again soon so we can see how the Iron Yard prepared them for the jobs they've been promised. In the meantime, enjoy these three passionate accounts of time spent this summer at the Iron Yard:

The Iron Yard Academy powered by Smashing Boxes: Class One Recap from ExitEvent on Vimeo. --Read On