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.
I got in touch with Derek Andersen, who started this in Palo Alto, and had a few conversations with him about his vision and how to run the events and get high profile speakers. I saw that leveraging that network and brand to attract not only local speakers but also others from outside of the Triangle, would add value to the event.
I have since recruited Whitney Rowe from the Startup Factory and Matt Crook from UNC to help me run the events. But I'm looking for more help as well. We'll need help with marketing, videography, and a few other things.
We hold the inaugural event on December 10th, withPoornima Vijayashanker as our first speaker. Poornima dropped out of Stanford graduate CS program to become one of the founding engineers at Mint.com. After spending time at Intuit, the company that acquired Mint.com, she started Bizeebee to provide business management services to small businesses in the health and wellness space.
In addition to building and scaling her company, Poornima has somehow managed to be super active in the startup community -- giving talks, mentoring entrepreneurs, and most recently as an instructor at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke, where she teaches a practical entrepreneurship course.
As an active mentor to students, she has been blogging at her siteFemgineer, which has been around for five years.
In January, we'll have Stephen Malik, the founder and CEO of Medfusion, which he sold to Intuit. He went on to run Intuit Health for 3 years.
I think that people can learn a lot from other experiences and the mistakes that they made and the successes that they had while building a successful company. I'll be asking Poornima about her journey into mint.com, the experiences of building the company, and then moving on to work at a large organization and about the critical things that she learned that has helped her make bizeebee successful.
You can register for the kick-off event here. And we're actively seeking local and global sponsors who share our core values of educating, inspiring, and connecting.