Two weeks ago I documented the journey of Startup North Carolina that started from a blog post over a year ago. Now, with the official launch and dual-city event (Triangle and Charlotte) a mere three weeks away, the program is closing in on reality.
Except that reality still needs a lot of definition.
I'm not going to lie to you. Many of the folks who first got involved with Startup America wondered exactly what the direction was from the onset. We've all been asked this before, especially those of us in the startup universe: "I want to build something awesome, I'm just going to need you to tell me what it is. Then build it."
It's good that there was so much doubt, because that doubt led to questions, and those questions led to a commitment to making sure that Startup North Carolina isn't an ideafest that everyone wants to be a part of until it comes to actually executing.
Much like early-stage startups, this is where most of them flame out. This is why when we at ExitEvent verify startups, we like to make sure that a startup is a little more than an idea and a lot of energy. That energy needs direction.
That's where the team leading the Startup NC effort comes in - namely Triangle Startup Weekend's Mital Patel in the Triangle and Packard Place's Adam Hill in Charlotte. They're there, along with about a dozen other people you may know within either metro area's startup support ecosystem, to curate.
And I do mean curate.
Beginning today, Startup NC is requesting and collecting your ideas for making North Carolina a more inviting, efficient, and awesome place for entrepreneurs to start and maintain a company. They're doing this collection using (former Triangle-ite Richard White-led) Uservoice.
You don't have to be an entrepreneur to participate, anyone can, as long as the idea is good. And by good, here's what they're watching for:
The Idea Shouldn't Be Too Broad
One trap these idea generation processes (or any brainstorm for that matter) create is that ideas get thrown out that are more mantras or slogans or IDEALS (with an "L").
"Increase access to capital" is an ideal.
"Increase access to capital by creating new angels out of investors who have never invested in early stage tech startups before with outreach and education" is an idea.
The Idea Shouldn't Be Unrealistic
A second trap is throwing out ideas that are unlikely to get done, due to the sheer size or huge hurdles.
And that ties back into the "help me figure out what this is" vibe. Again, much like any startup, reaching out to customers is essential when building a product, but you can't build every single feature because, unless you're made of money, resources will be limited.
This is the same understanding that Startup NC has of Startup America. It's a resource, but it isn't a buffet. They can help you get what you want, but they probably can't just hand it to you.
So pony up your good ideas.
Those ideas will then be curated by the team at Startup NC, selecting those that stand the best chance of getting executed while providing the most bang for the buck.
Those ideas will be announced at the launch event on August 20th. There will be a TED-style overview of each, and teams will be assembled to begin immediately working on the execution. The curation concept is very much like Startup Weekend, and go figure that Mital should be involved.
It's also the critical point of making Startup NC work. Not only does the idea have to be great (not good, great), but the team executing must be solid, committed, and must see it through to completion (with, of course, help from Startup NC along the way).
If that's you, then you need to get to the launch event.
Registration is open for both events as of today via Eventbrite (no NC relation, they chose it because everyone uses it already).
And since I wrote that last piece, people are already starting to get involved. Mital has been inundated with offers for help. Charlotte is working on the website (which should be up this week) and putting finishing touches on the message map. Startup America is working on bringing in a headliner speaker or two for the launch events.
The Triangle's version will be held at RTP Headquarters on Davis Drive, Charlotte's at Packard Place.