What happened at Last Night's Startup NC Launch?
Last night's launch of Startup NC filled the house at the RTP Foundation HQ. Over 200 entrepreneurs, investors, and even a fair number of government officials came to learn about and participate in the launch of NC's official Start America Partnership region.
I was excited to see so many new faces—something that validates my hypothesis that there are a lot more entrepreneurs in NC than the ones that come to startup events and pitch contests. There are a lot of smart entrepreneurs in NC that work with their heads down, creating innovative products and interesting companies. I have a feeling we'll see more of them in the future and I'll chalk that up as an early win.
The event itself featured remarks from two accomplished and inspirational leaders of NC's entrepenurial community:
Brooks Bell, of Brooks Bell and the newly formed HUB-Raleigh, challenged founders to build companies that are not just job creators, but quality job creators, as measured by employee happiness.
Ronnie Chatterji, Associate Professor at Duke's Fuqua School of Business and co-founder of his most important startup, his two week old daughter, Anya, gave us an excellent backdrop for the rest of the evening:
What are Startup NC's goals?
Connect and serve as liaison for NC startups to the over $1 Billion in resources committed by private companies to accelerate their growth and help them scale. Assist startups by making it easier for them to find talent, customers, and capital.
Create an organizational foundation that cultivates leaders of the entrepreneurial community and empowers them to build and improve our ecosystem, producing tangible results and assets for the entire ecosystem.
How will it succeed?
Startup NC will succeed as it transforms bystanders into active participants and engaged members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. By being open to anyone's participation if they promise to work to get projects done, leaders will emerge that would have otherwise been content bystanders.
What are some examples of this?
My favorite part of the evening was when we heard from entrepreneurs who pitched their ideas of the projects they'll be leading to improve our ecosystem. Here are just two examples -- both of which display the kind of creativity results when you empower entrepreneurs:
Aaron Averil spoke about his project idea to unlock the 'Intrapreneurship' potential in our local big companies by exposing them to startup entrepreneurs, including the way they think and act. Likewise, local startups would have a lot to gain if they had access and the perspective of the big companies in our backyard. Think pitch competitions at SAS and IBM executives showing up and learning at a Triangle Startup Weekend.
Arik Abel spoke about his project idea to promote cross-cultural collaboration by bridging local entrepreneurs with entrepreneurs from around the globe. He explained that entrepreneurs on the other side of the planet tend to work on solving different problems than we do (ex. rating sanitation of public toilets is a market opportunity in India, whereas the same can't be said in the U.S.). And by working on solving different problems, their approach to entrepreneurship is different and one that our entrepreneurs could benefit from greatly.
So what's next?
We'll collect interest from anyone willing to be active and get work done on project ideas to improve NC's entrepreneurial ecosystem. We'll work to turn that interest into tangible results, starting with the four project ideas presented at the launch event.
We'll continue to accept additional project ideas on our Uservoice platform. We realize that we have to continually be open to new ideas and ways of creating results.
Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you that launching a company, as hard as that is, is relatively easy compared to growing that company. The same is true of organizations like Startup NC. We'll have our work cut out for us, but we'll have lots of help.
Startup NC is serious about turning your interest into tangible results. If you want to take part, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org