Still, we thought it was important to look back at the track record of this important contributor to our startup community—one that drew in a third of its companies from outside the state, a third women and a third minority founders. So we did our best to get the scoop behind the companies that accelerated here. In some cases, we relied on Internet research. In others, we got information from The Startup Factory. And we also reached out to some local founders we know. If you have more information on any of these companies, feel free to email us!
There are some pretty cool stories in the notes below (organized by TSF class), and you can bet we'll be diving in deeper to tell them in the weeks and months to come. For now, enjoy this quick recap of 35 new businesses launched (and sometimes sold or killed) over the last several years in North Carolina (and beyond).
4Soils, Fall 2013
Founded by Lusi Chien, 4Soils
is an app development company that specializes in biblically-based games and apps for children. The startup created and launched 30 iOS apps that have been downloaded 1.1 million times and translated in Chinese, Spanish and other languages. After selling the company, Chien joined Tenex Health as VP of marketing and strategy, and now is EIR of commercialization at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA.
Arcametrics, Spring 2012
This data science startup was acquired by Adroit,
a division of MediaMath, in 2014 for an undisclosed sum. Founded by Brad Davis
and John Turner
and also funded with an NC IDEA grant in 2012, its software used predictive analytics to create new audiences based on a retailer’s best customers. Davis is vice president of MediaMath Helix and Turner, vice president of engineering—both are still based in Raleigh, where the company has kept an office. Former CEO Paolo DiVincenzo
is now the COO at Windsor Circle.
Venture-backed and growing
Mira, Fall 2014
analytics platform tailors content in shopping malls, retail stores or taxicabs for an anonymous mobile audience, connecting marketers to larger customer bases. Co-founder Jon Frangakis,
partners in the business with his brother Gabe, represented Durham’s Google tech hub American Underground at Google Demo Day this year. Mira didn’t win
, but the experience was valuable for the team. While the technology is ready, according to The Startup Factory, they're focused on establishing key partnerships before raising additional funding. To date, they've snagged about $1.5 million.
Orate, Fall 2014
Co-founded by Veronica Eklund
and Sara Capra
, this DC-based startup is a marketplace for event organizers to find speakers for their events. The pair graduated from TSF with $400,000 in hand. Orate
has steadily grown its platform and over the summer launched a partnership with the American Marketing Association (AMA) to power and house a ‘Speaker’s Bureau’ for the association. It will allow AMA members to locate experts and speakers for their events through Orate’s platform.
Antenna, Fall 2014
designs customizable feedback forms intended to build brand loyalty for content creators and websites—you can see an example by clicking the reaction button on our site. Founder Porter Bayne
, who has a background in the online publishing industry, briefly moved to Portland but is now living in Asheville. His business partner is based in New York City, and helps to maintain relationships with publishers there. The men raised a nearly $600,000 round led by Idea Fund Partners earlier this year, and are advised by media execs like Alexis Ohanian,
founder of Reddit.
Hostel Rocket (now Hostelite), Spring 2014
original founders left the company in early 2015 after launching their product and raising $725,000 led by Great Oaks Venture Capital. The Startup Factory helped replace the founding team with Clara Eckert-Framm
and her husband Aaron Mickelson
, who spend about half their time in Germany and half in Durham. They rebranded as Hostelite
in April, and launched a new social app that connects people to others staying in a hostel. Earlier this year, they won Kayak’s Pitch Challenge
in Europe, and are just finishing a month working with the travel company’s team in Germany.
CareLuLu, Spring 2014
This 500 Startups-backed TSF alum simplifies the child care search process for parents with a visually-appealing database of fully-licensed daycares and preschools. Since graduating from TSF, the San Francisco-based team raised a $1.7 million seed round in October 2014, grew their team to nine employees and have expanded nationwide. Co-founders Patrick Matos
and Evgeniya (Jen) Usmanova
, who are husband and wife, continue to lead CareLuLu
as CEO and COO respectively.
RocketBolt, Fall 2013
Co-founded by Matt Hofstadt
and Aaron Dinin
, the RocketBolt
team raised $750,000 in April 2015, funds that helped complete development of their software for sales people. With offices in San Francisco and Durham, the company’s core product helps sales representatives track and collect information about the people visiting their websites, and suggests ways to communicate and engage with each lead. The product launched publicly in May and RocketBolt is adding about 3,000 new users a month, according to Dinin.
Trinket, Fall 2013
is a unique mix of EdTech—providing both a classroom tool for educators and a small embeddable widget that consumers can use to practice Python coding skills around the web. The startup was born at a Triangle Startup Weekend, won an NC IDEA grant
and eventually participated in the prestigious ImagineK12 accelerator in Silicon Valley. CTO Brian Marks
is still working full-time on the startup while Elliott Hauser
is CEO, but also finishing up a teaching fellowship at UNC Chapel Hill, where he’s using Trinket to teach his Python courses. The company raised about $375,000 both during and after TSF.
Vacation Futures (now rented.com), Spring 2013
Co-founded by Andrew McConnell
and Mickey Kropf
, the team is based in Atlanta and now goes by rented.com
. The platform offers a marketplace matching homeowners seeking to rent their second (or third) homes with renters. It’s specifically for homeowners who don’t want the headache of working with property managers to handle rentals, checkins and cleaning. Rented raised more than $300,000 shortly after graduating from TSF from Jan Cieslikiewicz Ventures
, and then raised two undisclosed rounds in 2014 and 2015. The site now now serves people in 42 states and 60 countries.
BringMeThat, Spring 2013
is an online restaurant ordering and delivery service that operates in New York City. Founders Jason Chiang
and Michael LaMarca
raised about $400,000 in 2014 after completing TSF, though LaMarca lists Scholastic as his primary job. According to TSF, BringMeThat has managed to continue on despite a rollup of other order and delivery sites, and the team is optimistic for the future.
Offline Media, Fall 2012
The event and “things to do” curating startup raised $700K this year
, the fourth, but largest, funding round secured since graduating TSF in Fall 2012. Founded by David Shaner
and based at HQ Raleigh, Offline
is expanding (and hiring) and now covers four markets: Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte and Nashville, with more to come.
ArchiveSocial, Spring 2012
Since graduating and raising a bit of early stage capital, this social media archiving startup has grown steadily to serve more than 600 customers, many of which are cities and other government entities. Led by founder Anil Chawla
, the startup just graduated from American Underground and set up shop in new offices close by. Archive Social participated in the national Code for America accelerator and won the Rise of the Rest pitch competition in 2015 and subsequently a $100,000 check from AOL cofounder Steve Case. The startup also raised $1 million in cash and in-kind support
in August 2015 from e.Republic Ventures, a California media company focused on the public sector.
Bootstrapped post-TSF (so far)
AgileRealm, Spring 2015
is a living documentation system for software teams. Co-founders Daniel Berlin
and Alex Hung
, have been doing a heavy customer development and will continue to validate assumptions, all with a low burn rate, says TSF.
AnyCloud, Spring 2015
A graduate of both TSF and Groundwork Labs and funded with an NC IDEA grant
is a content, photos and document aggregating and organizing platform. Though the site and app are still functioning, the company hasn’t posted to its Twitter account since February and hasn’t been in touch with TSF in as many months. Founder Brian Jenkins
still lists AnyCloud as his workplace, so it’s possible the startup is laying low but still alive. He did not respond to an email request for information.
Im Next, Fall 2014
The founder of this Oklahoma startup was unique in that he worked as a contractor, but like most of the TSF founders, he was trying to solve a problem in his own industry. He wanted an easier and less expensive (than traditional online advertising) way to find work, and for customers to easily get their home problems fixed. Co-founders Kyle Askew and John Burdin are back in Oklahoma testing their product and with a low burn rate, according to TSF.
Knomad, Spring 2014
Knomad was one of the first podcast search apps, launched before podcasts had achieved the popularity they have today. Co-founder Alex Carter was able to make a name for himself in the podcasting world, and took a job late last year with Product Hunt managing a brand new podcast channel on the fast-growing site. At the time, he said Knomad would continue on as a side project. The website is down, but you can still download the app.
Curagami, Spring 2014
This startup was only a conception when it joined TSF, but has since evolved into a digital marketing consulting practice and content repository for serial entrepreneur and marketer Marty Smith. Curagami was envisioned as a place to curate crowdfunding content around the web.
Szl.it, Fall 2013
Founder Richard Boyd
has been hard at work on a product that lets users train artificially intelligent bots to find information or things on the web you want to read. Szl
is almost ready for a fundraise and launch, says TSF.
Able Device, Fall 2012
This Raleigh-based team, mostly Sony Ericsson alums, have become leaders in the Internet of Things movement. Founder Roger Dewey
left the company for a period of time to found another company, but has been back leading Able Device
since late 2014. Able Device’s patented technology is used to power all sorts of IoT solutions, from from wearable devices to point-of-sale terminals. According to TSF, the company in on a trajectory to be included in millions of devices in the future and has major telecommunications companies as customers.
Alekto, Fall 2012
Alekto’s beginnings date back to the Bull City Startup Stampede, a Durham Chamber-led program that helped spur the startup renaissance in Durham. Through a patented online credit escrow platform, Alekto helps consumers optimize their credit scores and manage transactions. Until recently, the company was inactive on social media sites since 2012. But on July 6, it announced a new COO in Darren Lyons. He joins founder Walter Pinson and chief revenue officer James Thomas.
AI Patents, Fall 2012
This startup built a searchable database for patents and other relevant filings, one of the first of its kind. AI Patents
is still in business and run by founder Liat Oren.
Ruzuku, Spring 2012
is a quiet success story for The Startup Factory. With about a dozen employees in Carrboro, the online education platform founded by Rick Cecil
and Abe Crystal
has helped educators and instructors design and administer more than 20,000 courses. The company hasn’t raised money since the accelerator, but according to TSF, has done an excellent job using revenue to grow.
BoomboxFM, Spring 2015
This Raleigh startup matched little-known bands and musicians with music lovers through a weekly discovery email. It shut down after about a year, with founder Michael Hoy moving on to a sales role at Pendo.
ELXR Health, Spring 2015
The startup that promised to make the process of transferring sensitive patient information between doctors easy closed its doors sometime in 2015. One co-founder now works as a Network Technician at General Dynamics Information Technology in Fort Bragg, NC, while there’s no information available on the other.
SnapYeti, Fall 2014
Founder Justin Beard
had some early success lining up about 250 publishers and ecommerce sites as customers of his photo contest platform, but ultimately couldn’t raise the funds he needed to keep SnapYeti going. He famously took a trip to Silicon Valley in 2015 in hopes of connecting with investors, chronicling the experience on ExitEvent
. When he took a job at Raleigh startup Exit Intel
last fall, he’d planned to keep SnapYeti up as a side project but the site is no longer operating. He’s since moved on to a COO role at Hip eCommerce
, a startup in Raleigh selling comic books and stamps.
HomeWellness, Fall 2013
HomeWellness built software to help employers assist employees in eco-friendly home improvements like air quality, energy efficiency, solar panels, etc. The company went radio silent on Twitter in April 2014, but according to LinkedIn the company shut down earlier this year. One founder is running the music and video studio Blue Clay Studios in Saxapahaw, NC, another is working in construction in New York City, while the third is a sustainability consultant in Chile.
Brevado, Fall 2013
Brevado built a tool for creating interactive project timelines for freelancers, consultants, and small businesses, but shut down sometime in 2014. Founder Mike Perna is now a web developer at Active Web Group in New York City.
Tuee, Spring 2013
was in the process of shutting down when Raleigh startup Stealz
acquired its technology. The move makes sense. Tuee was a guest relationship portal for restaurants and Stealz rewards patrons for frequenting their favorite businesses. The pair of companies shared an common mission—to increase customer retention for small restaurants and businesses. One co-founder, Kunal Arora
, is now in DC working at Capitol One and the other, Vikram Rao
, is a financial analyst for Google X in Silicon Valley.
TabSprint, Spring 2013
A mobile application company, focused on streamlining payment processes at restaurants and bars, TabSprint’s founders worked on the product through 2015. Co-founder John Chipouras now works at MapQuest in Denver and his partner Grant Warman is a software engineer for Google in New York. Chipouras’s LinkedIn profile claims TabSprint is still available, but when we looked for it in the Apple store, it did not turn up.
Taggs, Spring 2013
Taggs specialized in assisting advertisers and marketers navigate and benefit from the “visual web.” Perhaps it was ahead of its time. Co-founder Mark Kelley describes the closure on his LinkedIn profile in the following way, “raised early VC money, generated some revenue, but wound it down when our market hypothesis didn’t validate. A great ride.” He since joined the founding team of iCiDigital in Raleigh, overseeing client services.
PopUp, Fall 2012
Co-founded by Motricity and Appia alum Dov Cohn
, PopUp raised $300,000 to build a location-based social communication tool. After 18 months of work on the product, Cohn shut it down and now serves as senior vice president of product at the fast-growing telemedicine startup TouchCare
Science Behind Sweat, Spring 2012
A product of RxAnalytics, this startup’s big data platform was designed to “find the critical behavioral drivers of athletic performance in individuals.” But social media accounts have been inactive since August 2014 and the website is down. According to LinkedIn, co-founder Deepak Gopalakrishna relocated to Silicon Valley and is a product lead at Boston Consulting Group. Dan Samarov, who never quit his day job as a Mathematical Statistician for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is still based in DC and consults on the side.
Entasso, Spring 2012
This platform that matched recent college grads with entry level positions was short lived. It died shortly after its founders participated in TSF’s first cohort. Co-founder Alison Dorsey
caught LinkedIn’s eye, and she now serves as senior manager for city and state programs in the Bay Area. And Paul Hiatt
, Dorsey’s co-founder, is building his second startup, Lockstep Labs
, from Bangkok, Thailand.
Berst, Spring 2012
Berst also died soon after the spring 2012 TSF cohort. A location-based app, it was a way to share photos, thoughts and moments with others close by. We found no information about the company or the founder(s).
Amy Huffman contributed to this piece.
Correction: Mira has raised $1.5 million, putting it in the funded category. We previously included this company in the bootstrapped section.