I'm not spilling secrets when I tell you that Heivly, the director, conductor, and engineer of Durham's Triangle Startup Factory accelerator (along with partner Dave Neal), has more years on him than I do. That being said, I don't think I have the stamina to do what he does. For example, between our conversation on Friday, which took place as the previous class was moving out, and today as you read this piece announcing the new class -- that's his vacation.
OK, I'm being a little facetious, but TSF is a sprint and marathon combined, in series, every six months.
"The secret is to just not think about it," he says. "If I stopped to think about it, I'd probably just fall over."
The main difference in this class is all in where they came from. The percentage of applications from the Triangle, while still the bulk, is down even as the overall application numbers grow. This shows a healthy broadening of reach outside of the home field.
Applications from North Carolina outside the Triangle were up. So were applications from the US outside of NC. Applications from outside of the US doubled in percentage of the overall.
Watch that international, by the way. It's a really good sign that people are willing to travel long distances and totally uproot to be a part of the Triangle startup scene. It's good for the area. Also good for competition. As the volume of applications goes up, so does the quality, meaning the top six are going to be even further along this time.
"There's probably a little more validation behind the one's we've selected," says Heivly. "There was a really deep bench, so the top ones are further along."
For instance, Vikram Rao has already taken Tuee, which provides restaurant owners and managers with real-time, actionable feedback, through Tech Challenge Hanover in Richmond and has an AngelHack DC win.
"We've been working on Tuee full-time for about 5 months now," Rao says. "We're now up and running in 8 restaurants in the greater DC area and are looking to expand rapidly. We have 2 goals at TSF—to continue to improve our product and to tap into the vibrant Durham restaurant scene."
TabSprint, an app that streamlines the payment process at bars, clubs, and restaurants, won the Duke Startup Challenge Pitch Day and was also accepted into the Duke Summer Innovation Program. They launched an MVP six months ago and have been collecting data ever since.
"This is a tremendous opportunity and boost for TabSprint," says CEO John Chipouras. "Getting plugged into such a valuable network of experienced entrepreneurs is exciting and will put TabSprint on a new trajectory. "
VacationFutures, from Atlanta, is a wholesale rental marketplace. Founded in April 2012, they won a spot to present at Startup Riot 2012, which led to more connections with investors and potential customers.
"This is a tremendous boost for our company," says co-founder Mickey Kropf. "It was the catalyst for me to join VacationFutures on a full-time basis, which will help accelerate the development of our business."
Durham-based Taggs, who collects image and earned media data from social media images, is bootstrapped, but the team has been working part-time for several months. That team includes co-founder Shannon Bauman, formerly of Google and Durham startup SpringMetrics, along with co-founder Mark Kelley.
"Our team has developed a good deal of technology," says Kelley. "And we've engaged digital media managers of a number of consumer brands to understand how to this technology should be brought to market as a product."
Ohio-based BringMeThat, which lets users find and order restaurant delivery online, is also bootstrapped. However, after a beta launch in Cuyahoga County in January 2013, they quickly, I mean very quickly, expanded to all of Ohio, and are now in 300 cities and over 1500 restaurants in the state.
Co-founder Jason Liang is looking to continue that explosive growth. "During our time at TSF we hope to expand to more states, refine our product, and improve our marketing," he says.
Noddix provides performance and privacy driven modern web and mobile apps, and plays their cards a little bit close to the vest, as you might expect. One of their co-founders is coming in from Australia for the semester (remember what I said about international competition).
What's The Same
Beyond some basic tweaks to the program, Heivly says, not much is changing this time around. They will be adding an even greater emphasis on Lean Startup, something they got into with the last class.
"I don't have to explain what Lean Startup is anymore," says Heivly. "Some teams have already adopted it. It allows us to do more with it."
One thing that will change is pitch day. I can tell you it will be larger than previous versions, and will tie in with Paradoxos, the somewhat secretive June event and matching twitter account.