A little over a year ago, the day of the very first official non-beta ExitEvent Startup Social, I got word that the White House Jobs and Competitive Council would be in the Triangle (the same day as the President, I might add) doing five listening sessions with local entrepreneurs and other business executives.
I tried like mad, to no avail, to get them, the President, or anyone else to the Social in Durham that night, where over 50 of the area’s top entrepreneurs would be saying the exact things those people wanted to be listening to.
Scott Case was one of those proposed listeners, so Startup America was one of the places I contacted. They actually tried to get Case there, which was great, but the timing didn’t work.
However, they were intrigued with ExitEvent, and from the resulting conversations they asked me for a blog post about it. I gave them one, at the end of which Scott Case commented:
“Joe – Ready to lead Startup North Carolina?”
My first thought: “You bet your ass, I am!”
My second thought: “What the hell is Startup North Carolina?”
Not too long after that, I had a nice 45-minute phone call with Case in which he explained to me the concept of Startup America Regions, and hammered home the fact that Startup North Carolina would be what we, the startup community in North Carolina, made of it.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same thing. Another “awesome idea factory” that fizzles out in a few months because no one is running the show.
So I pulled back.
As time went on, ExitEvent exploded and Startup America made more regions and we forgot about each other. Then in March of this year, a Startup Region for NC was proposed and another conference call happened.
I missed that one, but got reinvolved a few weeks later, laid some groundwork on what I thought it should be about (attracting investment), offered to throw some resources at it (connections to players via the ExitEvent network) and, since time wouldn’t allow me to run with it, I brought a few Triangle Startup people into the fray with me.
One of them was Triangle Startup Weekend‘s Mital Patel. I never expected he would take the lead on this thing, but dammit if he hasn’t. And furthermore, he’s very aware of the potential for this to become a great big startup lovefest with no results. He’ll be putting forth the necessary time and effort to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Mital is basing the model for Startup NC on the already-in-motion Startup DC. In fact, Mital has had several conversations with Startup DC director Evan Burfield, who was also on this week’s conference call.
Conicidentally enough, the approach will be much like Ignite or even Startup Weekend, which Mital has plenty of practice with already.
He’s working to get Uservoice‘s auto-vote system in place for submission and upvote of initiatives that Startup NC can work on. This will happen within a week or so.
Then, on August 20th, there will be launch events, held simultaneously in Durham and Charlotte. Mital is working with Adam Hill of Packard Place, where the Queen City version will be held. Adam has also been involved with building Startup NC over the last few months.
At the launch event, there will be presentations of the highest-ranking ideas. But much like your everyday startup, it’s not so much the ideas that matter but the caliber and effort of the team assembled around them (that’s you) and the successful execution thereof.
There will be plenty of networking, and Startup America has agreed to bring in one or more dignitaries.
The launch, and everything that follows, will be a bottom-up effort. There will be no board of directors or leadership committee, and participation will be based on amount of effort offered.
Beyond that, just like Case told me a year ago, Startup North Carolina will be what the startup community makes it. With Mital and Adam providing oversight as it gets off the ground, it appears to have a pretty good chance of turning into something.