Chris Heivly and I hadn’t chatted for more than two minutes since the TSF demo day back in June (which happened to be one of the first articles we ever ran). This is pretty much my fault. So after getting word about the new round of company selections, I gave him a ring and asked him how he was doing.
“I’m excited. It’s day one. It’s like sending your kid to school on the first day.”
The thing he’s most excited about is the diversity of the six companies selected, how different they are from one another and how different they are from the last batch. It’s a solid mix, but it should be noted that over three-fourths of the companies are from NC, the vast majority of those from the Triangle, further emphasizing the explosive growth of the startup community here.
Some quick math tells you that 84 Triangle-based startups applied for TSF’s Fall Session.
I also asked, as it’s kind of my thing, what’s going to be different this time. How is it evolving?
“We’re even further working the Lean Startup methodology that we incorporated in TSF Spring,” he said. “That essentially means a step back for two weeks to consider business model checkpoints. We’re also putting a code freeze into effect for that same time period. We really want to understand what the key assumptions are for each business and to gather data about those prior to the end of the session. These are essential for future fundraising.”
And that makes perfect sense. As I’ve covered over and over again while talking about TSF (and Launchbox before it), Heivly is concerned with the runway, and sees the length of TSF’s runway as the biggest differentiating factor between it and the other accelerators out there. You can’t just kick them out of the nest, you’ve got to help them learn to fly.
So to speak.
I was also pumped to learn that with yet another selection process (Startup Stampede, Groundwork Labs, NC IDEA Grant), a bunch, in this case half, of the companies were already ExitEvent members (in this case before the application process even started).
Made this article a hell of a lot easier to write.
Oh yeah. As usual, each of the six selected companies get space, mentorship, contacts, intros, and of couse, the convertible note that will range from $20-$150K.
Originally from Bethesda, MD, Alekto just made their way through Startup Stampede, and we first wrote about them at their pitch day back in August. The company has a patent-pending for a technology and process that purports to prevent certain credit reporting errors.
I asked co-founder Tiffany Smith about how the time at Stampede prepped Alekto for TSF. She said that it gave her and her partner a critical two months to focus on iterating the business model and the prototype. They also got to know Durham, and its “awesome entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
We also wrote about Offline Media in that very same Startup Stampede article. They’re using technology to get people to get together and do things in real life. During Stampede, they transitioned to their web platform, acquired customers, and collaborated with strategic partners.
They also held a Feedback Friday at Beyu Cafe in downtown Durham, which we told you about back in July. David Shaner, the CEO, says that the depth of that feedback influenced several key product decisions, and the connections they made with the Beyu customers helped them grow their network. They’ll continue these sessions into the foreseeable future.
AIP is EpistemLogic, and it’s a technology management tool and patent search engine that doesn’t rely on Boolean, semantic or contextual algorithms. The only one of its kind.
Liat Belinson, founder of API, tells me that she’s hired a former patent examiner with the USPTO and while at TSF they’ll transition to a web platform, acquire customers, and collaborate with strategic partners
I’ve got a particular interest in Able Device, since they’re working on getting machines to talk more better to machines and my company is working on getting machines to talk more better to humans. In all seriousness, they embed machine-to-machine communications apps on a mobile operator SIM card, rather than an external CPU, which dramatically lowers the barrier to entry for building a wireless architecture into purpose-built machines.
(Yeah, I cribbed a lot of that, but I think I understand it)
PopUp lets you follow content creators (like ExitEvent) and have information from friends and brands you trust (like ExitEvent) about a particular location (like Beyu) delivered to your smartphone automatically.
Tilt is probably swinging the hardest. It offers assessment tools for companies to create innovation.