Back in February, I was up in DC for Southeast Venture Conference talking about ExitEvent with Jonathon Perelli from the Fort, and the thing I remember is when he said, “Don’t turn it into an accelerator. It’s hard and they don’t make any money.”
We had a good laugh.
But he’s right. Bringing an accelerator to life is a difficult proposition, even with investors, space, and the backing of a strong entrepreneurial community. Doing the same without said investors and in a city with a fledgling-at-best entrepreneurial community? Damn near impossible.
But like I always say, you have to start somewhere. So RevTech Labs will take the reins when they graduate five companies on Wednesday, October 3rd at a demo event that will double as a startup showcase, with so far 18 startups demoing.
Adam Hill is the administrator of Charlotte’s startup hub Packard Place, where RevTech makes its home. He and I chatted a few months back when RevTech was announced, caught up a bit while he worked on Startup NC’s Charlotte launch, and then touched base again yesterday to talk about the demo event.
RevTech will be bringing in Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx for the kickoff, then the five accelerated companies will pitch.
Autopilot, who allows you to book a professional driver on demand when you can’t drive, have already raised $150K, completed development of their app, and are way ahead of budget. I met co-founder Ben Lee when he drove (himself) to Raleigh from Charlotte to get to Southern Capitol Ventures eSeries by 7:00 a.m. That’s ethic.
Dataset/IO, who provides data solutions for the capital markets, are very close to securing their first customer – and since their market is large, deep-pocketed customers, this will allow them to bootstrap.
Flavma, who provides technology to independent pharmacies, has 30-40 customers and is branching into additional offerings.
The Torch, an online and mobile app for emergency medical planning, has been in development and will roll out their full offering in January.
Viddlz, a platform that’s described as the etsy for food, is validating being able to replicate outside of local.
The latter half of the evening will be networking with tables set up for the other startups to demo. That’s followed by a private reception, sponsored by Durham’s Triangle Startup Factory, that’s just for the startups and the investors.
And that’s the key point. There will be about two dozen investors in the room. If you can get investors in the room, the dollars and the vibe and the rest of it don’t really matter. You’ve pretty much accomplished the goal.
Which is easy to say at arm’s length.
If you went back to read my original RevTech article, you may note that two of the companies won’t be demoing. That’s OK, and I believe it’s part of the story. In both cases, the company founders decided not to pursue. They got to failure quickly and moved on to something else.
That’s a healthy lesson for en emerging startup community.
And that’s one of the lessons Hill will roll into the next iteration of RevTech — validate the viability of the business, then validate it again. RevTech will evolve in other ways too, and they’ll have more information on that at the demo event.
The event, by the way, is invitation only, and you can get information on obtaining an invite at the RevTech Labs site.