On Friday, I marked the one-year anniversary of ExitEvent News. For that article, I had dug up some stories we published early in our tenure, but the article was already running long.
So here are some of the early stories I believe defined how ExitEvent News was going to operate — they cover emerging startup environments, early stage success, beer, and broken markets screaming for solutions.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
May 22, 2012: Raleigh, What Are You?
I like this because it was our first shot across the bow at talk without action in the startup world.
“…You can’t have a startup without innovating. That’s like having Star Wars without Han Solo. Yeah, it works, but no matter how many CGIs you throw in there, it’ll wind up being a lot of people talking for a long time. But the corollary, while deceptively full of truthiness, is not always true, and thus not true. Innovation doesn’t necessarily need startups. And that got me thinking — maybe Raleigh doesn’t need startups.”
It was one of the first articles I published and it caught fire quickly in places I didn’t expect. A couple weeks later I was invited to speak at a meeting of Raleigh officials on how they should advance their startup strategy, and that meeting went much better than I expected, and also resulted in this article a few weeks later.
Over this last weekend, I was asked again about Raleigh and the prognosis for its continued startup success. I think Raleigh has made huge strides in the past year. But you have to remember that’s a big step from next-to-zero. 2013 will be an interesting year for Raleigh’s startup community.
June 7, 2012: NC IDEA Announces Spring 2012 Grant Winners
I’m including this kind of standard article in here because NC IDEA contacted us and asked if we wanted to break this story. It’s the sweet spot of ExitEvent, the discovery of new, potentially hugely successful startups, and I was thrilled that the people at NC IDEA saw that in us.
This isn’t about a successful startup landing a $3-5 million round of Series A, although we do get those stories. These are fascinating stories because they’re about a company forming around an idea, and already having some success at making that idea a reality, usually without any backing whatsoever.
These are also the stories I find most inspiring, less “7 Ways to Smile at Yourself in the Mirror Each Morning” and more “6 People Who Turned Their Idea into a Product.”
It implies that you can do the same thing, but doesn’t explicitly say that, because that would be all lies and innuendo.
One of the ideas I’m trying to advance is that of the traditional startup not being confined to tech. Regardless of whether you’re making apps, beer, or cupcakes, I’m interested in the process of getting the business off the ground and onto a high-growth track.
I’m not trying to be abrasive, but I’m not interested in how awesome your cupcakes are, even though I’m sure they are awesome. It’s just not the point. I’m want to know how your company will disrupt the cupcake industry, with your legitimate plans to sell a million cupcakes in 12 months.
That’s why I love Mystery Brewing, who’s continued success we covered very recently with their CNBC reality show win. You can see the path forming with this June 2012 article, when Erik put in his own words how he was going to chase that kind of growth.
July 2, 2012: Calling The Higher Education Bubble
Right before Ed Tech blew up, I wrote this article about how college education was becoming a joke. The vote on the artificial student loan interest rate ceiling is coming up again and just now being politicized again, without any discussion if the huge increases in tuition and plummeting value of degrees.
Startup vs. College? This is a five-to-ten-years down the road argument. But a year later I still don’t see anything leaning the argument back to college.
Funnily enough, I had another conversation about this topic this weekend as well. The guy I was talking with thinks it’s a crazy notion.
Which just reminds me that that’s usually how startups get started.