ExitEvent recently launched a series tracking the weekly activities of Council for Entrepreneurial Development Director of Entrepreneurship Jay Bigelow. Why Jay? Because he’s charged with meeting and learning the needs of entrepreneurs all over this region and connecting them with the resources and people to help achieve their goals.

Here’s Jay’s latest Friday post detailing the connections he’s making and help he’s providing throughout the Triangle startup community. To get on Jay’s calendar, email [email protected]

Last Thursday, I saw more than eight pitches. Some great, some good, some not-so-good. One global observation I have from seeing many first-time tech entrepreneurs pitch is a real lack of understanding about the competitive landscape. While I’m sure each entrepreneur truly believes he or she has invented the greatest piece of technology ever, that doesn’t mean prospective customer can’t find alternatives to stop/ease the pain.

Please understand, that from an investor’s standpoint, saying you have no competitors means one of two things: a) There is no market for your solution or b) You have no knowledge of the market (Not sure which is worse?). Please spend some time understanding how customers solve the problem today or how your disruptive solution would fit into an existing competitive landscape. The ‘petal diagram’ is a great way to think about it. For more, read this insightful post by Stanford professor and startup guru Steve Blank.

On Monday April 14, I spent most of the day playing in the annual charity golf tournament for The Healing Place of Wake County. Great people doing really important work that change people’s lives. If you want to see what a difference this place makes, get involved and in particular, try and attend a chip ceremony�. one of the most moving experiences I have ever witnessed.

Tuesday AM—Office hours at HQ Raleigh. Met an entrepreneur with a new crowdsourcing platform as well as experienced marketing experts adept at launching innovative therapies for the life science community. This area is fortunate to have several great congregating places like HQ Raleigh.

On Wednesday April 16, I met with a representative of Duke Ventures, a student-run organization helping to educate MBA students on the process of evaluating deals. I get the part about helping the students learn, but not too sure this is very helpful for local entrepreneurs?

At mid-day, I attended the
Triangle Technology Executives Council
monthly meeting. The organization is starting a new series which invites entrepreneurs to ‘pitch’ the membership. If you want to learn how an IT professional thinks about new technology, this could be a great opportunity for your business.

Finally, in the afternoon, I had office hours in [email protected] Main in Durham. There, I spoke with one of the CED-Ventor Mentoring Service entrepreneurs who decided to quit the program. Multiple studies have shown the impact and power of good mentoring, but it’s got to be a two-way street and is not a quick-fix solution. That is, both parties have to be willing to put the time and energy into building a trusting and open relationship. It’s not easy and won’t work for everyone.

I spent much of Thursday April 17 training some new mentors for CED-VMS. I also developed the content for the upcoming MIT-VMS annual user group meeting, a two-day workshop with entrepreneurial support organizations (like CED) from around the world. One of the highlights of this trip is the in-depth tour of the MIT Media Lab.

If you want to understand why MIT (and perhaps Boston in general) has such a long and distinguished track record of launching truly disruptive innovations, you need to understand how and why the MIT Media Lab works. As the powers-that-be consider a new and improved vision of RTP, they would be well-served to more fully understand the dynamics (structural and cultural) of the MIT Media Lab. We need to challenge RTP not to replicate what others have done, but to see beyond that to what is unique to this region and create something entirely new.

Back to the road.