Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ Category
Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
If Robert Half’s Technology and IT hiring forecast bears out, Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta should see significant hiring during the third quarter of 2013.
The just-released Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report for Raleigh, N.C., shows that fourteen percent of Raleigh-area chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed recently plan to expand their teams.
This is up 4 points from the previous quarter’s projections. Another 54 percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles, 27 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 5 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.
The Charlotte report shows that 11 percent of Charlotte-area chief information officers (CIOs) surveyed recently plan to expand their teams in the coming quarter. This is up 1 point from the previous quarter’s projections. Another 51 percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles, 31 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 6 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.
Ten percent of Atlanta-area technology executives surveyed recently expect to expand their IT teams in the third quarter of 2013, a figure unchanged from the previous quarter.
In addition, 55 percent plan to hire to fill open IT roles in the upcoming quarter, 29 percent plan to put hiring plans on hold, and 6 percent expect to reduce their IT staff in the third quarter.
These regional figures are consistent with CIO plans in other areas, with most of those planning IT hiring in the 10 to 13 percent range. Nationally, the average is 12 percent.
Here are some other area figures:
- 13 percent of Boston CIOs expect to hire in the quarter.
- 13 percent of New York CIOS say the same
- 13 percent in Denver say they will hire
- 10 percent of the CIOS in Seattle and Los Angeles plan hiring
- Salt Lake City is exceptional, where 17 percent of CIOS plan IT hiring
In terms of recruiting, 69 percent of CIOs said it’s somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals today. It is most difficult to find skilled talent in the functional areas of networking (18 percent), data/database management (14 percent) and help desk/technical support (13 percent).
Confidence in Business Growth and IT Investments
The survey results suggest that CIOs are optimistic about their companies’ growth and IT investments: Eighty-five percent reported being somewhat or very confident in their companies’ prospects for growth in the third quarter of 2013.
Sixty-three percent of CIOs also said they were somewhat or very confident that their firms would invest in IT projects in the third quarter of 2013.
Skills in Demand
Among the technology executives surveyed, 55 percent said that network administration and database management were the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT department. Desktop support followed closely, with 54 percent of the response.
The IT Hiring Forecast and Local Trend Report survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm.
Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Justin Miller says there is more to the recent $1.1 million funding round for his Raleigh-based startup WedPics than money. “It’s a win for the area,” says Miller, who founded the company originally known as “Deja Mii” near the end of 2010.
The company, which created a free photo sharing app for wedding couples and guests, is not in the Research Triangle area’s sweet spot, Miller says.
“While North Carolina is a rather abundant place for startups,” Miller says, “they’re often overshadowed by the presence of Fortune 100 companies and the typical startup pre-funding here is for revenue producing B2Bs. The traditional investors in this region run from anything else such as social media and pre-revenue B2C.”
Miller and his 12-person crew refocused WedPics, changing more than the name. Originally started with an early revenue model, the firm dropped that to focus on user acquisition for a free service that is data and analytics backed.
Because of that, the company presented potential investors with data-backed forecasts. It convinced them – although it took nine months, Miller notes.
Lands oversubscribed round
In mid-April, it closed an oversubscribed $1.1 million round comprised of a diverse group of strategic local and nationwide investors. The round was ded by the Brenden Family Growth Fund and including Bob Young (Red Hat Co-founder, Lulu.com Founder); Jed Carlson (Reverbnation Co-founder); Henry Copeland (BlogAds CEO); Chandler Rose (ProVantage Corporate Solutions Founder); Alex Osadzinski (former Trinity VC); Culin Tate (Co-Founder ofMissNowMrs.com); and TAP (Triangle Angel Partners).
Miller explains, “From our initial launch as deja mi – the location based photo/video sharing platform which was often pitched as a theoretical idea of what it might be able to do – pivoted to a data and analytically backed platform, which has disrupted the traditional wedding space in a big way. We currently have over 130,000 users and acquire 1400+ daily, with over 1200 weddings per weekend, and sharing over 100,000 photos each week (1 every 6 seconds).”
While many other photo apps died off, WedPics “Applied its technology to a niche market and capitalized on it,” Miller says.
He expects the company will be back on the fund-raising trail again soon and eventually should be a “cool acquisition play for a larger company,” he says.
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
For the ninth year in a row, CEOs rate Texas as the #1 state in which to do business, according to Chief Executive magazine’s annual Best & Worst States Survey, released today. Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana also made the top five.
The results may alleviate some fears in North Carolina, where other such evaluations have not placed the state as high as in previous years.
The states rated worst for business are California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
It’s interesting that states with powerhouse venture capital sources and nation-leading business sectors such as California, Massachusetts, and New York top the list of worst states for business in these polls time after time. Makes you wonder just what these business-friendly state rankings really mean.
|Best 5 States for Business
|Worst 5 States for Business
The Best & Worst States Survey measures the sentiments of CEOs on a range of issues, including regulations, tax policies, workforce quality, educational resources, quality of living and infrastructure. For the 2013 survey, 736 CEOs from across the country evaluated the states between Jan. 16 and Feb. 14, 2013.
Ohio was the biggest gainer in this year’s survey, rising 13 spots from #35 to #22. “Ohio is doing some amazing things to attract and support a pro-business environment,” said Don Taylor , CEO of Fairlawn, Ohio-based Welty Building Company. The biggest loser was Delaware, which dropped 13 spots to #27.
California hostile to business?
CEOs say California’s poor ranking is the result of a perceived hostility to business, high state taxes and onerous regulations, all of which drive investment, companies and jobs to other states. According to the California Manufacturers & Technology Association,California accounts for 12.6% of total U.S. GDP, but only has a 2.2% share of investments in new and expanding manufacturing sites.
“When you investigate acquiring businesses in some of the states rated poorly for business conditions, the anecdotes all wind up being true,” said Kevin Hawkesworth , President & CEO of Florida-based Shaw Development. “The horror stories about these states are real.”
“California, Illinois and New York are simply awful states to operate facilities or employ people,” according to another CEO. “We will do almost anything possible to minimize our exposure to these anti-business environments.”
Piles of regulations a problem
“Thank you, California!” responded one Texas-based CEO facetiously. “Keep applying pressure on your job creators and we will keep welcoming their moves to Texas.”
A common theme among CEOs is the burden of constantly changing regulations. “Business is too hard without dealing with piles of regulations that are constantly changing,” said Rick Waechter , CEO of Boston Magazine. “I believe there have to be controls, but keep them simple and straightforward—and most importantly, don’t make it a moving target.”
“CEOs continue to tell us that California seems to be doing everything possible to drive business from the state. Texas Governor Rick Perry , by contrast, personally makes it his mission to lead corporate recruitment and economic development efforts in his state,” saidJ.P. Donlon , Editor-in-Chief of Chief Executive magazine and ChiefExecutive.net.
Playbook for success
“The playbook for successful states boils down to three simple moves: engage in real dialogue with business leaders, adapt policies to create an attractive environment, and effectively communicate your story to real job creators,” said Marshall Cooper , CEO of Chief Executive magazine and ChiefExecutive.net. “This year’s rankings prove that smart policies result in increased investments, jobs and greater overall economic activity.”
|2013 Biggest Gainers
|2013 Biggest Losers
For complete results, including individual state rankings on multiple criteria, CEO comments, methodology and more, please visitChiefExecutive.net.
Thursday, April 4th, 2013
How do Enterprises make decisions about where to locate their data centers and what drives their growing need for them?
Facebook’s air-cooled data center in Forest City, NC.
A new study of the data center industry commissioned by Compass Datacenters has identified a number of emerging factors that are shaping the data center strategies of enterprise companies in the United States.
The study also projects a strong wave of new data center construction in 2013 and 2014. The research was conducted by the respected research firm Campos Research, which surveyed senior decision makers who steer the data center strategies at 150 U.S. companies with annual revenues of $250 million or more.
Key findings from the study include the following:
- 87% of companies will build a data center in next 12-24 months. This represents an acceleration of the trend, with 63% reporting that they completed data center projects in the last 12 months.
- 71% of companies ranked new applications as the primary reason for needing expanded data center infrastructure—making it the most often-cited driver for data center expansions in 2013 and 2014.
- Three-quarters of companies reported that they plan to support a combination of new applications, virtualization, Big Data, and Private Cloud with their new data centers—showing a variety of needs behind the expansions.
- 97% of companies are seeking to locate their new data centers less than 30 miles from their headquarters or major operations center—making geographic proximity a chief consideration in upcoming data center projects.
Here at the TechJournal, we’ve noted that data center construction barely stalled even during the deepest part of the recession. In North Carolina, where we are headquartered, both Google and Facebook have built data centers and regional data center firms such as Peak 10 have steadily expanded their footprint.
The Compass data center in Raleigh, NC. The company is also constructing a data center in Durham, NC. Other regional data center firms such as Peak 10, have also expanded their footprint substantially in the last few years.
Chris Crosby , CEO of Compass Datacenters, said, ”Our team has worked with Campos for several years, and they have an uncanny ability to identify emerging trends before they reach critical mass and transform the data center industry.
“Their past research was prescient in identifying energy efficiency, wholesale data centers and modular design as important emerging issues well before they gathered steam and were broadly acknowledged as major trends. This new study identifies geographic proximity as a key consideration for the projects that companies are currently planning, and that has the potential to change the landscape of the data center industry, both figuratively and literally.”
He added, “In the past, companies based outside of major data center markets had to sacrifice proximity when it came to the location of their data centers. They had little choice but to put their data center in one of the handful of markets, often placing those IT assets far from the companies’ HQ or major operations center.
“Not only did that increase costs and risk, but it also was inherently inefficient from a long-term operations perspective. This new study makes it clear that enterprises don’t want to make that compromise any more, and that has huge ramifications for data center providers.”
Following are additional findings from the study:
- Companies who are planning to build in the next 12 months are planning to add an average of 2 facilities. That average increases to 3.5 when the timeframe is expanded to 24 months.
- The companies who participated in the study currently have an average of 3 data centers. 25% reported that they currently have 5 or more data centers.
- 96% of companies reported that the size of their data centers will be 20,000 square feet or less.
- CIOs were identified as the primary executive who determines need for data center expansion. CIOs were cited by 37% of companies as the person who approves the project, with 24% reporting that the final decision is made by the CEO. 44% of companies described CIOs as having the most influence on the purchasing decision with 19% saying that the CEO now has the greatest influence.
- The most common process for beginning a project is to set the requirements and then look for providers as a second step in the process (71% of respondents).
- The most important factors cited in the selection process for a provider is Service Level. Green strategy was the lowest-ranked selection factor.
- 75% of companies will evaluate 3 providers as part of their selection process.
- Only 44% of companies said that they would consider building the data center themselves, indicating that “do-it-yourself” is declining.
For more findings from this study and analysis from Compass Datacenters, visit http://www.compassdatacenters.com/compass-university/.
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
So, how does your firm handle March Madness at work? OfficeTeam recently asked more than 1,000 managers whether NCAA basketball tournament festivities in the office, such as watching game highlights or engaging in friendly competitions, affect morale and productivity.
One in five (20 percent) of those surveyed felt activities tied to the college basketball playoffs improve employee morale at least somewhat, compared to only 4 percent of respondents who viewed them negatively. The majority (75 percent) said March Madness events have no impact on morale or productivity.
Based in the Research Triangle, where teams from Duke, North Carolina University at Chapel Hill, NC State, and other regional schools compete at the highest levels year-after-year, we’ve seen how intense intereste is in the NCAA tournament.
But the Office Team survey shows that smart managers can use this to help office workers bond and significantly boost morale.
The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.
Managers were asked, “Do you feel March Madness (NCAA basketball tournament) activities in the workplace, such as watching games or participating in pools that don’t involve money, have a positive or negative impact on employee morale?” Their responses:
|Don’t know/no answer
Managers also were asked, “Do you feel March Madness activities in the workplace have a positive or negative impact on employee productivity?” Their responses:
Executives who were asked the same questions in a 2010 survey were more divided, with 41 percent viewing college basketball playoff celebrations as a morale booster, and 22 percent saying these activities adversely affect employee output.
“It’s often better for managers to acknowledge the appeal of events like March Madness and provide opportunities for their staff to enjoy the festivities rather than ignore them,” said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking .
“Employees need a chance to bond with coworkers over shared interests. Group activities — whether based on the NCAA basketball tournament or other events — provide a channel for team building.”
OfficeTeam offers five tips to help companies celebrate March Madness while keeping employees’ heads in the game:
- Grant time-outs. Allowing employees to take quick breaks to check scores or chat with coworkers about the tournament can help them recharge. An informal lunch or dinner at a restaurant to watch a big game also can build camaraderie.
- Foster friendly competition. Let staff wear their favorite teams’ apparel or decorate their workspaces, within reason, to get in the spirit. Consider organizing an office competition where individuals can win bragging rights or small items such as company-awarded gift certificates without the exchange of money.
- Go over the rules. Clearly communicate policies regarding employee breaks and Internet use so professionals know what’s acceptable when it comes to March Madness and other non-work activities.
- Take the lead. Set a good example by showing how to participate in tournament festivities without getting sidelined from responsibilities. If you complete assignments before talking hoops, employees will likely follow suit.
- Evaluate your bench. If team members want to take time off to watch the playoffs, ask them to submit requests as far in advance as possible. This will help you manage workloads and determine if interim assistance is needed to keep projects on track.
Monday, March 4th, 2013
By Allan Maurer
David Jones, President & CEO, Peak 10.
Even though Peak 10, the Charlotte-based data center and managed services provider now has 350 employees, CEO David Jones says the company still tries to foster an entrepreneurial spirit.
“We don’t make all our decisions centrally,” says Jones.
Jones co-founded Peak 10 in March of 2000 and has led the company to a top market position as a leading independent data center, managed services, and cloud computing solutions provider in the United States, with facilities in Charlotte, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, Tampa, South Florida, Raleigh, and Richmond.
Participating in the Southeast Venture Conference
Jones, who speaks often to entrepreneurial groups and is a past chair and still a director of the North Carolina Technology Association, is one of dozens of thought-leaders, venture capitalists, angel investors and entrepreneurs participating in the Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14.
“I think it’s going to be a great event for Charlotte,” Jones says. “It has an informative agenda, not the same old stuff you usually see at conferences. It’s going to bring a lot of faces into Charlotte who don’t normally spend time here.”
The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.
Specifically, that includes speakers and panelists from national and regional venture capital firms and 50 innovative presenting companies from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Last we heard, there were only a handful of seats left for the event, so it’s a good idea to reserve yours now if you plan on attending.
Part of the Peak 10 entrepreneurial culture derives from its growing an average of about 25 percent a year and regularly opening new facilities to meet demand in the areas it serves.
Four pieces of advice for entrepreneurs
We asked Jones what advice he thinks is most important to starting a company.
First, he says, “Stay focused. We’ve all heard stories of companies that try to do too many things at once and don’t do any of them well.”
But even more important, he says, “Hire the best people you can. Don’t be complacent about that.” In the end, “That will make you successful or not.”
Get the right financial leadership
Next, he says, “Make sure you have the right financial leadership. A lot of startups fly by the seat of their pants. You need to know your operating costs. I’ve always tried to find the best financial officer I could. If nothing else, have a financial advisor who can help you strategize where you are and the things you’ll need.”
Doing that can prevent you from “Hitting a brick wall when you find you didn’t plan for what you need on the development side.”
Finally, he adds, “Make sure you have a plan that can get funded. Great ideas go nowhere unless you have a plan to get there. Keep it simple. The more complex you make it, the harder it will be to get to where you want to be.”
In general, Jones says, “We’re in challenging times, but there are still a lot of opportunities out there.”
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Washington, DC made this years list of the top ten cities for private tech M&A at number 7.
PrivCo has released rankings of the Top U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A, based on the number of private tech companies acquired in 2012.
PrivCo has provided its Exclusive Top 10 Ranking below, with Silicon Valley ranking as the #1 metro area with 226 private tech company acquisitions in 2012.
Ranked just behind it were New York (Ranked #2) & Boston (Ranked #3).
San Diego, Research Triangle miss top ten
Interestingly, up-and-coming tech hubs like New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are challenging traditional leaders like Raleigh-Durham’s “research triangle” and biotech hub San Diego, who missed this year’s Top 10 U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A.
Top 10 U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A in 2012
(Ranked By Total Number of U.S. Private Tech Companies Acquired in Each Metro Area)
1. Silicon Valley
2. New York
4. Los Angeles
7. Washington, D.C. (Arlington)
To access PrivCo’s 350 page 2012 Private Tech M&A Industry Report:
Wednesday, February 20th, 2013
Even in the IT field, you have to dress for success – especially when applying for a job. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) want to hire IT professionals who are “well suited” for the job — both literally and figuratively.
According to a new Robert Half Technology survey, nearly half (46 percent) of CIOs said a business suit is the most appropriate attire for someone interviewing for an IT position.
Thirty-four percent of respondents favored khakis and a collared shirt.
Geography can influence interview attire expectations, the survey revealed: Respondents in Philadelphia and Denver were among the cities with the most traditional tastes, with58 percent and 51 percent, respectively, citing business suits as the outfit of choice for IT job candidates.
CIOs in Raleigh, N.C., and San Francisco were less formal in their expectations, with only 36 percent and 37 percent, respectively, preferring formal interview attire.
The national survey was developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm. The survey is based on more than 2,300 telephone interviews with CIOs from a random sample of U.S. companies in 23 major metro areas with 100 or more employees.
CIOs were asked, “Which of the following, in your opinion, is the most appropriate interview attire for someone interviewing for an IT job with your company?” Their responses:
|Formal business suit
|Khakis and a collared shirt
|Tailored separates (for example, a skirt and blouse)
|Jeans and a polo shirt
|Something else/don’t know
“Even in casual IT departments, hiring managers want to know that a job candidate has made an effort to look polished and professional,” said John Reed , senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “When in doubt, it’s better to err on the conservative side than risk appearing overly casual.”
Reed added that networking before the interview can help job candidates get a sense of how to dress when meeting with a hiring manager. “Candidates should consult an insider at the firm, a recruiter or an HR representative for information about the corporate culture and how people tend to dress.”
Robert Half Technology offers these additional interview attire tips:
- Choose something comfortable. You want to look as relaxed as possible, so avoid uncomfortable clothing. If you purchase new interview attire, wear it a few times to break it in before your meeting.
- Pay attention to details. Don’t overlook the less obvious aspects of your appearance, like your shoes, socks and accessories. Make sure your outfit is free of wrinkles and stains, your hair and nails are well groomed, and your shoes are polished.
- Don’t overdo it. Ultimately, you want your experience and skills to be the focus of the interview — not your outfit. Avoid any distracting clothing or jewelry, as well as excessive perfume, cologne or makeup.
- Turn off electronic “accessories.” Make sure any mobile device you have with you is off before the meeting.
- Dress the part for a video interview. Even if your interview is via webcam, you want to look the part. Make sure you dress appropriately from head to toe and the background is free of distractions.
Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
By Allan Maurer
What is the amount of accomplishment venture capitalists need to see these days to finance a true Series A r0und of a startup? The bar is higher than it used to be, says Mark Rostick, director of East Coast investments for Intel Capital.
Intel Capital must be doing something right. It is number one of a list of the top 20 venture capital firms of 2012 based on how many private tech company exits each had.
Rostick is among more than two dozen venture capitalists and investors participating in the upcoming Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14.
With the availability of online tools, the ability to inexpensively write code to get something started, and the proliferation of accelerators such as Y Combinator, there has been “An explosion of startups that create a light or beta version of a product and get a few customers to buy it quickly,” Rostick says.
The bar has moved
The problem is, he adds, “That water tends to be very shallow, so what they’ve accomplished doesn’t tell you much about what their chances are. It’s so much easier to do all of that earlier, the bar has moved for what an investor needs to see.”
That, he notes, means that “Now it’s much harder to separate the wheat from the chaff and judge how much the company has de-risked by what it has done. There is an explosion of new companies you need to sift through. So we have to be more savvy about what the level of accomplishment for a Series A financing needs to be.”
It also means startup teams need to think about how they’re going to separate themselves from the pack, he says. “Have they thought through their road map? Do they know their next step? Do they know what the management team needs? There are ways to prove your game.
Hot tech sectors
Intel, Rostick says, sees several tech sectors it thinks are going to do well.
“There is a ton of upside in the Enterprise that people haven’t thought about much,” he says. “A lot of startups in the social and mobile world use the cloud, but Enterprises are still in the process of making that move. It’s a gigantic shift and we’ve made a lot of bets on that infrastructure.”
Intel is also spending a good deal of time looking at big databases and analytics. “How do we talk about this data? How do we visualize it? All of that is creating opportunities. And it’s starting to mature to the point where people are thinking its time to get some bets down.”
Always looking for local opportunities
He suggests, “Look at the M&A history in these areas. IBM is buying analytics companies. SAS is doing that. They’re looking at how to use cloud infrastructure to help their customers.”
Another “big thing,” he says, “is the Internet of things.” If a company deploys a lot of equipment in factories or the field, trucks, a wireless network, meters, monitoring and managing them centrally makes a lot of sense,” Rostick explains.
It lets companies know what’s happening right now with the ability to fix or tune operations.
Online video and video analytics are two other areas Intel finds interesting.
Rostick asked us to note that Intel is “Always looking for local opportunities here in North Carolina.”
Monday, February 18th, 2013
By Allan Maurer
Does price really matter in a venture financing deal? Can “small ideas” still get funded?
Don Rainey, a former entrepreneur, says his 12-years “on the dark side” as a venture capitalist, have taught him a handful of lessons that still serve him daily, among them, answers to those questions and others.
Rainey, a general partner with Grotech Ventures since 2007, was named to the Washingtonian’s “Tech Titans” list in 2011, and currently serves on the boards of Grotech portfolio companies Clarabridge, GramercyOne, HelloWallet, LivingSocial, Personal, SnappCloud, and Zenoss. He’s one of more than two-dozen venture capitalists and other investors participating in the upcoming Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, March 13-14.
Price doesn’t matter
On his blog, VC in DC, Rainy outlined ten of the lessons about entrepreneurship that still guide him.
That business about price, for instance. “Price doesn’t really matter,” he says. “If you invest in something htat fails, it’s immaterial. If it wins, you might hope you had bought it a little cheaper, but you’ll always wish for that. The question is, is it something you believe in? If a deal works out, the price was right at some level. Get in good deals, and forget about getting the last dollar in a negotiation for that good deal.”
He adds, “We’re judged by whether the companies we invest in succeed, not the price.” Also, he notes, “Sometimes you do everything right and sill lose. Macro events can put real pressures on a company. Just think if you had gone into something aimed at financial services in 2007. Some things are beyond your control.”
Don’t pursue small ideas
Big ideas and small ideas are equally difficult, he says. But a venture capital firm has to have some multiple return on the capital it invests and can’t support small ideas, Rainey says. On his blog, he writes, ”What’s the point in trying to change the neighborhood when you can change the world.”
You’re not a rock star
“I’m very suspect of the venture capitalist who wants to be in front of the parade,” Rainey says. “That’s the role of the entrepreneur. We’re enablers, not the primary actors.”
Add value outside of board meetings
Portfolio company board meetings are not the place where a VC adds real value to the firm’s investment. “Private conversations over coffee, lunch, or late at night is when you really can influence the CEO,” Rainey says.
Don’t Invest in People who don’t take advice
Some entrepreneurs have a world class talent for ignoring good advice, Rainey notes on his blog. “I’ve done this 12 years and only had one CEO who ignored my advice and failed. He made a point of it. It wasn’t personal, he ignored everyone’s good advice. A good CEO listens to everyone.”
Then, he’ll let you know he heard you, saying something like, “I concur on these four items from your suggestions. “That’s what the smart ones do,” Rainey says. “They assimilate all that advice and incorporate it into their own perspective.”
Starting and running a business is often fraught with extreme ups and downs, more than one entrepreneur has told us. One day you land a really big customer, the next everyone you talk to says “No.” An entrepreneur has to be able to ride that roller coaster. “One of the great assets of an entrepreneur is confidence,” Rainey says.
“It does ebb and flow. There are days when you’re driving to work thinking there is no way you could be more screwed than you are at that moment, but when you get to work, you find out you were wrong, there are ways it can be worse. It’s hard. People don’t always appreciate how challenging it can be to be able to swing above your weight in the face of weeks or months of bad news. But you have to keep on fighting, even with a strong headwind.”
Be nice to people, it pays well
“In a business like ours,” Rainey says, “You have to say ‘no’ to 99 of 100 people who come to you for money. If you’re not nice to people, even when you have to say ‘no,’ they remember. They also remember if you were nice about it. None of knows where we’ll be in five years or what we’ll be doing.”
Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Even though this year’s flu virus is infecting people throughout the nation and New York and Boston even declared citywide health emergencies – you might not guess that Huntsville, Alabama is the city most concerned about it.
MaxPoint, a company that helps retailers and brands drive local in-store sales with its Digital Zip technology, announced its latest Interest Index, which reveals the cities most interested in flu-related remedies.
While that may or may not concern your company or your advertising clients specifically, MaxPoint notes that it is crucial for advertisers to dive deep into neighborhood and audience data when building campaigns.
For instance, New York and Boston did not even make the top ten list of cities most concerned about the flu this year.
By analyzing billions of in-store purchases and online data points, MaxPoint found that the 10 cities most interested in all things flu-related are the following:
1. Huntsville, AL
2. Knoxville, TN
3. Greensboro, NC
4. Greenville, SC
5. Des Moines, IA
6. Rochester, NY
7. Birmingham, AL
8. Boise, ID
9. Augusta, GA
10. Milwaukee, WI
nterest Data in Action
Using the data from this Interest Index, MaxPoint ran several digital advertising campaigns, including the following:
- A global pharmaceutical company with a diverse healthcare portfolio — including pharmaceuticals, eye care products and vaccines — wanted to drive adults over the age of 65 to select pharmacy locations to receive flu shots. Using MaxPoint’s hyperlocal advertising approach, the company achieved 164 percent lift in awareness of its flu vaccine at participating pharmacies.
- A manufacturer of analgesics wanted to increase brand awareness and drive sales of its products. By running digital ads with MaxPoint, the manufacturer achieved 3 percent sales lift in mass merchandise stores.
Friday, January 25th, 2013
State and local governments waste billions of dollars annually on economic development subsidies given to companies for moving existing jobs from one state to another rather than focusing on creating truly new positions, according to a study released today by Good Jobs First, a non-profit, non-partisan research center based in Washington, DC.
“What was long ago dubbed a Second War Between the States is, unfortunately, raging again in many parts of the country,” said Greg LeRoy , executive director of Good Jobs First and principal author of the report.
“The result is a vast waste of taxpayer funds, paying for the geographic reshuffling of existing jobs. By pretending that these jobs are new, public officials and the recipient companies engage in what amounts to interstate job fraud.”
Interstate job piracy is not a fruitful strategy for economic growth, LeRoy noted: “The costs are high and the benefits low, given that a tiny number of companies get huge subsidies for moving a small number of jobs.” LeRoy added: “Moreover, the availability of relocation subsidies allows companies that have no intention of moving to extract payoffs to stay put.”
Interstate relocations have microscopic job effects
Summarizing studies demonstrating that interstate relocations have microscopic job effects, the report also reviews the history of economic competition among the states and presents eight case studies of those areas where job piracy is most pronounced.
The case studies cover metropolitan areas such as Kansas City, Charlotte, New York and Memphis, where companies get subsidized to move short distances across state borders; states such as Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, New Jersey and Rhode Island that are aggressive users of relocation subsidies; and states such as Illinois and Ohio, which have given big retention or “job blackmail” packages.
The report recommends that states stop subsidizing companies for relocating jobs from other states, noting that four-fifths of the states already refuse to pay for intrastate job relocations.
The report also recommends that states end their business recruitment activities that are explicitly designed to pirate existing jobs from other states. It also suggests a modest role for the federal government: reserving a small portion of its economic development aid for those states that amend their incentive codes to make existing jobs ineligible for subsidies.
The report, entitled The Job-Creation Shell Game, is available at www.goodjobsfirst.org/shellgame.
Friday, January 18th, 2013
If it seemed harder to raise money last year, it was. Venture capitalists invested less money in 2012 than in 2011, the first such decline in three years, according to the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and PricewaterhousCoopers MoneyTree report.
In the Research Triangle, NC, which has bustling startup hubs in Durham, Raleigh, and Cary, companies raised less money than in any year since 1997, despite something of a rebound in the second half of the year.
Analysts say economic uncertainty and volatility as well as Facebook’s less than stellar IPO performance contributed to the caution on the part of VCs.
Venture funds invested $26.5 billion in 3,698 deals in 2012, a 10 percent decline in dollars and 6 percent drop in the number of deals.
Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA, however, looked on the bright side, saying that fewer funds and deals will lead to “a more disciplined environment,” in which better companies will get funded and many “me-too” firms copying other successful companies will not.
The full set of statistics are on the NVCA web site.
Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
The Southeast Venture Conference is headed to Charlotte, NC, in March 2013. The event offers firms a chance to present to top national venture capitalists and angel investors.
If you’re a high growth innovative company looking for funding, you still have a chance to present your business plan in front of top national venture capitalists and private equity professionals at the 2013 Southeast Venture Conference March 13th and 14th at the Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte, NC.
Applications to present at the event are still being accepted.
The event seeks high growth, innovative companies from diverse technology industries including Software-as-a-Service, New Media, Bio-IT, Clean-Tech, Medical Devices, Mobile, Security, among others.
You’ll meet hundreds of the region’s leading entrepreneurs and high growth company executives (from startups to pre-IPO), National Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Professionals, M&A facilitators and other leading professionals serving the high growth technology community.
SEVC highlights both early and later stage investment opportunities from: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington DC.
Last year’s SEVC Average Presenter Profile:
- Average Annual Revenue: $5.9 million
- Average Capital Raised to Date: $6.7 million
- Average Number of Employees: 35
While the presenting companies are from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the investors fly in from all parts of the country, including California, New York, and Massachusetts, as well as those that are regionally focused.
Exclusive panels, speakers, programming
The SEVC features market relevant investor and executive panels, exclusive networking opportunities, featured speakers and dozens of the region’s top private technology firms presenting to a national audience of venture capitalists, investment bankers and private equity investors.
As a TechMedia company and sponsor of the event, the TechJournal has reported on many firms that subsequently landed angel or venture backing. Venture capitalists tell us, they find new firms to put on their radar and track at each year’s event and many have returned year after year to spot hot Southeast opportunities.
SEVC is also an unparalleled networking event in which innovative firms meet potential partners, customers, and employees, in addition to making invaluable contacts within the venture and angel funding community.
Additional information on presenting and registration can be found at seventure.org andyou can view a list of past presenters here.
Monday, January 7th, 2013
Hatteras Venture Partners of Durham, NC, is the first licensee in the Early Stage Innovation Funds initiative, a part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) capital investment program.
Hatteras Venture Partners (HVP), a venture capital firm based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., focuses on seed and early stage opportunities in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, and related opportunities in human medicine.
HVP was selected because it demonstrated that it has a strong team with a clear, focused strategy and a track record investing in an undercapitalized region.
Promoting innovation and job creation
“The New Year is the perfect time to celebrate new businesses and win-win opportunities like the Early Stage Initiative,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.
“The Early Stage Innovation Funds initiative promotes American innovation and job creation by encouraging private sector investment in early stage small businesses. And by licensing funds like Hatteras Venture Partners IV, we can expand entrepreneurs’ access to capital at no cost to taxpayers.”
High-growth, early stage companies commonly experience a gap in the availability of funding between $1 million and $4 million levels.
The Valley of Death
This gap is often referred to in the venture capital industry as the “Valley of Death.” Since January 2006, less than 10 percent of all U.S. venture capital dollars went to seed funds investing at those levels, and approximately 70 percent of those dollars went to just three states: California, Massachusetts, and New York.
The Early Stage Innovation Funds initiative targets this gap by licensing and guaranteeing leverage to funds focused on early/seed stage investments. SBA’s improved licensing times under its SBIC debenture program complement the Early Stage Innovation Funds initiative.
SBA has committed up to $1 billion in SBA-guaranteed leverage over a five-year period for selected Early Stage Innovation Funds using its current SBIC program authorization. Licensed Early Stage Innovation
Funds can receive up to a maximum of $50 million in SBA-guaranteed funding to match their privately raised capital. Early Stage Innovation Funds must invest at least 50 percent of their investment dollars in early stage small businesses.
Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
By Joe Procopio
Two weeks ago, I moderated a panel on Internet Entrepreneurship at Raleigh’s Internet Summit. It was an intimidating experience as, although I’ve been on panels of all kinds, this was my first time moderating.
My panel was comprised of two founders – CEO Andy Beal from Trackur, a social media monitoring solution company in Raleigh, and COO Alexandre Douzet from The Ladders, the well-known online job matching service.
There were also two investors – Co-Founder/General Partner Brian Rich from New York-based Calatyst Investors and Co-Founder/General Partner Jason Caplain from Raleigh’s Southern Capitol Ventures.
Not to say that entrepreneurs and investors disagree all the time, but this panel agreed on quite a lot. Now, if you’ve ever seen a conference panel where all the panelists agree on everything, you know that can be the dead boring. But in this case it was actually helpful, because some really smart advice came out of it.
Regardless, I know what you want. Here’s where they disagreed
VC investment is down. Is this a hiccup or a trend?
The disagreement here was over the underlying causes of the downturn. Rich pointed to the ever-declining return on venture capital. Douzet noted the emergence of super angels, entrepreneurs who successfully exit their startup and use the proceeds to begin investing, have begun to replace early-stage, first-round VC money. Caplain offered that his firm has always made two new investments every year and is still doing that.
“Regardless of the overall trends,” Caplain said, “Great entrepreneurs always get capital.”
Everyone agreed with that. Aggressively.
Bootstrap or raise money?
Mostly there was agreement on why a startup should raise venture investment. Big, game-changing ideas in capital-intensive markets are obviously better candidates for VC money. Also, everyone agreed that an entrepreneur shouldn’t seek outside investment until they’ve determined that it’s absolutely necessary.
Andy Beal, a successful serial entrepreneur.
Andy Beal has built several companies without funding. He’s a big fan of keeping equity and control in his pocket, and noted that without investor backing, he’s been able to take on big ideas, work with new sciences and technologies, and make quicker decisions that he would have been able to otherwise.
Douzet stated that The Ladders raised its only outside money early on, and has been running on revenues for eight years. He didn’t see any negatives to using that initial funding as a launch pad.
Everyone agreed that it all depends on the investor. Choose wisely.
What sectors are hot in entrepreneurship?
Different investors have different theses – methodologies they use to determine which markets and which types of companies to invest in. Overall however, Rich noted that any company that can automate manual processes and compete on price was going to get attention.
Douzet spoke to his interest lying not so much in new sectors, but in applying new technologies to The Ladders, namely by making a big push into mobile.
Caplain and Beal felt that the sector didn’t matter much if the product and the company were solid. Talented entrepreneurs with great ideas who can execute on those ideas were the most important aspects of determining a successful company.
Everyone agreed with that. Including me.
Joe Procopio (@jproco) is a serial entrepreneur who currently heads up product engineering for startup Automated Insights. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent. You can read him at http://joeprocopio.com.
Friday, November 16th, 2012
Artist’s rendering of the new Durham @Main Street site for startups, expected to be ready by spring.
Durham, North Carolina is expanding it’s increasingly vibrant startup ecosystem.
The American Underground — located near the Durham Bulls baseball stadium, is expanding to a downtown space custom designed for early stage startups.
The Research Triangle area, long known as a top U.S. technology hub with tenants such as IBM, Cisco, Glaxo Wellcome, RTI and others, has also generated startups that became industry leaders such as SAS, Red Hat, Bandwidth and Quintiles. Not only Durham, but Cary and Raleigh are also evolving strong startup support systems.
The new Durham space, located at 201 West Main Street, the new space is an extension of the award-winning American Tobacco Historic District, home to the original Underground hub as well as many sizable mature companies, and strategically located between Research Triangle Park and world-class universities.
Space for 50 startups
Underground @Main Street, as the expansion hub is known, weighs in at 22,000 square feet with room for about 50 startups (see list below of already-committed companies).
The space — expected to open in the spring — covers two floors and will employ lessons from around the tech world to foster the collaboration, learning, and connections young companies need to thrive.
The City Center building at 201 West Main Street, owned by Self-Help, has a history of hosting entrepreneurial initiatives including the Bull City Startup Stampede and now houses prominent technology companies PathCentral and Blogads.
The new @Main Street site adds to Durham’s growing startup hub, which already boasts close to 100 early stage companies in residence, The Triangle Startup Factory accelerator, and packed networking events.
Partners put muscle in the ecosystem
Underground leaders recruited regional partners, including the Research Triangle Park Foundation. Says CEO Bob Geolas: “We believe in investing in the entrepreneurial community and we are committed to making those investments and partnerships work. RTP is focused on regional entrepreneurship that will create more jobs and educational opportunities for our state.”
NC IDEA — a catalyst for young, high-growth, North Carolina tech companies — will sponsor relevant content for entrepreneurs via events, networking and other programming. University partners include Duke, NC Central, NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. More information on their plans is coming in early 2013.
Bandwidth, a Triangle-born company that has grown into one of the nation’s largest telecommunication providers, and Yealink will equip startups at @Main Street and @American Tobacco with complimentary phone systems.
“Bandwidth and Yealink believe in the revolutionary power of startups,” says Bandwidth marketing chief Noreen Allen. “As they grow and succeed, we want to be right there supporting them.”
Growing Ecosystem Earns Broad Community Support
Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative is another key supporter. The program seeks to coordinate and enhance the university’s capabilities in education, research and translation to enable both commercial and social entrepreneurship.
“American Underground will help us reach an important goal — connecting Duke with the vibrant community of entrepreneurs in Durham,” said Eric Toone, the new director of the university’s Initiative.
Self-Help Vice President Tucker Bartlett noted, “The Underground @Main Street fits well with our 30-year mission of fostering small businesses, and empowering communities to provide broader opportunities for everyone. The redeveloped City Center building has been key in helping revitalize downtown Durham, and we look forward to the birth and growth of more successful ventures here.”
@Main Street’s roster of startups already includes Sqord, Archive Social, StartupSpot, Pluribus Systems, Green Plus, Synchear, Impulsonic, Mint Market, SalesTags, Privateer Digital Media, SongBacker, Thryv, iKlaro, HaitiHub, and PlusDelta Technologies.
Interested companies should visit www.americanunderground.com to apply for space @Main Street.
American Underground infograpic
Video about the Durham entrepreneurial ecosystem
A list of Durham-based startups with Web addresses
Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Researchers say they can boost the speed of public WiFi networks by up to 700 percent.
Have you struggled to log on to crowded WiFi hotspots or found the connection cripplingly slow? Researchers at North Carolina State University say they have a solution.
As many WiFi users know, WiFi performance is often poor in areas where there are a lot of users, such as airports or coffee shops and tech events.
WiFox speeds traffic by up to 700 percent
But researchers at NC State University have developed a new software program, called WiFox, which can be incorporated into existing networks and expedites data traffic in large audience WiFi environments – improving data throughput by up to 700 percent.
WiFi traffic gets slowed down in high-population environments because computer users and the WiFi access point they are connected to have to send data back and forth via a single channel.
If a large number of users are submitting data requests on that channel, it is more difficult for the access point to send them back the data they requested.
Similarly, if the access point is permanently given a high priority – enabling it to override user requests in order to send out its data – users would have trouble submitting their data requests. Either way, things slow down when there is a data traffic jam on the shared channel.
Now NC State researchers have created WiFox, which monitors the amount of traffic on a WiFi channel and grants an access point priority to send its data when it detects that the access point is developing a backlog of data.
The amount of priority the access point is given depends on the size of the backlog – the longer the backlog, the higher the priority. In effect, the program acts like a traffic cop, keeping the data traffic moving smoothly in both directions.
The more users, the better it performs
The research team tested the program on a real WiFi system in their lab, which can handle up to 45 users. They found that the more users on the system, the more the new program improved data throughput performance. Improvements ranged from 400 percent with approximately 25 users to 700 percent when there were around 45 users.
This translates to the WiFi system being able to respond to user requests an average of four times faster than a WiFi network that does not use WiFox.
“One of the nice things about this mechanism is that it can be packaged as a software update that can be incorporated into existing WiFi networks,” says Arpit Gupta, a Ph.D. student in computer science at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the work. “WiFox can be incorporated without overhauling a system.”
Monday, November 12th, 2012
artist’s rendering of the American Undergroun at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, NC
Groundwork Labs, a “no strings attached” technology accelerator located in Durham, NC, has announced a special program in summer of 2013 for a select group of entrepreneurs at five North Carolina universities.
A team from each school will be chosen to participate in the Groundwork Labs program, enabling the student teams to workvalongside the other companies in Groundwork Labs.
The teams will receive mentorship, marketing, legal, financial, and business plan advice from industry experts, and free office space in the entrepreneurial hub of North Carolina, Durham’s American Underground.
Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina, and Wake Forest University will select a team from their business plan competitions to join Groundwork Labs.
Bridge from University programs
“Underground Summer is a bridge from the excellent programs that the Universities have established,” said John Austin, Director of Groundwork Labs, “This experience will enable the students to experience the broader entrepreneurial community in the Triangle.”
Groundwork Labs enables technology startups to bootstrap, prepare for grant or angel funding, or apply to an accelerator. The program is similar to other mentor-driven accelerators except Groundwork does not make an investment nor take an equity stake in the company. This is made possible through the sponsorship of NC IDEA and their mission of furthering economic development in North Carolina through helping startups.
Since opening in February, 2012 Groundwork Labs has accelerated 23 startups. Three of these companies have won NC IDEA grants, two have received grants from other sources, one has its first seed investment, and two have been accepted into Triangle Startup Factory.
Student entrepreneurs should contact their respective schools regarding participation