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Posts Tagged ‘Argyle Social’

Startup movie night offers documentary look at Durham

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

DurhamDVDBy Joe Procopio

Tonight (Oct. 17) at 7:00 p.m., Argyle Social founder and CEO Eric Boggs will present Startup Movie Night at Motorco in Durham. The film, Durham: A Self-Portrait, is a documentary by Emmy-winning filmmaker Steven Channing and covers over 100 years of Durham History, from the birth of the tobacco era and “Black Wall Street,” right up to the Duke Lacrosse case.

Channing will also provide remarks.

The film ends its story a few years ago, and that’s right about the time Durham began its evolution into an up-and-coming and much-hyped startup hub. So it makes sense that over 100 people from in and around the entrepreneurial community here have already signed up for tonight’s screening.

But why a movie night?

Well. You’ve got to know the guy. It’s not just a movie for entrepreneurs anywhere. It’s this movie, for these entrepreneurs, in this city.

Funny story:

Right around ten years ago when I was at startup number eight, someone in HR there got the wacky idea to take everyone out on a field trip to see Startup.com, the independent film that chronicled the rise and subsequent spectacular fall of new media company govWorks.

startup.com

The documentary Startup.com traced the rise and fall of a dot com in the heady early years of Internet commerce.

HR never talked to me about things like this. I pushed out the product, they did the teambuilding. But having already seen Startup.com, I made the case that this was probably not a good idea. In fact, it was an awful idea. It was akin to showing Pop-Warner football players 90 minutes of The NFL’s Most Horrible Injuries Hosted by Joe Theisman.

Needless to say, at the end of 90-minutes, morale at that startup hit an all time low.

This is not that.

Boggs is all about Durham, and he’s also about documentaries. He sits on the board of the Southern Documentary Fund, which provides financing, workshops, feedback, and distribution to independent filmmakers in the region. Much like an incubator.

A little while ago, he screened Durham: A Self-Portrait for his Argyle employees and investors.  The response was so positive (and motivating) that he decided to do it again and expand.

The result was the organization of Startup Movie Night, sponsored by The Southern Documentary Fund, American Underground,Triangle Tech Talk,
Synergy Commercial Advisors,
BoostSuite, Argyle Social,Appia,
PMC Commercial Interiors, and
Haworth Office Furniture.

Knowing Boggs’ appreciation for docs and Durham, the film is somewhat an obvious choice, but it’s also the right film for the audience. The vibe that permeates startup culture is the same one that has built the name for Durham over the last several years. So in charting where you’re going, it helps to know where you came from, and this film, for these people, does just that.

That’s the plan, anyway.

If you’re not already registered, you can RSVP via the Eventbrite.

For a review of Startup.com by TechJournal editor Allan Maurer see:

Startup.com review.

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio (@jproco) is a serial entrepreneur who currently heads up product engineering for startup Automated Insights, which is also StatSheet. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent. You can read him at http://joeprocopio.com.

 

Entrepreneurs aren’t born, they’re launched

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

I see Anil Chawla everywhere I go. And while my ego told me he was probably stalking me, it turns out he’s been an entrepreneur for a long time, even though it’s only been a year since he let everyone know.

That was the day Anil left his posh job pushing code at IBM, where he had been for over six years, to hop on the roller-coaster ride of full-time founder.  Anil had been working under wraps to polish his product, TweetyMail (yes, I’ve spoken to him about the name, but you’ll remember it when you’ve finished reading this column). It’s a framework for accessing Twitter via email.  He later expanded to TheFriendMail, which accomplishes the same for Facebook.

Anil Likes Email

But on Thursday, January 12th, Anil will be one of the five startups launching new products at the third version of Launch Day, which gets started at 5:00 p.m. in Bay 7 of the American Tobacco campus in Durham.

In fact, Launch Day will be a reunion of sorts for me. I’ve known co-host Jake Finkelstein for about 10 years since we worked at a startup together, and I met co-host Sarah Wechsberg at last year’s Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, where she is a co-founder.

Launch Day will also have music provided in part by Argyle Social’s Danny Olinsky, who was the winner at last year’s StatSheet Pongageddon .

Names… Dropped

But back to Anil. On Thursday he’ll roll out Archive Social, which helps companies that are under strict communication regulations (think financial and healthcare), monitor and capture social media activity and preserves the data in a way that those businesses need to remain in compliance.

But Archive Social isn’t just about compliance, the product will capture and store social media communication in an automated way for any company that needs that data stored.

This sets is up as potentially disruptive. We’re all using social media, we apparently can’t get enough of it, and we all know that there’s a social paper trail out there, but we’re not archiving it, even our own personal communication like we would with email.

All That Interest in Email Paid Off

Anil actually got the idea for Archive Social while working on another product during Durham Chamber’s Startup Stampede. And like the four other companies at Launch Day Thursday night, he’ll be on stage making his pitch to the public for their participation. In his case, the ask is for companies to participate in the pilot.

Why archive your social? Businesses have been largely cavalier about their social media usage, but ultimately they may find that they have to trust that said data will be there when they need it.

Those companies in Archive Social’s sweet spot, the ones that are under compliance, find the storage regulations far more stringent. But if we’re all going to start storing our social media communication, which we likely will soon, then won’t we want the same protection that the most stringent archivers are using? Like maybe something that will hold up as evidence in a court of law?

Some of you care about this more than others, and I think we both know who you are.

The Accidental Entrepreneur

Anil isn’t what you’d think of as your traditional entrepreneur. He wasn’t selling lemonade when he was four years old. In fact, he had very little entrepreneurial background at all. He went to school like all the other kids, knew he had to get grades, go to college, get a job, and kick ass at it.

But from day one he couldn’t escape feeling like he was not living up to his potential. He said to himself that if he spent the next year doing what he was doing, at the end he wouldn’t be fired up, he’d be disappointed.

Most people think that someday they’re going to leave their job and start their own business, and ultimately most people do not. When Anil left IBM, he wasn’t far enough along to live on the income from his startup, but he had gained the confidence that this would happen down the road.

Everyone Has to Jump

TweetyMail and TheFriendMail do well, continue to grow, and currently process about 1 million emails a month through the service. A chunk of his customers are paying, and it’s profitable.

Archive Social is a pivot. He’ll look to do a public launch in the middle of the year as a small/medium business play. The product will be his flagship… for now. If he finds something else that has the same kind of potential, he’ll build that, but like the other products that came before, he’ll continue to grow what he’s got.

Launch Day III: The Launchening

Like previous Launch Days (and most public pitch formats), each founder gets 3-5 minutes to drop knowledge followed by another 1-2 minutes to answer questions. It isn’t meant to be a contest, but rather a public request for help, whether that help comes in the form of pilot customers, testers, employees, or the old standby, investment, that’s up to each founder as they take the stage.

Launch Day founder Scott Kelly has also expanded, so to speak, and created a series of programs this year, including Startup High, a mentoring and educational program for local startup CEOs to show the ropes to high school students over two weeks this summer, and Startup Madness, an all-ACC program that pairs a local executive and a local student from each of the ACC schools. He’s even working on Pittsburgh and Syracuse, even though they aren’t official until 2013.

The four other presentations are Pruvop, who will be rebranding, INRFOOD, the latest from GoToAid maker Jaargon, Pengo  working on peer-to-business loans for emerging markets, and Pasplore , a browser extension grabs data and brings it into a workable format.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for automated content startup Automated Insights. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent, consulting marketplace Intrepid Company, and the Intrepid Media writers network (http://IntrepidMedia.com). You can read him athttp://joeprocopio.com and follow him at http://twitter.com/jproco.

2012: The Year the RTP Startup Ecosystem Explodes

Friday, January 6th, 2012

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

I’ll start off 2012 with two disclaimers.

One: Apologies to you Mayan calendar believers, I didn’t mean to alarm you with the title. 2012 won’t be the year that random Durham entrepreneurs spontaneously combust – although that could happen, it’s highly unlikely. I’ll make it up to you by not making an easy joke at your expense.

Two: I’ll be honest with you. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the RTP Startup Ecosystem this year. I’ve seen some crazy stuff in my time here. For all I know, Durham could become the food truck capital of the world, pushing technology, bio, and gaming aside, and prompting food truck tourism and a Food Truck Alley along Jackie Robinson drive.

For all I know.

But I can tell you this. What happens in the oh-twelve is going to build off of what happened in 2011. And if you have to put a single word on what the RTP did to justify its position in the startup universe relative to Silicon Valley, New York, Boulder, etc., that word would be: Organization.

Note that it’s not: Money. That’s what 2012 needs to be about.

In 2011, the RTP startup ecosystem finally took it upon itself to connect its various garages, coffee shops, and secret evil lairs in an effort to combine strengths, learn from one another, and sort out who is who and who is working on what. It was 99% a grass roots effort, which is good, in that it was very inclusive, but not so good, in the sense that the movement is still pretty underpowered. All in all, it was a measurable jump-start, but there’s a lot left to do.

So let’s take a look back over the year that was and make some assumptions about the year that is.

Hey! I’ve got an idea! Let’s do this via a collection of 2011 highlights from my column.

At least it’s not a top 10 list. Happy New Year.

Doing It Right

Several RTP companies landed major funding in 2011. Having walked that walk as part of the management team of Automated Insights/StatSheet (another disclosure), I can tell you that raising money last year wasn’t easy. But that also means that the companies that did receive funds are solid.

In Rabid Wolverines: Why Argyle Social is the Test Case for Durham 2.0, I talked about the aggressive, confident approach of Argyle and Eric Boggs, a refreshing attitude as Durham 2.0 started to spring up.

The Underground Got Relevant

Then in July, I sat down with James Avery and came out the other side with Adzerk’s No-BS Approach Results in $650K. Adzerk was proving the Durham startup thesis, founded by pivoting an existing business in RTP, moving into American Underground, taking advantage of the support groups springing up throughout the area, and ultimately running the gauntlet of both local and national VC raises. Successfully, as it turned out.

Launch Party? How About Launch Festival

Later that same month, I told you about a product launch that turned into an old-school dot-com style party in Bringing Sexy Back: Why deja Fest Is More Than a Launch Party. deja mi’s founder Justin Miller organized (there’s that word again) a two-day, 26-band event to prove out his venue-based media sharing application before it got the live customer treatment at the Hopscotch Festival in September.

All Work and No Play

By the way, those three companies were in attendance, along with about a dozen others, at Pongageddon: The RTP Startup Ecosystem Goes Rogue in March, a day of pizza, beer, and local startups competing for a ping-pong trophy hosted by StatSheet. This was one of the first formal get-togethers of some of the local entrepreneurs, but it would definitely not be the last.

The Graduating Class

But 2011 wasn’t just about the established and funded. In December, I got the chance to judge a UNC-hosted startup event and wrote about Ten Promising Rookie Startups from the Carolina Challenge. This included $1000 winner (and established though not funded) YardSprout and 47 other startups, most of whom I had not heard of before that night but will keep an eye on this year.

So yeah, that was 2011, but that was just the stuff I wrote about startups, and those few companies I got to are just the tip of the iceberg that is the 200+ tech startups in RTP. In a future installment, I’ll reminisce about the explosion of support organizations and how even those organizations got more organized.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for automated content startup Automated Insights. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent, consulting marketplace Intrepid Company, and the Intrepid Media writers network (http://IntrepidMedia.com). You can read him at http://joeprocopio.com and follow him at http://twitter.com/jproco.

Social media marketing: timing maximizes engagement (infographic)

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011
Adam Covati

Adam Covati - Founder & CTO, Argyle Social

By Allan Maurer

Whenever strategy is important – in war, games, and marketing, timing may not be everything, but it is critically important. And, it is crucial to maximizing your social media marketing efforts, says Adam Covati, founder and CTO of Argyle Social.

Argyle, Covati notes, “Does a lot of original research.” He is one of dozens of digital media and marketing thought-leaders participating in the upcoming Internet Summit Nov. 15-16 at the Raleigh, NC Convention Center. He’ll talk about measuring, managing, and monetizing social media.

Get everyone on the same page

His first piece of advice is to “Get everyone in marketing on the same page. Use the same platform. Aggregate your efforts in one place and use consistent web analytics or third party tools. Once you’re organized, you can really measure things and then you can figure out how to do more of what’s working.”

Argyle Social recently conducted research on how to time social media posts strategically to maximize engagement. It collected the results in an infographic Covati will discuss in more detail at the Internet Summit. Among the findings: marketers usually post to Twitter, Facebook or other social media outlets when they’re at work rather than when their audience is listening.

One strategy Covati suggests is to repost items. “We found that if you get it out there multiple times via multiple channels, you get about the same click-through rate each time. You reach different crowds on a Monday, on weekends, on evenings. So we might take one article and post it multiple times over a month.”

The infographic itself provides a good deal of insight into social media timing:

social timing infographic

 

Tech jobs under the Big Top 2: running away with the startup circus

Monday, October 17th, 2011

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Did you read the piece I wrote back in May about Tech Jobs Under the Big Top?  Click on it so I get the credit and I’ll boil it down for you here.

  1. The brainchild of former Launchbox Executive Director Chris Heivly, Big Top purported to create a job fair strictly for startups and, in doing so, turn the concept of a job fair completely on its head.
  2. Underwear joke.
  3. It succeeded, and the event drew 15 companies pitching over 85 jobs to over 250 job-seekers in an atmosphere that resembled an actual circus, down to the clowns, jugglers, and free peanuts and cotton candy.

No wait, I know I just blew your mind, so you might have missed where I said 15 companies pitched 250+ job seekers — not screened, but pitched – with each company giving a three-minute presentation on why their startup was the place you wanted to work.

We’re Changing the World Plus We Have a Ping Pong Table

I loved that concept. A lot. I was there with one of the companies doing the pitching. So I sat down with Heivly as he was gearing up for Big Top 2.0, which is taking place Thursday, October 20th at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Campus. You can find out more at BigTop.IT or just go register at: bigtop.eventbrite.com.

If you’re looking for a job and/or have ever thought about working for a startup, there is no better way to amplify your job search. Even if you’re gainfully employed, as about half of the job-seekers at Big Top are, you may want to drop by (although if you’re unprepared to be swayed by the magic and the majesty and the long hours and the low pay of Startup Nation, save the ticket for someone who needs it).

In my own view, the concept was a smash hit for a lot of reasons. As I pointed out in my last column, the Big Top event succeeded at removing the stigma of unemployment by turning the tables and having the potential employers sell themselves. Finding a job is hard enough. Finding a job at a job fair is like getting a root canal. Finding a job at a job fair during a recession is like getting a root canal from someone who works in Human Resources.

This is why Heivly had us pitch the job seekers, and I can tell you firsthand that each company got on board and produced presentations that ranged from gut-bustingly funny to eye-opening inspirational. You couldn’t help but have a smile on your face by the second or third pitch.

Do You Have Any Idea Who I Am?

BitTop event

The Big Top jobs event

But this is not the kind of endeavor you undertake a second time just because you made people feel better. Believe me, if I had a nickel for every time something I wrote made someone laugh, I’d make even less money writing than I do now.

You’re welcome.

One thing Heivly pointed out that I wouldn’t have put together is that Big Top and the resultant hype also dropped the names and identities of many local, working, hiring startups into the lexicon of 250 potential employees.

A lot of feedback from the first event centered around the fact that the job seekers just didn’t know there were this many of this kind of company in the area. You may not think this possible, I sure didn’t, but those of us who are immersed in the ecosystem, especially those of us shouting from the rooftops about how awesome this ecosystem is, can easily forget that the vast number of people out there have never heard of any of us.

But most importantly, Big Top succeeded as a job fair, resulting in a vast amount of connections, many useful relationships, and of course, several filled positions.

So What’s New?

Here we are just under half-a-year later and the outlook really hasn’t changed all that much. The silver lining on the cloud is that there are still at least a dozen smart, passionate startups who need smart, passionate technologists.

This time around, Heivly tells me, there will be more focus on the networking. One easy solution is that there are three fewer companies, so they still get the three minute pitch, but it won’t take as much time.

Heivly is also sending out an email to all registrants with all 60+ jobs that the startups need filling, so both sides can get right to the point.

In an additional effort to make the discussions more efficient, Big Top 2.0 will feature 12 tables, one for each company, instead of three tables, one for each discipline (technology, marketing, general business).

You Have To Be Crazy To Work Here

Overall, Heivly admits he’s done a little better job talking about the companies. Correspondence with the registered job-seekers is about making sure that the right people are there – because these are early-stage tech companies, and the jobs are more than 50 percent software development.

Last time, he says, about 20 percent of the crowd realized they didn’t belong there. Why? They just weren’t the special kind of crazy you need to be to work at a startup. Again, it’s high risk, long hours, low pay, and so glamorous that the vast majority of people out there will never have heard of you.

But it’s the other 80 percent that the startups need to reach. As Heivly jokes, and I agree, every developer we get from IBM is a win for the ecosystem.

One thing that won’t change, thankfully and rightly so, is the tone. There will still be jugglers and acrobats and the tent and the straw and the free beer and carnival snacks. All of this lends to a very comfortable networking environment.

At some point, Heivly wants to see this expand out of software and into life science and other startup disciplines. I told him I think gaming would be huge, and he agreed. But regardless of whether we’re talking about a BigTop 3.0 for web, mobile, biotech, gaming, clean & green, or craft brewing, as long as we’re talking about the RTP startup ecosystem, we’ll reach more people who have never heard of companies like Adzerk, EvoApp, Shoeboxed, HEALTHeME, ReverbNation, Argyle Social, and so on.

Mort importantly however, the more those companies keep finding smart, passionate technologists (like you), the less we’ll need to talk about it, because it will speak for itself.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for tech media startup Automated Insights (formerly StatSheet). He also owns consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media and runs the startup social ExitEvent. Joe can be reached via Twitter @jproco and read at joeprocopio.com.

 

Internet Summit bringing 120 digital gurus to Raleigh Nov. 15-16

Thursday, October 6th, 2011
Interent Summit 2011TechMedia’s Internet Summit 2011 at the Raleigh, NC Convention Center Nov. 15-16  is jam-packed with top level content focused on the latest digital trends, online marketing techniques and IT best practices at the largest digital event in the Southeast.
 
The Internet Summit features two full days of learning mixed with awesome parties, great networking and entertaining keynotes.  Here’s a sampling of topics that will be addressed:

  • Online Video
  • Cloud Panel
  • Ecommerce Trends
  • Reputation Management
  • Security/Risk Management
  • Startup Strategies
  • Enterprise 3.0 Panel
  • Email Marketing
  • Mobile Analytics
  • Advanced SEO
  • Big Data
  • Measuring Social
  • Design
  • Paid Search
  • CIO/CTO Panel
  • Online Advertising
  • Location Marketing
  • Marketing Through Facebook & Twitter
  • Virtualization
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Internet Entrepreneurship Panel
  • and much more.

Hear from the founders of companies like Gowalla, TheLadders, Twitpic & HowStuffWorks!  Not enough?  How about a Keynote from Top rated SXSW keynote and ‘Social Media King’ Gary Vaynerchuk? That’s just a sampling of the over 120 speakers and presenters that will be on hand.

Early confirmed presenters include:
  • Gary Vaynerchuk, Co-Founder, VaynerMedia 
  • Josh Williams, Co-founder & CEO, Gowalla 
  • Mac Cendella, Founder & CEO, The Ladders 
  • Marshall Brain, Founder, How Stuff Works 
  • David Perry, Business Development Executive, Google
  • Liz Strauss, Co-founder, SOBcon & LizStrauss.com 
  • Noah Everett, Founder, TwitPic and Heello 
  • Jack Krawczyk, Sr Product Marketing Mgr, StumbleUpon 
  • Traug Keller, Sr VP of Production, ESPN
  • Jeff Ragovin, Chief Revenue Officer, Buddy Media 
  • Peggy Fry, Chief Revenue Officer, Clearspring Technologies
  • Mike Relm, Founder, Relmvision 
  • Bob Young, Founder & CEO, LuLu.com
  • Donna DeMarco, Co-Founder & VP, Viddler 
  • Ryan Mannion, Chief Technology Officer, Politico 
  • Fran Maier, President & Executive Chair, TRUSTe
  • Jerry Cuomo, CTO WebSphere, IBM
  • Prerna Gupta, CEO, Khush
  • Kevin Dando, Dir Digital & Education Communication, PBS
  • Clint Smith, Co-Founder & CEO, Emma
  • Matt Crenshaw, VP of Marketing, Discovery Communications
  • Scott Gunter, VP of User Experience, Usability Sciences 
  • Lindsay Wassell, Partner & Consultant, KeyphraSEOlogy 
  • Steve Ashley, VP Internet Marketing, Market America 
  • Gerard Bush, Chief Creative Dir, The brpr Group 
  • Rob Ousbey, VP Operations Seattle, Distilled 
  • David Gudai, VP of Marketing, Storkie 
  • Glenn Mersereau, Dir of Internet Marketing, PHE
  • Jim Tobin, President, Ignite Social Media
  • Kevin Pomplun, CEO, SkyGrid 
  • Sherry Bastion, Web Creative Director, Lenovo 
  • John Lovett, Sr Partner, Web Analytics Demystified
  • Drew Diskin, Dir of Interactive & Web Strategy, Penn Medicine 
  • Lynette Montgomery, VP Ecommerce, Burt’s Bees 
  • Noah Dinkin, Co-Founder & President, FanBridge 
  • Jessica Bowman, SEOinhouse.com
  • David Gudai, VP of Marketing, Storkie
  • Todd Moy, Sr User Experience Designer, Viget Labs
  • Donna Bedford, Global SEO Lead, Lenovo
  • Francis Shepherd, Media Evangelist
  • Dallas Lawrence, Chief Digital Strategist, Burson-Marsteller
  • Thuy LeDihn, Senior Marketing Manager, .ORG
  • Adam Covati, Co-founder & CTO, Argyle Social
  • Chris Condayan, American Society for Microbiology
  • Kyle Scott Richardson, Social Media, NC National Guard
  • Cara Rousseau, Social Media Manager, Duke University
  • Loren Baker, VP of Marketing, Blueglass
  • Matthew Munoz, Partner & Chief Design Officer, New Kind
  • Jill Whalen, CEO, HighRankings
Register today to secure your seat!

Pongageddon: The RTP startup ecosystem goes rogue

Monday, March 21st, 2011

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

This year’s Final Four was as heated and satisfying as all the hype built it up to be. And when it was over, cheers erupted not only for the champion, but for the three other finalists as well. In the true spirit of competition, backs were patted, hands were shook, and only a small fraction grumbled about the seeding and the venue selection.

I know what you’re thinking. And while my StatSheet robot-enabled picks are currently crushing brackets throughout the country in my own “Bringing Down the House” moment (I’m thinking Ben Mezrich, David Fincher, and Bradley Cooper), what I’m talking about today, a full two weeks before the end of the NCAA Tournament, is Pongageddon.

Pong I

Late last year, the crew at StatSheet hosted a day of pizza, soda, T-shirts, and ping-pong to celebrate… something. And that’s the point. It wasn’t an award or a demo, there were no high-profile speakers (we tried to get Bob Young, but apparently in Canada they play ping-pong outdoors on ice with regulation mittens and it’s called Ice Mittens). There were no slide decks, no sponsors or booths.

It was just a way for friends and friends of friends to get together, blow off a little steam, and possibly win a trophy with a Buick on top that said “2nd Place” by beating everyone in the room, bracket style, at ping-pong.

That feat was accomplished by iContact and Preation’s Aaron Houghton who, while seeming very nonchalant in a dress shirt and khakis, trumped everyone with his own equipment bag, gold-plated paddle, and grizzled old coach who stood in the corner and glared at everyone, occasionally shooting Aaron a nod when it was time to take out someone’s knee.

Kidding, the paddle wasn’t gold plated.

But as Aaron’s name was duct-taped to the bottom of the Buick trophy, it was obvious that this would not be the only instance of this event.

Pong II

So this past Friday, just because, StatSheet opened the doors again. No Eventbrite, not a lot of promotion, just email to everyone anyone knew plus some light Twittering and Facebooking.

This time, building-mates and fellow startuppers NetSertive played co-hosts, offering up a second table, a refrigerator full of beer, and a break room full of food, essentially doubling down on the entire experience.

Around 50 hardworking entrepreneurs showed up, as well as a few investors and advisors. Pleasantries were exchanged and then the mayhem got underway.

The brackets included representatives from StatSheet and NetSertive and also, let’s go alphabetical:

Adzerk, Appia, Argyle Social, DejaMi, DigitalSmiths, HireNetworks, Intersouth, Loyalese, Idea Fund Partners, Plotwatt, Preation, Robinson Bradshaw & Hinton, Southern Capitol, Square One Bank, and WeGeo – and I’m sure I’m leaving more than one out, this is just all I could remember off of the top of my head.

Play By (Mobile/Web/Social) Play

Needless to say, the competition on the table matched the nature of the players. Whether the talent level was lacking (names withheld), passable (I lost a nail biter to Square 1’s Zack Mansfield after being up 9-7 in the final game), or Gumpesque, everyone brought their A game.

The Final Four matchups were ridiculous to watch, and before long almost everyone had turned away from the basketball games being projected onto one wall and took a spot around the table.

The first best-of-three, 21-point match featured StatSheet’s own Ganesh Karthik Bonala against Argyle’s Danny Olinsky. While Ganesh handily took the first game, Danny fought hard and picked up the last two for the win.

The second semifinal was brutal. Appia CTO Slawek Pruchnik and defending champion Aaron Houghton put on was can only be described as a violent forehand smash clinic that injured more than one bystander. I’ve never seen two people sweat harder playing a sport that you usually play in street clothes (you know, bowling, darts, poker).

But that’s the nature of this crowd.

In the end, Argyle’s Olinsky finessed a visually spent Pruchnik for the Buick trophy.

Names Dropped, Column Almost Over

While this was an awesome event to host and even more fun to write about (let’s face it, entrepreneurism is really mostly a lot of boring hard work), my point is that this is more of what we need as we boldly move forward. Non-sponsored, topic-free, open-invite events like this foster a huge amount of community, which is exactly why StatSheet CEO Robbie Allen set it up in the first place.

It’s something I tried to create with ExitEvent while we were still trying to figure out what ExitEvent was. A lot of the people who were at Pongageddon were at the first ExitEvent meetup, and we didn’t do much more than drink a few beers and chat about what was going on in our world.

Now I know that that’s what it could and should have been. It’s not that we’re any less open and sharing than any other regional startup ecosystem, this is just the result of the fragmentation that we all know exists. I know I want to undo that, I know I’m inspired by what I saw, and I know I’m not alone.

There are other events that fit this mold. Deck Party (full disclosure, the brainchild of this very online property) is already another great example of a party just for the party’s sake, even though it looks more like a networking event until you actually attend.

The point is there’s something valuable here and these folks have tapped into it nicely. If we can keep the fun factor at the level where people will attend, the value will take care of itself.

So as Danny Olinsky’s name was duct-taped to the Buick trophy, it was obvious that this would not only not be the last instance of this event, but it would likely no longer be the only event of its kind.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet .  He also owns startup consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media . Next outing won’t be so personal, he’s got a Xoom coming. Joe can be reached via Twitter: twitter.com/jproco.

TechJournal South is a TechMedia company. TechMedia presents the annual conferences:

SoutheastVentureConference: www.seventure.org

Internet Summit: www.internetsummit.com

Digital East: www.digitaleast.com

Digital Summit: www.digitalsummit.com

 

Rabid Wolverines: Why Argyle Social is the Test Case for Durham 2.0

Monday, February 28th, 2011

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Eric Boggs needs money, people, and maybe small arms.

He’ll be making the trip to Atlanta with hundreds of other entrepreneurs, investors, advisors, and, well, me, for this year’s Southeast Venture Conference (hosted by TechMedia, the fine folks behind this very digital publication) on March 2nd and 3rd.

But for Eric and the company he co-founded, social media marketing software company Argyle Social as well as more than a handful of local early-stagers, this is more than just handshaking and a demo.

It’s a revolution.

Viva Argyle!

A little history.  Argyle Social was formed roughly 15 months ago when Eric and Adam Covati decided they had found their product. The two had always planned on starting a company, so much so that when Eric graduated from Kenan-Flagler in 2009 (a return trip after several years as the first employee at Bronto), he didn’t bother looking for a job. He knew starting a company was in his blood, it was just a matter of what to make.

Ten months later, at (yet another ridiculously valuable startup event from TechMedia) Internet Summit, Argyle won Best in Show. Go figure that a social media marketing company  took home the voter prize – Eric cringes at the thought of what losing would have said about the company. The prize included a March-Madness-like automatic bid to present to investors at this year’s SEVC.

Diaper Dandies?

Not that they needed the automatic invite, however, as Argyle is one of several promising early stage startups in the RTP. They raised their seed round earlier this year with investors like Idea Fund Partners, who themselves have a pretty decent sense of what’s going to work, along with iContact’s Aaron Houghton, ReverbNation’s Jed Carlson, and Shoeboxed’s Taylor Mingos; dudes who know a thing or two about starting up.

Their board, which includes Idea Fund’s Lister Delgado as well as Stephen Vanderwoude, has been of enormous value to Argyle, and it’s a good bet they’ll be very helpful down in Atlanta as well. Argyle is looking for three to four million in a Series A round, with which they hope to release the rabid wolverines.

Rabid Wolverines?

Yes. Rabid wolverines.

Sorry. This is something of an inside joke. No wait, it’s totally an inside joke, one that came out of Argyle when software engineer Mike Novi stated that’s how they should attack their target segment. So they put “rabid wolverines” in the job posting, to highlight the productivity expectations, and they tweeted it, and that in turn got picked up by Fast Company as one of the reasons why startups have an edge on hiring rock star talent.

Downtown Durham’s Alpha Release

Argyle is one of the first, if not the first, product born of the revitalization of Durham as an entrepreneurial hub.

They’re in downtown Durham in the Snow Building, an art-deco landmark on Main Street. And by “landmark” I mean it has the single most frightening elevator I’ve ever ridden in, including downtown London and the Tower of Terror. Eric and Adam are both products of other local startups. Their investors include the aforementioned successful entrepreneurs, all of whom are still diligently at work locally building their companies.

That’s evidence enough right there, but Eric and Adam have also spoken, presented, or attended most of the startup 2.0-style meetups and events. They’re an NC Idea grant winner. And as mentioned, they pivoted from there to Internet Summit and now SEVC.

They also have seven full-time employees, customers, revenue, and measurable growth, including doubling revenue month over month in 2011 thus far.

How can you not want to find out how this is going to play out?

“We’re Going to Succeed”

Eric is not just of hopeful for Argyle’s success, he’s convinced of it. Whether the next big step comes out of SEVC or not, whether it’s this investor or that, no matter the amount of tweaks to the plan or the strategy, they’re going to make it.

It isn’t a boastful thing, it’s a competitive thing and an aggressive thing. A wolverine thing.

And that ethos isn’t just limited to Eric and Argyle. SEVC will be packed with half-a-dozen companies presenting, and likely dozens of other entrepreneurs or soon-to-be entrepreneurs, who will someday evolve into the companies that solidify the RTP’s hold on the startup map.

I use Argyle as one example, the proof that Downtown Durham, and all the efforts going into the revitalization of the RTP as an entrepreneurial hub, and all these second-wave startups and the ever-increasing number of organizations and people and resources that are becoming available – deep breath – are all working.

So bring on the wolverines. It’s their time.

Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet.  He also retains ownership in consulting firm Intrepid Company and creative network Intrepid Media. In full disclosure, StatSheet and Argyle have what can only be called a “full-blown ping-pong feud” underway. It’s bloody. Joe can be reached via twitter: www.twitter.com/@jproco.

 

NC State expanding Triangle StartupTour

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

NCSURALEIGH, NC – North Carolina State University, in partnership with Southern Capitol Ventures, a North Carolina-based early-stage venture capital firm, is expanding a program launched three years ago to showcase some of Research Triangle Park’s biggest technology success stories to students in NC State’s Entrepreneurship Initiative .

The expanded program will now include students from other regional universities including Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The goal is to have students benefit from the exposure to all the companies they meet and begin to collaborate on their own ventures.

The next event will be held on October 22, 2010, with approximately 20 students from three universities participating.

Triangle Start-up Tour

The Triangle Start-Up Tour has experienced outstanding participation over the last three years with the participation of following companies:

Argyle Social, Bandwidth.com, Bluestripe Software, Bronto Software, Burt’s Bees, Canvas On Demand, Capitol Broadcasting, ChannelAdvisor, Cisco, Cree, Digitalsmiths, eTix, Global Value Commerce, Hosted Solutions, iContact, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Pocketgear, Preation, Red Hat, ReverbNation, SAS, SciQuest, SchoolDude, SchoolHouse, ShareFile, Spoonflower, Square 1 Bank, StatSheet, StrikeIron, The Venue Network, Therasim and Zift Solutions.

This program is similar in many ways to the NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative’s annual Spring Break field trip to Silicon Valley, where students have toured companies like Facebook, Apple, Google and Kleiner Perkins.

Usually, a founder or senior-level executive talks about the history of the company, what they are doing today and answers questions from students.  Dr. Tom Miller, the EI’s executive director and vice provost for Distance Education and Learning Technology, has led that Silicon Valley trip for the last eight years.

Better known in Silicon Valley than our own backyard

“Several years ago, Bill Campbell, the chairman of Intuit, heard we were coming to town and changed his schedule so that he could meet with our students.  I realized then that we were better known in Silicon Valley than in our own backyard, and that we should be giving our students the opportunity to interact with the entrepreneurial companies and thought leaders in our state,” said Dr. Tom Miller.

“Three years ago, we launched this program to build greater awareness so that students are exposed to some of the great technology development happening here in North Carolina,” said Jason Caplain, general partner at Southern Capitol Ventures.

“We continue to be impressed with the caliber of the students that are graduating from universities in North Carolina, and we hope this added network helps retain more students here in the region.”

Cracking the code on social media ROI

Monday, October 11th, 2010
Jim Hazen

Jim Hazen, Metrics and Analytics Director, Capstrat

By Allan Maurer

RALEIGH, NC – In the social media world, says Jim Hazen, the metrics and analytics director at Raleigh-based PR and marketing firm, Capstrat, “There is a lot of chest-thumping about how we can do this and that, but I don’t think anyone has cracked the code on how to measure digital channels.”

Hazen notes that a lot of software companies are working on various aspects of digital measurement, including one we wrote about last week, Argyle Social, which landed seed money for its measurement oriented social media platform, which Hazen says he uses.

But Hazen adds, “As far as understanding the what the true return on investment is, we’re still in an embryonic state.”

Hazen, who helps Capstrat’s interactive team use tools such as Google’s Analytics, Omniture and Coremetrics to analyze and maximize social marketing efforts for clients including Lenovo, Quintiles, and Strategyn, is one of more than 100 top Internet thought leaders, executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists participating in Tech Media’s Raleigh, NC Internet Summit Nov. 17-18. Argyle Social’s CEO Eric Boggs is another participant.

Objective necessary

One reason that digital media channels prove difficult to measure in terms of real impact on a firm’s bottom line is that they jump in without a strategic objective. Lacking an objective is an overall problem with social media, he says. “Companies feel they need to be there so they are there because they think they have to be instead of doing it strategically.”

On the other hand, some firms “Get into it to handle customer service complaints or answer questions through Twitter.” In that case, great objectives might be, “Let’s improve customer satisfaction or reduce calls to our support center.”

With those objectives, Hazen says, “You can figure ROI if costs go down.”

But all too often, he says, companies instead “Have only a vague notion of brand awareness or engagement without a quantifyable way to measure what it means.”

Regardless of the media a marketing campaign uses, whether paid search or billboards on I-40, “You need a reason for doing it.”

Staffing important

Doing a social media campaign effectively often comes down to staffing, he says. Successful companies have goals, but also have staff. It should be someone’s dedicated focus and knows how to write and communicate.

Doing it right does have benefits. “The cool thing,” says Hazen, “is that your message is amplified. You can get it to a much larger audience if you know what you’re doing. And generally speaking, it’s free except for time and energy, although that’s not to be overlooked.”

Right now, Hazen notes, most people in social media and digital analytics “Have learned by fire. There aren’t many programs to teach you how to do these things. Colleges don’t change curriculum on the fly. I imagine in thenext five years, we’ll see a lot more trained expertise in this area.”

Google Analytics ok for many

For most companies now, Hazen suggests that Google Analytics are probably enough for most needs, especially if they take the time to learn to customize it.  Firms that want to import other data to add more meaning via demographics and customer profiles may need more robust solutions.

Still, he says, many companies with Enterprise analytics solutions now are “Driving a Lambergini five miles an hour.”

He says he sees a lot of companies that do not need that level of data and get away with using Google Analytics.

Again, however, he says it helps to have dedicated resources such as someone who learns to create custom reports and really acquire some understanding of the metrics available.

It’s still difficult to measure the more indirect effects of digital marketing. While he likes Argyle Social, for instance, he says it’s still limited to measuring that direct effect when you click on a link.

“What about the things going on off your site in communities and so on? How do you measure that? Someone could make a lot of money if they figure it out.”

Durham’s Argyle Social banks $325K for social media software

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

By Allan Maurer

Eric Boggs

Eric Boggs

DURHAM, NC – The Argyle Co. Inc., which sells social media marketing  software, issued a status update today – it has closed on a $325,000 seed financing, all from NC Research Triangle-based investors.  Eric Boggs, co-founder and CEO  tells us, “We help marketers understand how their content and social media presence correlates to their bottom line.”

The company previously received a $33,000 grant from NC IDEA, which may not be a lot of money, but “It ignited us into action and made a huge difference in terms of product development,” says Boggs.

Boggs and his co-founder, Adam Covati, described on the company web site as someone who can “drink coffee at a mind-boggling clip,” met while they were at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (where Boggs was a Dean’s Fellow and earned an MBA).

Adam Covati

Adam Covati

Both men worked for Bronto Software before taking the entrepreneurial leap.

“I wanted to build or join a startup and when Adam and I got together, we thought we could build a business around an idea he was working on.” They started with a handshake in December, wrote the first lines of code in February.

Boggs, who is among the many Internet entrepreneurs, executives, venture capitalists and thought leaders participating in the upcoming Internet Summit in Raleigh, Nov. 17-18, says the company’s product helps publish content on different platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs and so on. Everything can be done from a single dashboard, a real aid to anyone who has to deal with multiple content updates to multiple platforms daily or often.

Everything driven by measurement

But the key element of Argyle’s product, which is getting good reviews since its launch in April, is “Everything is driven by measurement,” says Boggs. That, he says, means marketers can track the progress of their messages and improve performance over time.

It measures conversions—probably the metric that interests marketers most—but also leads acquired, how many people download something, and more. “The market need we’re trying to address are businesses for whom social is a strategic channel and outcome or metrics driven,” Boggs says. While a lot of companies are using social media in incidental ways to have conversations with customers, others are using it to drive revenue and need more sophisticated tools to measure its effectiveness.

“It’s pretty obvious that social media is here to stay and has changed the way business and brands interact with their customers,” Boggs says. The imperative for many firms to have a blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts is becoming more common, he notes. Even small and medium-sized businesses are using it and want to understand how it impacts different areas of their efforts.

The current version of the Argyle product sells for $149 a month.

Boggs says Argyle Social expects to launch two other products this year, one for agencies and an advanced version, both enhanced versions of the core platform.

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