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Posts Tagged ‘Boulder’

Insect eye inspired distortion free wide-view camera lens

Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Dragonfly eyes

Dragonfly eyes inspire wide-field camera lens.

By mimicking the bulging, bowl-shaped eyes possessed by dragonflies, praying mantises, houseflies and other insects, a team of researchers that includes a University of Colorado Boulder engineer has built an experimental digital camera that can take exceptionally wide-angle photos without distorting the image.

To create the innovative camera, which also allows for a practically infinite depth of field, the scientists used stretchable electronics and a pliable sheet of microlenses made from a material similar to that used for contact lenses. The researchers described the camera in an article published today in the journal Nature.

Conventional wide-angle lenses, such as fisheyes, distort the images they capture at the periphery, a consequence of the mismatch of light passing through a hemispherically curved surface of the lens only to be captured by the flat surface of the electronic detector.

For the digital camera described in the new study, the researchers were able to create an electronic detector that can be curved into the same hemispherical shape as the lens, eliminating the distortion.

“The most important and most revolutionizing part of this camera is to bend electronics onto a curved surface,” said Jianliang Xiao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CU-Boulder and co-lead author of the study. “Electronics are all made of silicon, mostly, and silicon is very brittle, so you can’t deform the silicon. Here, by using stretchable electronics we can deform the system; we can put it onto a curved surface.”

Long sought goal

Creating a camera inspired by the compound eyes of arthropods — animals with exoskeletons and jointed legs, including all insects as well as scorpions, spiders, lobsters and centipedes, among other creatures — has been a sought-after goal.

Compound eyes typically have a lower resolution than the eyes of mammals, but they give arthropods a much larger field of view than mammalian eyes as well as high sensitivity to motion and an infinite depth of field.

Compound eyes consist of a collection of smaller eyes called ommatidia, and each small eye is made up of an independent corneal lens as well as a crystalline cone, which captures the light traveling through the lens. The number of ommatidia determines the resolution and varies widely among arthropods. Dragonflies, for example, have about 28,000 tiny eyes while worker ants have only in the neighborhood of 100.

Imitating the corneal lens-crystalline cone pairings, the camera created by Xiao and his colleagues has 180 miniature lenses, each of which is backed with its own small electronic detector. The number of lenses used in the camera is similar to the number of ommatidia in the compound eyes of fire ants and bark beetles.

Can use conventional manufacturing systems

The electronics and the lenses are both flat when fabricated, said Xiao, who began working on the project as a postdoctoral researcher in John Roger’s lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This allows the product to be manufactured using conventional systems.

“This is the key to our technology,” Xiao said. “We can fabricate an electronic system that is compatible with current technology. Then we can scale it up.”

The lens sheet and the electronics sheet are integrated together while flat and then molded into a hemispherical shape afterward. Each individual electronic detector and each individual lens do not deform, but the spaces between the detectors and lenses can stretch and allow for the creation of a new 3-D shape. The electronic detectors are all attached with serpentine filament bridges, which are not compromised as the material stretches and bends.

In the pictures taken by the new camera, each lens-detector pairing contributes a single pixel to the image. Moving the electronic detectors directly behind the lenses — instead of having just one detector sitting farther behind a single lens, as in conventional cameras — creates a very short focal length, which allows for the near-infinite depth of field.

The new paper demonstrates that stretchable electronics can be used as the foundation for a distortion-free hemispherical camera, but commercial production of such a camera may still be years away, Xiao said.

Competition for talent creating tech-oriented sub-markets

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Jones Lang LaSalleStrong growth in high-tech sector hiring and increasing  competition between firms for talent created new  tech-oriented submarkets around the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter of 2012, according toJones Lang LaSalle’s High Tech Industry Report.

“Despite high-tech’s relatively small footprint in office markets, accounting for just 8.5 percent of all jobs using office space, it has had a tremendous impact on the absorption of office space in the top five tech-oriented markets.

Additionally, the sector’s recent employment growth — roughly three times the overall U.S. employment rate – has begun to affect a growing number of other markets around the U.S. and Canada,” said Colin Yasukochi, Northwest Director of Research, Jones Lang LaSalle.

Top five markets see rent growth

Jones Lang LaSalle estimates that high tech accounts for nearly one-third of recent office market absorption nationwide.

The top five markets of Boston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Silicon Valley recorded annual rent growth across key tech-oriented submarkets between 16.8 and 57.9 percent in the first quarter.

“We’re now seeing strong evidence of the ‘high-tech effect’ spreading out beyond the five major markets as companies in the technology sector both expand their business models and engage in a vigorous battle to land new pools of talent.

This quest for more human capital is increasingly pushing firms to look outside traditional tech cities to set up new operations,” Yasukochi said.

The submarkets that saw positive annual rent growth in the period included Vancouver’s Yaletown submarket; Boulder, Colorado; downtown Pittsburgh; Washington, D.C.’s East End; and the West Loop submarket of Houston, Texas.

High-tech demand for office space, which has led to rent recovery in many markets adversely affected by the financial downturn, is now spurring speculative construction activity in the office sector for the first time in more than five years.

“In markets like San Francisco, where high-tech demand is intense and tenants have been snapping up creatively configured office environments, there are very few large blocks of space available to accommodate additional growth.

With rents rising, we are now at the point where new construction — for those with access to capital to build – is now coming to the drawing board,” Yasukochi said.

Recently, a New York-based developer announced plans to build a spec office tower in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, the first such development in the city since 2006.

Open Table names 100 U.S. restaurants providing best service

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

OpenTableBusiness travelers frequently need restaurants that have great food, but also good service, since they’re often on the run. If you’re looking for U.S. restaurants with top notch service, here’s some help from Open Table.

OpenTable, Inc. (NASDAQ: OPEN), a  provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants, has disclosed the 2012 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the 100 restaurants in the United States providing the best service.

Open Table founder Chuck Templeton is among the top speakers at the Southeast Venture Conference which started this morning in Tysons Corner, VA, and runs through tomorrow.  Templeton created and defined the restaurant reservation space after founding OpenTable in 1998, after his wife spent a frustrating evening one night trying to make dinner reservations for his visiting in-laws one night in San Francisco.

OpenTable’s successful IPO in 2009 was a milestone that helped to reopen the public market for tech companies.

Awards reflect millions of opinions

These awards reflect the combined opinions of nearly 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 12,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Regionally, the honorees span 29 states and Washington, D.C. The South reinforces the notion of southern hospitality, with 22 restaurants in the region being singled out for best service. The Northeast boasts 15 winning restaurants, including 10 in New York alone.

The Pacific region accounts for 14 winners, 10 of which are in California, as does the Mid-Atlantic, with six restaurants in Virginia claiming spots. Eleven winners come from the Great Lakes Region, four of which are in the Twin Citiesarea.

The Pacific Northwest and the Southwest follow with seven honorees apiece. The Rocky Mountain States count five winners, while the Central Plains has four, three of which are in Missouri. One restaurant in Hawaii also earned a nod.

American food restaurants rack up 40 winners

Superior service can be found across a number of cuisines. Restaurants serving American food, however, account for 40 winners. French restaurants earned 25 places on the list.

Steakhouses followed with 17 spots. Seven Italian restaurants are among the winners. Other cuisines include continental, global international, Japanese, seafood, and sushi.

“The most memorable part of a meal may not be just what’s on your plate, but also, that exceptional staffer who goes the extra step to ensure an enjoyable dining experience,” says Caroline Potter, OpenTable’s Chief Dining Officer.

“These winning restaurants understand this concept and have consciously created a culture of hospitality that is embraced by both front and back of house professionals. Whether it’s a grand gesture, such as a tour of the kitchen, or a simple one, like a warm smile from an attentive server, diners are coming away from these restaurants feeling special.”

The Diners’ Choice Awards for the top 100 restaurants providing the best service are generated from nearly 5 million reviews collected from verified OpenTable diners between February 2011 and January 2012. All restaurants with a minimum number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the highest average rating in the service category.

Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the top 100 restaurants with the best service in the U.S. according to OpenTable diners.

The complete list may also be viewed at

2012 Diners’ Choice Award Winners for Restaurants in the U.S. with the Best Service

Acqua Restaurant & Wine Bar – White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Acquerello – San Francisco, California

Addison at The Grand Del Mar – San Diego, California

Bacchanalia – Atlanta, Georgia

Bibou – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Binkley’s Restaurant – Cave Creek, Arizona

Bistro L’Hermitage – Woodbridge, Virginia

Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, New York

Bluestem – Kansas City, Missouri

Bones – Atlanta, Georgia

Cafe Renaissance – Vienna, Virginia

Canlis – Seattle, Washington

Capital Grille – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Castagna – Portland, Oregon

Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse – Downers Grove, Illinois

Charleston – Baltimore, Maryland

Charleston Grill – Charleston, South Carolina

Chez Francois – Vermilion, Ohio

Chez Nous French Restaurant – Humble, Texas

CityZen – Washington, D.C.

Congress – Austin, Texas

The Copper Door – Hayesville, North Carolina

Corbett’s Fine Dining – Louisville, Kentucky

Cyrus – Healdsburg, California

Daniel – New York, New York

Daniel-Lounge Seating – New York, New York

Del Posto – New York, New York

Dewz – Modesto, California

The Dining Room-Biltmore Estate – Asheville, North Carolina

Eleven Madison Park – New York, New York

Elizabeth on 37th – Savannah, Georgia

Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant – Forestville, California

Fat Canary – Williamsburg, Virginia

Fearrington House Restaurant – Pittsboro, North Carolina

Fig Tree – Charlotte, North Carolina

Forage – Salt Lake City, Utah

Fountain Restaurant – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Frasca Food and Wine – Boulder, Colorado

The French Room – Dallas, Texas

Genoa Restaurant – Portland, Oregon

Gordon Ramsay at the London – New York, New York

The Grill-The Ritz Carlton – Naples, Florida

Grouse Mountain Grill – Avon, Colorado

Halls Chophouse – Charleston, South Carolina

Hannas Prime Steak – Rancho Santa Margarita, California

Herons – Cary, North Carolina

Highlands Bar & Grill – Birmingham, Alabama

The Hobbit – Orange, California

joan’s in the Park – St. Paul, Minnesota

Kai-Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort – Chandler, Arizona

Killen’s Steakhouse – Pearland, Texas

The Kitchen Restaurant – Sacramento, California

La Belle Vie – Minneapolis, Minnesota

La Grenouille – New York, New York

La Mer at Halekulani – Honolulu, Hawaii

L’Auberge Chez Francois – Great Falls, Virginia

Le Bernardin – New York, New York

Les Nomades – Chicago, Illinois

L’Etoile Restaurant – Madison, Wisconsin

Madrona Manor – Healdsburg, California

Mahogany Prime Omaha – Omaha, Nebraska

Marcel’s – Washington, D.C.

The Melting Pot – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Menton – Boston, Massachusetts

Michael’s-South Point Casino — Las Vegas, Nevada

Mitchell’s Ocean Club – Columbus, Ohio

Morton’s The Steakhouse – Portland, Oregon

New York Prime – Myrtle Beach, Florida

Niche – St. Louis, Missouri

Nicholas – Red Bank, New Jersey

o ya – Boston, Massachusetts

Opus 9 Steakhouse – Williamsburg, Virginia

Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio

The Painted Lady – Newberg, Oregon

Palace Arms at the Brown Palace – Denver, Colorado

Peninsula Grill – Charleston, South Carolina

Pepper Tree Restaurant – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Per Se – New York, New York

Plume at the Jefferson Hotel – Washington, D.C.

Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse – Dallas, Texas

The Restaurant at Meadowood – Saint Helena, California

Restaurant Iris – Memphis, Tennessee

Rover’s – Seattle, Washington

Rudy & Paco’s Restaurant & Bar – Galveston, Texas

Russell’s Steaks, Chops, and More – Williamsville, New York

Ruth’s Chris Steak House – Jacksonville, Florida

Saint Jacques French Cuisine – Raleigh, North Carolina

Sedgley Place – Greene, Maine

Sonoma – Princeton, Massachusetts

St. John’s Restaurant – Chattanooga, Tennessee

The Steak House at Silver Reef – Ferndale, Washington

Tony’s – St. Louis, Missouri

TRU – Chicago, Illinois

Uchi – Austin, Texas

Uchiko – Austin, Texas

Vetri – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse – Las Vegas, Nevada

Vintage Tavern – Suffolk, Virginia

White Barn Inn – Kennebunk, Maine

Woodfire Grill – Atlanta, Georgia

Diners can also read more about the Diners’ Choice Awards for the Best Service restaurants in the U.S. by visiting OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter’s “Dining Check” blog.

TechStars, Microsoft offering startups $60K in Windows Azure cloud services

Monday, January 30th, 2012

TechstarsTechStars, recently recognized as the No. 1 startup accelerator in the world, and Microsoft Corp. are working together to help startups fast-track their businesses with free cloud services.

The enhanced program allows TechStars accelerators in Boulder, Colo.; Boston; New York; Seattle; and Texas to offer each of their startups up to$60,000  of Windows Azure compute and storage over a 24-month period, at no cost.

Interviewing entrepreneurs over the last few years for the TechJournal and hearing their pitches at TechMedia’s annual Southeast Venture Conference (next one slated for Tysons Corner, VA, Feb. 29-March 1), we know that the ability to operate via cloud services has enabled many tech startups to launch with much less capital then they needed previously.

Many use Amazon’s cloud, which eliminates the need for them to have significant in house infrastructure. It also makes software that only large Enterprise firms could afford just a decade ago, available to small and medium-sized businesses.

BizSpark Plus is an extension of the Microsoft BizSpark program, designed to accelerate the success of startups around the world. BizSpark Plus works through select incubators and accelerators such as TechStars to provide value-added products and services to high-potential startups.

In addition to offering this to TechStars, Microsoft is making this offer available to all founders whose accelerator is part of theGlobal Accelerator Network, a network of nearly 40 high-quality accelerators from around the world that follow a model similar to TechStars.

“Our passion is helping startups succeed around the world by providing funding and mentorship from the best and brightest Internet entrepreneurs and investors on the planet. The enhanced relationship with Microsoft will allow us to provide our founders with even more valuable support and services,” said David Cohen, founder and CEO of TechStars. “Access to technologies such as Windows Azure and other software and services from Microsoft through the BizSpark Plus program gives our companies a leg up in the all-encompassing race to scale and succeed.”

TechStars has a wealth of experience working with tech startups around the world that are building products and services in the cloud. Cloud applications and smart devices are driving the new startup ecosystem, affording startups the ability to drive user adoption, scale their companies and generate financial returns with far less capital and much more quickly than ever before.

Windows Azure offers a simple, comprehensive and powerful platform for the creation of Web applications and services.

Funded:, $200M; Rally Software, $20M; App47, $1M; ADmantX, $2.8M

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Rally SoftwareFUNDINGS – Boulder, Colorado-based Rally Software, which has offices in Raleigh, has raised $20 million in new funding led by Meritech Capital Partners. Meritech also backs Facebook,, Zipcar, Presidio, Broadsoft, and NetSuite, among other well known tech firms.

Rally sells Agile application lifestyle management. According to a study by QSM Associates, software-driven companies that rely on Rally’s Agile ALM products and services are 50 percent faster to market and 25 percent more productive than industry averages.

Rally acquired Raleigh, NC-based Sixth Sense Analytics in 2010 and is hiring to fill two engineering positions in the Raleigh office. It currently has 17 employees. Vice President of Products, Todd Olson is based in Raleigh. nabs whopping $200M round

Mt. View, CA-based, which provides digital coupons, has raised $200 million in new equity backing. The company did not name investors, but they’ll show up sooner or later in an SEC filing. It says up to $100 million of the funding will facilitate liquidity for employees and early investors.

Obviously, with Groupon, LivingSocial and a hoard of daily discount deal sites raking in venture backing of well over $1 billion, investors love anything to do with online discounts.

CT-based AdmantX gets $2.8M for semantic page-level analysis

AdmantxADmantX has closed a $2.8 million in growth funding from Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno, the venture capital Fund of Intesa Sanpaolo, an Italian bank. ADmantX sells cookieless tracking technology.

ADmantX offers an advanced semantic page-level analysis that surfaces reader emotions, behaviors, motivations and intentions in order to match ads with similar emotional appeal, without using tracking cookies. This is the first outside funding since ADmantX was spun off last year from Expert System, the leading global provider of semantic software.

ADmantX says it goes beyond relevant SEO and flat keyword-based terms, ensuring brand protection against questionable content for publishers, ad networks and various buy- and sell-platforms. It also incorporates emotional intelligence into the mix, increasing campaign segmentation and targeting for better ad reach and success.

Reston, VA-based App47 tallies $1M first round for mobile app development tools

App47 has raised $1 million in first round funding from Valhalla Partners. It closed the funding in January.

App47 says it delivers enterprise Mobile Application Management tools and intelligence to optimize the mobile user experience and provides a powerful, integrated, lifecycle view of mobile applications and the entire mobile user experience-without compromising the privacy of enterprise data.

Their cloud-based Mobile Application Management solution can be deployed in minutes, providing key analytics and performance data to assist in design, deployment, configuration, and security of mobile applications.

Founders are Chris Schroeder, CEO, and Sean McDemott, who earlier created RealOps, the pioneer in enterprise management Run Book Automation solutions, which was acquired by BMC Software in July 2007.

Schroeder saiys, “Our solution focuses on managing mobile applications, not devices, allowing enterprises to manage and automate highly complex, multi-tired mobility workflows. With App47’s powerful, context-aware tools and deep application intelligence, enterprises can ensure the best possible user experience for the mobile applications and unleash their true business value.”

The way mobile apps are thriving with only a third or so of cell phone users having smartphones bodes well for growth in the industry. One thing that sets mobile apart from the way the Internet developed is that people have been willing to pay for mobile apps from the start. The real question, of course, is how mobile app makers can develop ongoing revenue streams.

Still, we’re betting firms related to mobile apps will be coming out of the proverbial woodwork for the next several years. Any firm that helps developers figure out what works and what doesn’t and why is likely to do well, we suspect.

VirtuOZ gets $7M for intelligent virtual agents

VirtuOz  Inc., s provider of intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) for online customer service, today announced that it has raised $7 million in additional funding from existing investors Mohr Davidow, Inventures Group and Galileo Partners to finance growth in the U.S. and E.U.

The company says its intelligent virtual agents offer companies a new channel for contemporary online customer service that delivers the best possible customer experience at one-tenth the cost of traditional channels.

The company processed over 144 million conversations on behalf of our customers in 2010 and with the largest number of live enterprise intelligent virtual agents for Global 2000 companies including eBay, SFR, H&R Block and L’Oreal.

San Diego-based Skinit secures $12M debt financing for customized electronic devices tech

Skinitwhich sells on-demand personalization of electronic devices, and home and automobile products, has closed a $12 million in debt financing from BlueCrest Capital Finance. The funds will be used to expand Skinit’s current initiatives for delivering personalization capabilities to consumers and support the company’s continued growth.

Skinit’s online ordering and customization tools allow consumers to create branded, designed, and personalized electronic device covers.

The growth strategy includes expansion of Skinit’s fully branded ecommerce partner sites and promotional landing pages, as well as wholesale, retail and B2B solutions. It already features an extensive library of licensed artwork from some of the most prominent brands in sports and entertainment including NFL skins and MLB skins, major colleges and universities, Disney, as well as original Skinit designs and works from independent artists.

Virginia-based Three Pillar Global gets $10M for mobile software development services

Fairfax, VA-based Three Pillar Global has received a $10 million investment from Texas-based Nestors Financial.

The company said it will use fhte funds to sclae its operations, expand its global footprint and possibly pursue acquisitions.

Three Pillar Global offers a  flexible approach for clients through its innovative Virtual Development Centers that deliver transformative levels of productivity. The company, founded in 2006, has respected and leading customers in media, healthcare, education and financial services

LogRhythm taps in $4.9M for log management appliance

Monday, March 7th, 2011

LogRhythmWASHINGTON, DC- LogRhythm, a company formerly headquartered in DC but now in Boudler, Colorado, has raised $4.9 million raise from investors including Virginia-based Grotech, according to a regulatory filing.

The company sells an appliance with features that include log management and analysis, file integrity monitoring, event management, network and user monitoring, and geolocation tracking, this product can provide the detail needed for in-depth security event analysis. It helps firms comply with regulations and secure their networks.

The company disclosed the raise in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which cites Ray Croghan, of Longmont, CO-based Croghan Investments, Frank Mendicino III of Denver’s Access Venture Partners, and Joe Zell of Grotech Partners among the principals.

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First Startup America Roundtable set for Durham, NC

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Startup America PartnershipDURHAM, NC – In another move emphasing Durham, North Carolina’s growing reputation as a startup hub, the first Startup America: Reducing Barriers roundtable will be held in Durham, N.C., on March 3.

A second roundtable will be at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on March 12. The annual festival includes a focus on emerging technologies, which has made it an important destination each year for entrepreneurs and startup firms. More information on both of these events will be available in the coming days at

As part of the White House’s Startup America initiative, senior Obama Administration officials will visit eight cities to meet with entrepreneurs and hear directly from them on ideas and suggestions for reducing barriers and regulations to build a more supportive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation.

In January, President Obama issued an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to identify and take steps to reduce regulations that are outdated or overly burdensome to entrepreneurs. This roundtable series builds on that directive and is part of the Administration’s overall Startup America efforts to support for startups and entrepreneurs with tools and resources to grow America’s economy and win the future.

Using the input from the roundtables and broader public participation, the Administration will produce a report highlighting ideas to streamline and simplify unnecessary barriers to America’s economy and win the future.

The remaining roundtables are being planned in the following cities, with dates and locations still being determined: Boston, MA; Silicon Valley, CA; Atlanta, GA; Pittsburgh, PA; Minneapolis, MN; Boulder, CO. For small business owners and entrepreneurs who are not able to attend one of the roundtables, Startup America will provide the opportunity to submit ideas, comments and suggestions online to also be considered for inclusion in the final report.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in attending any of the events can learn more by emailing or by visiting

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Square 1 Bank CEO and founder, Richard Casey dies

Friday, November 12th, 2010
Richard Casey

Richard Casey

DURHAM, NC – Richard Casey, founder and CEO of Durham, NC-based Square 1 Bank, has died. The cause of death was not disclosed.

“Richard had immense passion for innovation and the entrepreneurial community. He believed this was the foundation upon which America was built and will continue to prosper.”

It noted, “Square 1 Bank was founded in 2005 by Richard and his wife Susan to help entrepreneurs succeed by creating a bank exclusively devoted to the unique needs of startups. Richard’s vision was to build a bank that was quick, flexible, accessible and high-touch, and run by highly-experienced talent who understood the needs of entrepreneurs,” Square 1 said in a statement.

Square 1 now has 10 offices throughout the United States and $1.2 billion in assets. Headquartered  in Durham, it also has offices in Austin, Bsoton, Boulder, McLean, New York, San Diego, Santa Monica, Seattle, and Silicon Valley. Square 1 is a full service commercial bank exclusively  serving the financial needs of the venture capital community and entrepreneurs in all stages of growth and expansion.

Bob Keith, Square 1 Bank’s Lead Director, said “Richard was an inspiration to his family, employees and the larger entrepreneur community. We will work tirelessly with the experienced management team that Richard built to honor his legacy and continue to grow an institution that supports entrepreneurs whose efforts drive innovation and economic growth.”

Casey is survived by his wife Susan, his daughter Leigh and his father, John.

Services will be held Saturday, November 13, 1:00 PM at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Southern Pines, North Carolina. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Richard J. Casey Foundation whose mission is to promote the entrepreneurial spirit in America; c/o Square 1 Bank, 406 Blackwell Street, Suite 240, Durham, NC 27701.

TechStars Brad Feld and David Cohen Do More Faster in Durham

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

By Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

Joe Procopio

I’d like to take a moment to publicly dispel the myth that I keep a small apartment in the back of Bay 7 at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. For the last time; a futon, a blacklight, and a hot plate do not constitute a residence.

But could you blame me if I did?

American Tobacco is quickly, and I mean quickly, becoming the entrepreneurial hub of the RTP. I remember working for a company there some years ago, at the very inception of the campus, and it was evident even then how much energy was coming out of the joint.

Fast forward to Monday night, when Bay 7 was the venue for an evening with Brad Feld and David Cohen from TechStars in Boulder, promoting (lightly) their new book, Do More Faster, who themselves remarked at the coolness of the place and the enthusiasm of the crowd.

It was like an intimate theatre rock show for nerds.

Listen More Harder

Last Friday, I dropped by the American Underground, the hub-within-a-hub of the campus. And when I say “dropped by,” I mean I was there to scarf leftover box lunches and play the sweet “Kung Fu Master” coin-op game they have hidden away down there.

I bumped into Chris Heivly from LaunchBox and Adam Smith from Square 1, who were sponsoring the evening, as they were putting the finishing touches on the setup for Brad and David’s talk.

It was pretty obvious by that point how big an event this was going to be, but it was also obvious how perfect the timing was. American Tobacco has pretty much come of age, and Monday’s entrepreneur night should no doubt be the first of many similar events there.

But I still find that I have to qualify statements like that with other statements along the lines of “just because it’s a hub, doesn’t mean it’s an island.” A hub has spokes, and those spokes extend not only through Durham, but into Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Morrisville, Cary, etc. I’m an outsider. I like being on the outside. That’s the reason I don’t have said apartment in ATC. Well, that and the credit check.

Ego Books and Consulting Books

And speaking of outsiders, Feld and Cohen have that aura of outsiderness. I first heard Brad Feld at a panel at an investor conference earlier this year. He stuck out exactly like what he was – the only guy on the stage not in a suit.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. That conference happened to be the only other time I wore a suit this year (a necktie is like the man slowly strangling me, blah blah blah…)

You also couldn’t find nicer guys.

The first few moments of the evening were spent talking about the book and how it came to be. Brad mentioned that there are two kinds of books in the startup genre: Ego books, those written by entrepreneurs with one or more successful exits and that read more like a memoir, and Consultant books, written by non-entrepreneurs who spend a lot of time consulting for entrepreneurs.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with either of these. My ego book is going to make my consultant book look not shameful at all.

Straight Outta Colorado

Do More Faster is neither. It’s written with insight from Brad and David mixed with advice from many of the companies that have been through TechStars. However, I’m not going to review the book. There are more better places for that and besides it’s not my thing.

But here are the points form the evening, which was mostly Q&A, that I wholeheartedly agreed with (there’s my thing).

Should I work for a startup first or just start a company?

The short answer is yes. If you’re dying to work in the startup community but don’t have the idea or haven’t found the passion required to suffer through getting your company off the ground, go work for a startup. Otherwise, don’t let any notions of lack of experience get in your way.

What are the ingredients for a successful entrepreneurial community?

First and foremost, it’s a shared desire by a whole bunch of people (an allusion to all of us in the room) to see said community happen. But you also need leaders, about a dozen, they said, who are willing to put in a 20-year commitment. Not three, not five, not ten.

Feld asked if there were any leaders in the room. No hands went up and, seriously? That’s not a good sign. But maybe no one wanted to risk the douchery of labeling themselves a leader. Oddly enough, the people who identify themselves as leaders rarely are. I learned this from watching Survivor.

Oh, you also get voted off for that.

Another ingredient is a pay-it-forward mentality – openness, sharing, giving — at all levels of the food chain. I actually think RTP has this in spades, but you have to know where to go to find it.

How do we keep successful companies here?

This was my favorite question. It was also my favorite answer.

Embrace failure.

The companies will stay here if the entrepreneurs know that they can fail and start over. And while I have a whole other column lined up dealing with failure, when they mentioned this concept, it immediately struck me as something we in the RTP don’t do well.


Failure still has a stink to it in the RTP. I think part of it has to do with the fact that the beginning of the entrepreneurial renaissance here coincided with the dot-com bubble. So when the first failures happened here, the same sort of hand puppet stigma was attached to them. And maybe that’s the only way we know how to deal with failure.

So it’s up to today’s entrepreneur to find new, fantastic, mind-blowing, cosmic and utterly unbelievable ways to fail. And it’s up to the entrepreneurial community, the one we want so bad, to let them.

Joe Procopio is a technical, management, and product development consultant who has worked with startups for years and started a few of his own. Several of them were failures, but mostly just emotionally. He can be reached via twitter @jproco.

New venture fund with ties to Boulder Ventures raises $1M

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Boulder Ventures logoCHEVY CHASE, MD – A new venture fund called Observatory Capital has raised $1 million from 11 investors, according to a regulatory filing.

Boulder Ventures Partner Jonathan Perl is named in the filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission disclosing the raise.

Perl, who focuses on early-stage IT companies was formerly a partner with Durham, NC-based Intersouth Partners.

Boulder Ventures has offices in Chevy Chase and in Boulder, CO. It invests in early-stage, startups and and emerging growth firms, mostly in IT and life sciences.