Posts Tagged ‘Durham’
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
SJF Ventures, which has offices in Durham, NC as well as in New York and San Francisco, conducted the final closing on its third fund with more than $90MM in capital commitments, tripling the size of the previous $28MM second fund.
The target for SJF Ventures III was $75MM and the fund was substantially oversubscribed at its final April closing. “We are honored that so many investors choose to join our partnership,” said David Kirkpatrick, SJF Managing Director and Co-Founder.
“We are particularly excited that a wide variety of bank, insurance, foundation, family office, pension, mutual fund, and individual investors have recognized that SJF’s impact investing strategy can yield above market financial and mission results.” SJF’s current, second fund is performing in the top quartile all US venture capital funds of its vintage year.
Invests in high growth companies
SJF Ventures invests in high growth, positive impact companies seeking expansion capital rounds of $1 million to $10 million.
SJF has invested in 36 portfolio companies over the last decade. “We realize SJF’s success is due to the exceptional results achieved by our portfolio companies such as Aseptia, BioSurplus, CleanScapes, Community Energy, eRecyclingCorps, Fieldview, Optoro, MediaMath, MedPage Today, and ServiceChannel,” said David Griest, SJF Managing Director. “We are eager to find the next set of great entrepreneurs for our third fund.”
SJF Ventures has a team of six senior investment professionals, based in offices in Durham, NC, New York and San Francisco, and invests nationwide. SJF has particular expertise and focus on the asset recovery, recycling & reverse logistics, energy & resource efficiency, intelligent infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and food, education, health and wellness sectors.
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/.
Thursday, February 28th, 2013
You can make connections with 50 high growth technology companies from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic as they present to hundreds of executives from the region’s innovation, entrepreneurial and venture communities at the Southeast Venture Conference March 13-14th at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, North Carolina.
In addition to presenting companies and hours of executive networking – the conference will feature a speaker line up inlcuding SAP CEO Bill McDermott, dozens of leading venture capital investors from groups like Advanced Technology Ventures, Intel Capital and Edison Ventures; industry insiders like Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard and policy makers such as North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.
This year’s confirmed presenting company line-up includes:
- addshoppers - Charlotte, NC
- AirSage - Atlanta, GA
- avidxchange - Charlotte, NC
- Badgy - Atlanta, GA
- blue nano - Charlotte, NC
- BoomTown - Charleston, SC
- BrightContext - Arlington, VA
- Bronto - Charlotte, NC
- Buystand - Durham, NC
- Campaign.io - Charlotte, NC
- CanDiag - Waxhaw, NC
- Clearleap - Duluth, GA
- dealcloud - Charlotte, NC
- deja mi - Raleigh, NC
- Digitalsmiths - Durham, NC
- Distil - Arlington, VA
- Entigral - Raleigh, NC
- Fitsistant - Durham, NC
- flomio - Miami, Florida
- Fotopigeon - Tampa, Florida
- Freebeepay - Atlanta, GA
- gematouch - Raleigh, NC
- Hinge - Washington, DC
- HireIQ - Atlanta, GA
- infina connect - Cary, NC
- Koupon Media - Frisco, TX
- nContact - Morrisville, NC
- Nextinput - Atlanta, GA
- PatientPay - Durham, NC
- PopUp - Raleigh, NC
- Punch Technologies - Charlotte, NC
- Respirion - Winston Salem, NC
- ReverbNation - Durham, NC
- Savveo - Charlotte, NC
- Sensory Analytics - Greensboro, NC
- Smart Sky Networks - Charlotte, NC
- Sweet Relish - Charlotte, NC
- t1 visions - Charlotte, NC
- Tales2Go - Washington, DC
- The Targeted Group - Charlotte, NC
- umatch - Greenville, NC
- Valencell - Raleigh, NC
- veenome - Arlington, VA
- viddlz - Charlotte, NC
- WealthEngine - Bethesda, MD
- Wildfire Connections - Charlotte, NC
- Worthpoint - Atlanta, GA
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.
In addition to the showcase presenters and hours of networking – SEVC 2013 will feature current market relevant panel and presentation topics for investors and executive entrepreneurs. These events sell out, so register now if you plan on going.
Panel & Presentation topics include:
- State of Venture Capital
- Early Stage Fundraising
- Value Creation: Company/Investor Relationship
- Growth Stage Funding
- M&A Outlook and Strategies
- LP Viewpoint
- SaaS Investment Trends
- Getting to Market
- IPO & Secondary Market Outlook
- Entrepreneur’s Roundtable
- International Health Care Trends
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.
Friday, December 7th, 2012
By Allan Maurer
Joe Davy, CEO of Buystand, which lets buyers set a price for active lifestyle products they want to buy.
Deals, deals, deals: discounts are the byword of online shopping these days, but usually, sellers are deciding how much the discounts should be. A Durham, NC-based startup, Buystand, wants to change that.
Buystand, says CEO Joe Davy, “Is the world’s first completely buyer-driven marketplace for active lifestyle clothing, equipment and footwear.” That includes everything from boots to mountain bikes and skis.
“Originally the brainchild of Ted Kraus and commercialized by Ted Kraus and Bill Brown at 8 Rivers Capital, which Davy says “works like an incubator for ideas, going through the patent process and funding them,” Buystand launched in beta about a month ago and already has hundreds of retailers, 250 brands, and thousands of customers signed up.
Davy, who joined the company after taking a course Brown, who is managing partner at 8 Rivers, taught at Duke University Law School, presented the company’s business plan at the Startup Summit that preceded this year’s Internet Summit in Raleigh, NC in November.
Innovative companies from early stage to pre-IPO looking for funding may want to apply to present at TechMedia’s next event, The Southeast Venture Conference in Charlotte, NC, in March. SEVC is now accepting applications.
Davy explains that at Buystand retailers let the buyer tell them what they want pay for certain products. That lets retailers see what their products are worth to buyers and lets brands see what they’re worth compared to their competitors’ products.
The retailer can decide at what price it wants to sell.
Control in the hands of buyers
“It puts control back into the hands of buyers,” says Davy. “There has never been a company before that let buyers come in and say what they’re willing to pay for a physical product, although it does happen in the hotel and travel markets. We’re inventing that model for products.”
Davy says this startup differs from many others – including the last one he ran – solve “What amounts to a big problem for a small number of people. They’re building a better widget or solving a very niche problem. What we’re doing appeals to a universal desire. It’s a much better way to shop, not just for a few people, for 90 percent.”
Customers already seem to like it. “People are using this multiple times a month. They’re not only happier when they pay the price they want to pay, but it translates into them spending substantially more money,” he says.
The firm has lots of room to grow. “It’s an $83 billion market,” Davy says. “And no one else is being innovative in the space right now. A lot of people are doing daily deal sites, but those crush brand equity and undermine the future sales of retailers.”
There are plenty of places to buy used products, he notes, including eBay and Craig’s List. “Buystand is for people who want a brand new product from retailer but don’t want to pay full price,” he says.
People have adopted it quickly, he adds. “We saw traction in just a few weeks,” Davy says.
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
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
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
Local digital advertising has been one of major new media strategies and having technology that automates the process is paying for Durham, NC-based Netsertive.
Netsertive, a fast-growing ad tech firm specializing in localized digital advertising and channel marketing technology, has closed $10 million in a combination of a $7.3 million round of Series B equity financing and a $2.5 million credit facility.
According to the Raleigh News & Observer, the company anticipates doubling its size by adding 60 more employees over the next 12 months.
Netsertive’s proprietary platform helps local businesses, multi-location retailers and product brands reach target customers in their respective local markets with automated digital marketing.
Local digital marketing expected to double
Local marketing spending in the United States totals more than $130 billion annually. According to research firm BIA/Kelsey, about $21 billion of that has already shifted to newer forms of interactive digital marketing, and that amount is projected to double to nearly $40 billion within four years, driving a massive market opportunity.
In addition, there is over $22 billion in co-op funding made available to local retailers, though a major portion of that goes unused or is deployed inefficiently.
Netsertive brings automation and efficiency to that $22 billion in co-op to unlock the power of co-branded performance marketing at the local level, and eliminate burdensome reimbursement processes for both the brand and the retail partners.
Standalone localized ad campaign automation
The company provides standalone localized campaign automation as well as its innovative Digital Co-Op system that combines brands and local channel partners in turnkey, cooperative online ad campaigns.
It applies its patent-pending technology in specific vertical markets including Audio/Video & Security, Home Goods, Automotive, Sports & Fitness, and Medical Practices.
“We have a simple vision: creating innovative technology to connect local consumers to products and businesses,” said Brendan Morrissey, CEO, Netsertive.
“We’ve tapped into a massive market that has gone largely unnoticed for years. Ninety percent of local purchase decisions are influenced by online experiences.”
Harbert Venture Partners, of Richmond, VA, led the equity round and was joined by existing Series A investors RRE Ventures and Greycroft Partners, both of New York City. Debt financing was completed with Square 1 Bank,Durham, N.C.
“We’ve watched Netsertive grow rapidly over the past three years, and we’re convinced that their team and technology is solidly positioned to be a market leader in the channel marketing and local digital advertising arenas, both large and growing markets,” said Wayne Hunter, managing partner with Harbert Venture Partners. Hunter, who has joined Netsertive’s board.
He added “We were particularly excited with their vertical specialization and channel marketing innovations that have attracted many notable brands to their platform.”
Moving to larger offices in the Research Triangle
“This latest round of financing enables us to continue expanding our capabilities, scale the business, and deliver more solutions for brands and local businesses that help them drive more revenue,” said Morrissey.
Netsertive secured a $4.5 million Series A round in late 2010. Since that time, revenue has increased seven-fold and they’ve hired more than 50 employees. The company expects to hire at least 60 more in the next 12 months to meet demand and extend its technology platform with more products.
As a result of its continued fast growth, Netsertive will be relocating to a larger corporate headquarters in RTP this fall.
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
By Allan Maurer
So, you’re at the big game and the Quarterback makes a startling play but your cell phone camera misses the crucial moment by an instant. Throughout the stadium, though, hundreds, perhaps thousands of other sports fans took photos. Don’t you wish you could see their pix?
If you had the Berst app on your phone you could.
Berst, founded last fall at the Triangle Startup Factory on the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, NC, is the brainchild of foudners Matt Ramsden and Caleb Foster.
“We had been working on things together and the idea came up after we were playing tennis one day,” Ramsden explains. “We thought it was a really big thing but also something we could use ourselves.”
Berst makes a mobile app for the iPhone and Android phones that makes it easy to connect with people around you. Unlike many such apps, everything it presents to the user is based on location.
Seeing their photos of the game
“If you’re at an NBA basketball game,” says Ramsden, you can call someone across the country, but not across the stadium.” He notes that you may not necessarily want to be friends with them, but you might want to see their photos from the game.
The same is true of concerts, weddings, and “a lot of experiences like that,” says Ramsden. “This is something we know will exist in the next few years. We want to be the ones who do it right.”
When you open the Berst app, he says, “The connection we use is location rather than friendship or interest.”
Users can, however, invite their Facebook and Twitter friends and those on other services to get the app.
“But with Berst,” Ramsden says, “Everyplace you move what you see is different and super relevant to you.”
So, if you’re at a baseball game, your friends in Rhode Island probably won’t care about the photos you’re taking, but the people at the game care a lot about that homerun that just happened. Berst removes the friction from people being able to do that (share photos, etc.).
Working on monetization
Ramsden says his partner, Foster, “Isn’t formally trained but he’s been coding since he was 10 or 12. He created a video game for his friends at 14. He was that kid.”
The app is currently free, but Ramsden says the firm is working on ways to monetize it. “The biggest thing for us now is to reach scale. The difference between 10,000 users and a million opens up a lot of ways to make money.”
While they’re currently focused on getting the app right and scaling up, Ramsden said they’re weighing their options regarding potential funding from outside sources.
“We think it’s a huge opportunity and market,” Ramsden says.
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
By Joe Procopio
Go big or go home.
I hear this phrase a lot lately. In some circles, it could be seen as a bubblicious mantra of a bunch of crazy kids looking to hit home runs by selling their social network startup to Facebook. In others, namely here in the RTP, it’s a battle cry for survival against the long odds of starting a company in this talent-rich, cash-strapped area.
But those odds just got a whole lot better.
Last night, longtime RTP startup ecosystem guru, former LaunchBox Director, and current TriangleTechTalk and TechJobs Under the Big Top founder Chris Heivly announced that a nice big bow had been put on a reboot of Triangle Startup Factory, the accelerator he merged into LaunchBox Digital when that accelerator swung south from DC back in 2010.
TSF will now host between five and seven startups twice a year, starting this spring, for intensive three-month programs chock full of capital, mentoring, connections, infrastructure, and, most importantly, a sizeable post-program runway.
That last one is the big news.
The Long Tail
I first met Chris back in 2009, looking for synergies between ExitEvent (at the idea stage) and the original TSF (pre-LaunchBox). We were both trying to solve the same problem: Baking a startup for three months, no matter how high the heat or how closely you watch it, was awesome, but didn’t account for the abrupt exit out into the real world of sustainability and customers. Especially not here, where the support structure was, at the time, non-existent, and even now, fledgling.
He had a much better handle on it, and talked about the creation of the long tail. In order for an accelerator to succeed here, there needs to be a much longer runway with a different-but-equal kind of support in place until the startup gets solidly onto its feet.
He’s still talking about it as of last night when we broke down the philosophy behind the new TSF. That long tail is what will differentiate the TSF program.
Going Big So They Don’t Go Home
Each startup gets the proper kickoff fuel: $50K in investment, access to a whole bunch of mentors and connections, space in Durham (TBD, by the way), and a big day at the end to show the world (and that’s the world, not just the RTP), what they’ve got.
But as a formal part of the program, TSF will offer a convertible note on the back end between $20K and $150K.
The sheer size of the initial investment figure and the convertible note puts TSF in the same stratosphere as TechStars and YCombinator. This will allow TSF to attract top-tier talent from around the country (maybe around the world) and, most importantly, keep them here.
And while the money is great, it’s up to us in the RTP to match that A-level program with the time, effort, and serious skills that make up the mentoring and the connections. In 2012, I believe we’re up for it. Finally.
Apart from the unique philosophy, another big difference will be the emphasis on a lean and agile methodology. In what Chris calls a 30% incremental difference from LaunchBox, the TSF program will run product focused, not business focused, and thus the messaging will be like very few accelerator programs as they are today.
Advice is what it is: Advice. I give it all the time, yet very few of my friends are rich enough to pay me back in Ferraris. Also, you don’t have to get too many mentors and entrepreneurs in a room before they start disagreeing about how to get to the next level. Usually these disagreements are solved on the ping pong table, but who has time for that?
The remedy for conflicting advice, repeats Heivly, is build, test, and iterate. It’s what the startup does with the advice that the startup can control and where TSF can assist. Chris feels like they did a good job of this with LaunchBox, but they need to do a great job of this with TSF.
Start Your Engines
Although there isn’t a focus on where the selected applicants will come from (although there is a limit on the type: no pharma, no medical devices, etc, we’re talking traditional tech plays), it’s certainly a boon for local entrepreneurs. It’s a huge incremental step forward for the area, and every single pre-funded startup should apply. It’s like you’re getting a head start on the rest of the country.
The application process is underway now at http://www.trianglestartupfactory.com and runs until they get their initial class, which begins on March 19th.
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.
Monday, December 12th, 2011
Artist's rendering of the American Underground space
The technology scene moves fast, but which innovations and trends have the staying power to change the way we live? Startup CEOs at Durham, North Carolina’s American Underground weigh in on the question below.
Gaming Transforms Learning – Jason Massey, Sustainable Industrial Solutions
“In 2012, we’ll see a focus on technology driving breakthroughs in our educational process…from early childhood development to college. That will range from early intervention for learning disabilities to the college textbook racket going the way of the dodo. For evidence, just look to Chegg or Kno on iPads
Technology, tools and models developed around the explosion of online gaming with companies like Zynga, the power of social networks like Facebook and the time/location shifting tutorials of Khan Academy are creating opportunities for highly scalable but highly personalized educational experiences.
We are seeing amazing breakthroughs in understanding the mind and learning patterns.
Now, we can leverage the engagement and stickiness of online games to achieve a ‘game-ification’ of the learning process that will allow for more meaningful, measurable successes. Great North Carolina companies like Lexercise are tackling dyslexia via online technologies.”
Trends in “behavior modification” via online games and experiences have the ability to transform our diets, smoking habits and treat our learning disabilities…go figure! Once a “bubble technology” deemed a “time waster,” these platforms will transform our educational experience.”
Blazing Access Everywhere – Keval Mehta, Jaargon
“LTE (Long Term Evolution) will revolutionize the next few years. Remember how great wireless was the first time you experienced it? You could take your laptop anywhere you wanted, except too far outside. LTE will allow you to finally stay connected anywhere you are with blazing speed.
LTE will disrupt broadband, cable, satellite and the way media is consumed. We will use LTE to tether internet to our cars and even homes, which will replace our broadband subscription.
Video and audio can be streamed without skipping and new heavy bandwidth applications can be created to push the limit of high speed connections.
Buffering would be a thing of the past. LTE would allow content developers to create even richer mobile and web applications that take advantage of this higher bandwidth user access.
For example, a user could download a Blu-Ray DVD in a few minutes at the airport before taking off on a flight. Most importantly, it will open up possibilities for entrepreneurs to create new ideas that may have not been feasible due to bandwidth constraints in the past.
Verizon and other providers are spending heavily and betting that LTE will be the disruptor that they expect it to be. Get ready to get on the autobahn of informational superhighways! Hope your battery can keep up.
De-Centralization Opens Up Innovation – Nick Jordan, Smashing Boxes
“De-centralization of information will be an important result we will hopefully see in the next three to five years as a result of large organizations embracing new technology and thus opening many more channels for people to use to communicate and contribute.
Savvy users have already embraced news ways in which to consume and create content , through hardware innovation like smart phones and tablets, and the platforms that are used to distribute content like Twitter and Facebook.
What we will see in the near future is more adoption of these trends from habitual laggards such as government and politics. Technology provides us the ability to learn about the issues, take action, be educated, and know that what we do and think matters.
I hope that politicians and government bodies embrace the possibilities for mass input on a large scale.
When they do, our country will see greater participation in public life, which will lead to more innovation, more dialogue, more accountability, and eventually a more prosperous nation and economy. Imagine the possibilities!”
Monday, September 12th, 2011
DURHAM, NC -The company that may put at least some journalists out of work, StatSheet, which sells real-time content automation, has raised a $4 million round of funding led by Court Square Ventures and OCA Ventures, with participation from IDEA Fund Partners and other existing investors.
In conjunction, the company changed its name to Automated Insights to reflect the broad applicability of its innovative technology to data-intensive verticals beyond sports where high content generation costs can make comprehensive coverage prohibitively expensive. The company’s sports offerings will continue to grow under the StatSheet brand.
“We believe this new corporate branding better reflects the long-term potential of our company, and underscores the value of our technology to any vertical with large amounts of structured data,” said Robbie Allen, the company’s CEO and founder.
Automated Insights’ technology transforms vast amounts of raw data into compelling narrative content and powerful visualizations. The content is written entirely by software and can be formatted as headlines, summaries, and long-form articles. In addition, the content can be published cost-effectively at just about any scale via the web, mobile applications, and all types of social media.
“Our technology has worked extremely well with sports, but it is also well suited to verticals such as finance, real estate and weather, or even sales productivity and business intelligence applications. In essence, our technology humanizes big data by automating knowledge and insight so the new name is a perfect fit” added Allen.
Automated Insights’ technology can be seen in action in its StatSheet sports content network. StatSheet currently powers fully-automated, real-time coverage of all 375 Major League Baseball (MLB) and NCAA Division I College Basketball teams via dynamically updated team-centric websites, iPhone and Android applications, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and e-mail newsletters. In September, the company will also launch team-centric sites and mobile apps for all 32 NFL and 244 NCAA Division I College Football teams.
“Automated Insights is revolutionizing the creation of compelling high-quality content and they have proven they can do it at scale through their StatSheet sports content network,” commented Randy Castleman, General Partner with Court Square Ventures. “We are excited to help them continue to grow their sports coverage and apply the technology to new verticals.
“We are thrilled to team up with such a strong management team and experienced investors,” noted Jim Dugan, CEO and Managing Partner of OCA Ventures. “We believe the timing is ideal for Automated Insights’ highly scalable content development solutions.”
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011
DURHAM, NC – Thirteen companies were selected to participate in The Durham, NC, Bull City Stampede 2.0, including companies from Washington, D.C., Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Morrisville.
The Stampede, which runs from Sept. 16 to Nov.18, offers 60 days of completely furnished, free space at 201 W. Main St., a Self-Help building. Participating companies will have access to technical assistance from startup experts as well as opportunities to network with founders of successful Durham startups.
This is the second time this year that the Stampede has been offered to startup companies. The Stampede is part of the Chamber’s broader economic development strategy focused on job creation through business recruitment and retention, workforce development, and startup growth.
Fifty-five startups from across the southeast and North Carolina applied for the Stampede. Applications were received from companies in Georgia and Connecticut as well as from cities such as Washington, D.C., Charlotte, and Wilmington. Concepts ranged from technology and software to cleantech and social entrepreneurship.
The companies that were not selected for the Stampede have already been connected to the many business resources available in Durham such as Bull City Forward, N.C. Institute for Minority Economic Development, Durham Technical Community College Small Business Center, CED, LaunchBox Digital, Joystick Labs, and the Small Business and Technical Development Center.
“This group of participants builds on the economic clusters and strengths of the Triangle,” said Klein. “We have companies in the cleantech and sustainability space, companies in technology and media as well as unique product concepts. These startups are all eager to grow and scale in North Carolina.”
Company descriptions are listed below:
- CityFabric: CityFabric is a civic-minded design and apparel company set out to inspire people to talk about their place.
- CleanHatch: (http://cleanhatch.com/) CleanHatch serves as the premier matchmaker for clean tech and renewable energy projects, leveraging a web-based clearinghouse platform to make it easy for projects to find the capital, developers, and incentives they need to launch quickly and efficiently.
- DiscoverLit: DiscoverLit provides on-the-go readers with an engaging, innovative experience in literature.
- GreenSky Wind Systems: (http://www.greensky-windsystems.com/) GreenSky Wind Systems delivers innovative, efficient and silent wind turbine solutions for commercial facilities dedicated to our planet.
- iBuzzn: iBuzzn is a software platform designed to disrupt the restaurant industry by introducing a customer focused mobile application that will enhance the overall dining experience.
- MotiveLogic: Constant Coaching™ is the culture created by the use of High Octane Business Performance Dashboards™ from MotiveLogic to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity from automobile dealer service departments.
- Organic Transit: (http://www.organictransit.com/) Organic Transit designs pedal/solar Hybrid Vehicles that produce zero carbon, fill the space between bicycles and cars and are intended for commuting and local deliveries.
- Pluribus: Pluribus makes it safer and easier to shop online with your debit or credit card.
- RxAnalytics: RxAnalytics is developing a web and mobile tool that will identify critical drivers of performance in individual athletes as well as weaknesses and biases, allowing the athlete to train smarter and maximize performance.
- Sqord: Sqord is a social gaming website where kid users can earn points and rewards through real-world play.Vybee.com: (www.vybee.com) Vybee.com is a way to find, share, and keep up with what’s going on in your local interests.
- Zeek: Zeek has digitized the coupon book, providing non-profits, schools, churches, and groups everywhere with a 21st century fundraising solution, all accessible from a smart phone.
For additional information and updates about the Stampede, go to
www.startupstampede.com or follow the Stampede on Twitter @StartupStampede.
Monday, July 18th, 2011
Adzerk Founder and CEO James Avery is the kind of guy you just sort of immediately feel a kinship with. It’s not because he’s filthy rich, although he is, or because he’s quick to give you a sticker, he’s got tons of them, it’s the fact that he’s a straight talker who always happens to know exactly what he’s talking about.
Example: At the recent Tech Jobs Under the Big Top job fair, when a dozen RTP startups got up on stage to present to roughly 250 job seekers, Avery showed a minute or two of the Startup Guys video, which then faded to black with the caption:
“Not all startups are full of ****.”
What Did He Just Say?
Huge laugh from the crowd, but this is exactly what Avery is about. It’s a joke, right? Or is it? I dig that. Plus he hired someone from that event, so obviously at least one other person dug it as well.
I feel a kinship with Avery because we took a similar path. We both got out of the corporate technology world and started one-person consulting practices that grew over time into larger and more successful consulting practices. Neither of us were ultimately happy, no wait, neither of us were fulfilled. Something was missing.
It was the startup thing.
So while I started shifting the focus of my practice to the startup world, Avery went out and started another company.
More specifically, he bought an ad network in 2007 which was bare bones, and he replaced it and built on top of it. In the beginning, he was only using it for himself, but then he started another vertical ad network and modified the software to run both of them, The Lounge and Ruby Row.
When he tried to start a third ad network, he realized that the software itself was a more compelling play than creating and running ad networks.
Now, there’s a long history of companies in the ad-tech industry trying to run networks and sell software at the same time, and usually the software part ends up becoming the ugly stepchild. You just can’t do both and have both be successful. So in December 2010, he sold off one of the ad networks and focused on the stepchild.
The RTP Startup Playbook
An office in American Underground came first. And when the Underground announced via Twitter that Adzerk was moving in, Avery got a tweet asking if he was hiring.
Now he had space, an engineer, and a little bit of runway. So when he saw how much of an impact those dollars made, he knew he needed more.
He ran the gamut of the RTP support structure, including the aforementioned job fair, the CED Venture Conference (although he knew everyone there), TechMedia’s Internet Summit (where he met the guys from Argyle, Spring Metrics, and JobKatch), Launch Durham (although he launched at Calacanis’ LAUNCH Conference), and even though he was too far along for Startup Stampede or Launchbox, he eventually hired three former Launchboxers.
Most every ad server has two fundamental problems. It’s likely built on 90s technology and it’s probably run by a big media company.
Adzerk is independent and based on current generation technology. And they innovate. Right now they have what Avery calls an “incrementally better ad server.” It’s faster, the ads get served asynchronously, stats are real time, all cloud based, scales quickly.
Some publishers care a lot about this, others don’t. So Adzerk has carved out a market where those features are differentiators. But Avery knows that having an “incrementally better” mousetrap is not enough.
So Adzerk is going after bigger game. They’re bucking the traditional model – enterprise software, contracts, etc. Thus, the pitch becomes “let’s change the way ad-serving works.”
Eight months go by. $650K seed round.
This is where the story gets a little funny, because out of that $650K Avery finished raising this month, exactly $25,000, or just a little under 4%, came from in-state.
Avery says he was naïve as every other first-time fundraiser, figuring he’d go to the people he knew, find the right ones at the right time, and get just what he needed to get to the next level. It took about a month before he realized he needed to talk to anyone and everyone who would pick up the phone. So he did.
That says two things. But neither of them is a soap-boxy “Local investors need to invest in more local companies!”
Santa Claus. What?
I’ve got a great analogy for this. This is like asking Santa Claus to quit bringing a bunch of presents every Christmas and instead just show up with one present on the 25th of each month.
I know. That one came to me in a traffic jam.
The frustrating thing about the RTP investment region is that we’ve got a bunch of investors and a bunch of startups but 95% of the time the goals of one do not match the intentions of the other, and vice versa.
When Avery and I discussed this, the lament wasn’t “Man, it would be cool if the local VCs would start investing their big bucks in early stage companies,” it was more like “Man, it would be cool if we had some apparatus here by which several early-stage companies could raise $100K on a standard term sheet.”
That’s the first thing. The second thing is a lot more hopeful.
Startup Investing Enters the 2000s
Adzerk’s path to funding is not unique. There have been a number of investments here lately that have involved money from the west coast, New York, pretty much everywhere, and it’s getting easier. During his fundraise, Avery left the area twice, and one of those trips was to shake hands with the lead before they signed the term sheet.
It’s a good tale, a no-BS founder product company with customers and revenue operates within a robustly-evolving support system to land seed-stage money and swing for the fences
Rinse and repeat, people.
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for sports media startup StatSheet . He also owns consulting firm Intrepid Company (http://IntrepidCompany.com) and creative network Intrepid Media and runs the startup social ExitEvent (http://ExitEvent.com). Joe can be reached via Twitter @jproco and read at joeprocopio.com.
Friday, July 15th, 2011
DURHAM, NC - Joystick Labs has named the first team who will participate in its 2011 Summer Underground program.
wefiends, a Los Angeles based developer founded by brothers Nick and Kevin Barrios, develop fun, creative, and original games that anyone can enjoy. They have just completed Sushi Boy Thunder, a free to play, lightning-fast arcade dodger for iPhone and iPad that features incredible action and fun at supersonic speed, unlockable outfits and characters, tilt and tap control, and an original soundtrack, and Game Center Leaderboards so players can compete with friends.
As part of Joystick Labs, wefiends will develop “We Make Movies”, an iOS game that places gamers in the role of Hollywood producer working against the deadline and budget to create the best movies. Players create their movie poster, use their time management skills to create the best movie, see the audience reaction – and share their results and compete against their friends.
Joystick Labs, founded in 2010, provides startup video game entrepreneurs a unique mix of early-stage seed funding, mentorship, services, and networking. Teams that participated in the Fall 2010 program will begin shipping their titles this summer.
“We were looking to become part of an accelerator program and were excited to find a program specifically for game studios,” said Nick Barrios, wefiends founder, “The opportunities and resources that Joystick provides will accelerate the development of our studio and our next title.”
Joystick has also announced that applications are once again open. Game developers can apply online now, and selected teams receive funding, mentorship and access to technology, office space and networking opportunities.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and Joystick Labs looks for teams who possess an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for their game idea. The best game concepts will be innovative and present an opportunity for commercial success.
For more information or to apply, please visit www.joysticklabs.com.
Thursday, July 7th, 2011
The success of mobile apps is one way to gauge the rapid growth of mobile devices used for work and play as well as communication. Apple Inc. says that 15 billion apps have been downloaded from its App Store by the more than 200 million iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users worldwide. The App Store offers more than 425,000 apps and developers have created an array of over 100,000 native iPad apps.
“In just three years, the App Store has grown to become the most exciting and successful software marketplace the world has ever seen,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. “Thank you to all of our amazing developers who have filled it with over 425,000 of the coolest apps and to our over 200 million iOS users for surpassing 15 billion downloads.”
“We sparked musical magic when iPhone users experienced Ocarina three years ago,” said Dr. Ge Wang, a Smule co-founder and assistant professor at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. “And now with iPad, we’ve created the Magic Piano and Magic Fiddle apps. Who could’ve dreamt an iPad would make its way into the San Francisco Symphony?”
“iPad provides us with an unparalleled mobile device for creating gorgeous, immersive games,” said Mark Rein, vice president and co-founder of Epic Games. “Infinity Blade has been a runaway hit with customers around the world and we couldn’t be more excited about our success on iOS devices.”
“We’re bringing Martha Stewart, Angelina Ballerina, Sesame Street and many more of the world’s most popular books and magazines to iPad,” said Nicholas Callaway, CEO of Callaway Digital Arts. “We knew the iPad was going to be a revolutionary storytelling device, but never could have anticipated it would become so popular, so quickly.”
More than 15 billion apps have been downloaded from the App Store and more than 425,000 apps are available, including more than 100,000 native iPad apps, to consumers in 90 countries.
Users of the more than 200 million iOS devices around the world can choose from an incredible range of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, education, sports, health, reference and travel. Apple has paid developers over $2.5 billion to date.
The success of Google’s Android smartphone operating system has spawned an increasing flood of apps for those devices as well and has placed Durham, NC-based Appia, with its app store, in an enviable position. The company raised $10 million from Venrock in March and was one of the few Southeast companies on The Wall Street Journal’s “Next Big Thing” list this year.