By 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.
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.
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.
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.