Posts Tagged ‘Research Triangle’
Monday, September 9th, 2013
Mike Elliot of Noro-Moseley Partners
RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – The CED’s annual Tech Venture Conference has acquired new energy with a format that speeds about 50 young startup companies through lightening demo rounds, says Noro-Moseley’s Mike Elliott, a managing partner in the Atlanta venture firm.
“You spin through a number of presentations and never have a chance to get bored,” he says of the three-minute rounds. “They leave you wanting just a bit more.” For a startup, that’s a good way to initiate contact with an investor: leave them wanting more.
Set for September 17-18 at the Raleigh Convention Center, the annual event draws some of its new energy from the vibrant and growing early startup hubs in the Triangle’s three cities.
Bustling startup hubs in the RTP
“Today, especially in downtown Durham, but also all over Raleigh and Chapel Hill we’re seeing tremendous activity from early-stage startups,” says Elliott. That fact has shaped this year’s focus, as well, he adds.
“What both the startups and investors need is to take companies to the next level and we tried to theme the conference in that direction this year,” says Elliott. “You’re up and running, how do you kick it into growth,” he adds.
To bolster that theme, the event features “A number of CEOs who began life at very early stage companies and were able to find the right switches to hit and push them into high growth mode.”
Those include Mike Cote, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based SecureWorks, which was acquired by Dell in 2011; David Morken, co-founder and CEO of Triangle-based Bandwidth; and Mark Norman, president of Zipcar.
Elliot, however, points out that the entrepreneurs and investors will also hear from top corporate development people from Red Hat, Google and other firms, to “Get a clear picture of the characteristics they’re looking for in partners or acquisitions and how you can set your company up to grow inside a company like theirs.”
Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Justin Miller says there is more to the recent $1.1 million funding round for his Raleigh-based startup WedPics than money. “It’s a win for the area,” says Miller, who founded the company originally known as “Deja Mii” near the end of 2010.
The company, which created a free photo sharing app for wedding couples and guests, is not in the Research Triangle area’s sweet spot, Miller says.
“While North Carolina is a rather abundant place for startups,” Miller says, “they’re often overshadowed by the presence of Fortune 100 companies and the typical startup pre-funding here is for revenue producing B2Bs. The traditional investors in this region run from anything else such as social media and pre-revenue B2C.”
Miller and his 12-person crew refocused WedPics, changing more than the name. Originally started with an early revenue model, the firm dropped that to focus on user acquisition for a free service that is data and analytics backed.
Because of that, the company presented potential investors with data-backed forecasts. It convinced them – although it took nine months, Miller notes.
Lands oversubscribed round
In mid-April, it closed an oversubscribed $1.1 million round comprised of a diverse group of strategic local and nationwide investors. The round was ded by the Brenden Family Growth Fund and including Bob Young (Red Hat Co-founder, Lulu.com Founder); Jed Carlson (Reverbnation Co-founder); Henry Copeland (BlogAds CEO); Chandler Rose (ProVantage Corporate Solutions Founder); Alex Osadzinski (former Trinity VC); Culin Tate (Co-Founder ofMissNowMrs.com); and TAP (Triangle Angel Partners).
Miller explains, “From our initial launch as deja mi – the location based photo/video sharing platform which was often pitched as a theoretical idea of what it might be able to do – pivoted to a data and analytically backed platform, which has disrupted the traditional wedding space in a big way. We currently have over 130,000 users and acquire 1400+ daily, with over 1200 weddings per weekend, and sharing over 100,000 photos each week (1 every 6 seconds).”
While many other photo apps died off, WedPics “Applied its technology to a niche market and capitalized on it,” Miller says.
He expects the company will be back on the fund-raising trail again soon and eventually should be a “cool acquisition play for a larger company,” he says.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Washington, DC made this years list of the top ten cities for private tech M&A at number 7.
PrivCo has released rankings of the Top U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A, based on the number of private tech companies acquired in 2012.
PrivCo has provided its Exclusive Top 10 Ranking below, with Silicon Valley ranking as the #1 metro area with 226 private tech company acquisitions in 2012.
Ranked just behind it were New York (Ranked #2) & Boston (Ranked #3).
San Diego, Research Triangle miss top ten
Interestingly, up-and-coming tech hubs like New York City, Los Angeles, and Atlanta are challenging traditional leaders like Raleigh-Durham’s “research triangle” and biotech hub San Diego, who missed this year’s Top 10 U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A.
Top 10 U.S. Cities For Private Tech M&A in 2012
(Ranked By Total Number of U.S. Private Tech Companies Acquired in Each Metro Area)
1. Silicon Valley
2. New York
4. Los Angeles
7. Washington, D.C. (Arlington)
To access PrivCo’s 350 page 2012 Private Tech M&A Industry Report:
Thursday, February 21st, 2013
William McDonough, winner of two U.S. Presidential awards for environmental sustainability, is teaming with Cherokee to support environmental startups through the Cherokee-McDonough Challenge.
Based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, the Challenge is designed to identify, fund and develop high impact environmental startups.
Now accepting applications, the Challenge is sponsored by Cherokee, an investment fund manager and globally recognized leader in environmentally sustainable business practices.
McDonough, co-author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) and The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability — Designing for Abundance (2013), will partner with an advisory committee of experienced entrepreneurs and investors to counsel the Challenge entrepreneurs.
Challenge will invest in five startups
“The Cherokee-McDonough Challenge is important because it encourages and empowers solutions to the massive environmental challenges that face our world,” says McDonough.
Now entering its third year, the Challenge will again invest in three to five high impact environmental startups.
Each venture will receive:
- $20,000 in seed funding
- free office space for three months in Raleigh, NC, (a focal point in the renowned Research Triangle)
- complimentary back office support from Cherokee Investment Services, including help with incorporation, accounting and IRS compliance
- hands-on mentoring from an advisory committee of experienced entrepreneurs and investors
- an opportunity to present to other investors and the public
Cherokee-McDonough Challenge portfolio companies should finish the summer with a working prototype, a refined and vetted environmental strategy, a professional web presence, knowledge of intellectual property strategy and tactics, investor-ready fundraising documents, a stronger network of investors and mentors, a polished pitch and a runway towards a Series A capital raise.
For more information, visit www.cherokeechallenge.com or email JT Vaughn email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, January 18th, 2013
If it seemed harder to raise money last year, it was. Venture capitalists invested less money in 2012 than in 2011, the first such decline in three years, according to the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) and PricewaterhousCoopers MoneyTree report.
In the Research Triangle, NC, which has bustling startup hubs in Durham, Raleigh, and Cary, companies raised less money than in any year since 1997, despite something of a rebound in the second half of the year.
Analysts say economic uncertainty and volatility as well as Facebook’s less than stellar IPO performance contributed to the caution on the part of VCs.
Venture funds invested $26.5 billion in 3,698 deals in 2012, a 10 percent decline in dollars and 6 percent drop in the number of deals.
Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA, however, looked on the bright side, saying that fewer funds and deals will lead to “a more disciplined environment,” in which better companies will get funded and many “me-too” firms copying other successful companies will not.
The full set of statistics are on the NVCA web site.
Friday, November 16th, 2012
Artist’s rendering of the new Durham @Main Street site for startups, expected to be ready by spring.
Durham, North Carolina is expanding it’s increasingly vibrant startup ecosystem.
The American Underground — located near the Durham Bulls baseball stadium, is expanding to a downtown space custom designed for early stage startups.
The Research Triangle area, long known as a top U.S. technology hub with tenants such as IBM, Cisco, Glaxo Wellcome, RTI and others, has also generated startups that became industry leaders such as SAS, Red Hat, Bandwidth and Quintiles. Not only Durham, but Cary and Raleigh are also evolving strong startup support systems.
The new Durham space, located at 201 West Main Street, the new space is an extension of the award-winning American Tobacco Historic District, home to the original Underground hub as well as many sizable mature companies, and strategically located between Research Triangle Park and world-class universities.
Space for 50 startups
Underground @Main Street, as the expansion hub is known, weighs in at 22,000 square feet with room for about 50 startups (see list below of already-committed companies).
The space — expected to open in the spring — covers two floors and will employ lessons from around the tech world to foster the collaboration, learning, and connections young companies need to thrive.
The City Center building at 201 West Main Street, owned by Self-Help, has a history of hosting entrepreneurial initiatives including the Bull City Startup Stampede and now houses prominent technology companies PathCentral and Blogads.
The new @Main Street site adds to Durham’s growing startup hub, which already boasts close to 100 early stage companies in residence, The Triangle Startup Factory accelerator, and packed networking events.
Partners put muscle in the ecosystem
Underground leaders recruited regional partners, including the Research Triangle Park Foundation. Says CEO Bob Geolas: “We believe in investing in the entrepreneurial community and we are committed to making those investments and partnerships work. RTP is focused on regional entrepreneurship that will create more jobs and educational opportunities for our state.”
NC IDEA — a catalyst for young, high-growth, North Carolina tech companies — will sponsor relevant content for entrepreneurs via events, networking and other programming. University partners include Duke, NC Central, NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. More information on their plans is coming in early 2013.
Bandwidth, a Triangle-born company that has grown into one of the nation’s largest telecommunication providers, and Yealink will equip startups at @Main Street and @American Tobacco with complimentary phone systems.
“Bandwidth and Yealink believe in the revolutionary power of startups,” says Bandwidth marketing chief Noreen Allen. “As they grow and succeed, we want to be right there supporting them.”
Growing Ecosystem Earns Broad Community Support
Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative is another key supporter. The program seeks to coordinate and enhance the university’s capabilities in education, research and translation to enable both commercial and social entrepreneurship.
“American Underground will help us reach an important goal — connecting Duke with the vibrant community of entrepreneurs in Durham,” said Eric Toone, the new director of the university’s Initiative.
Self-Help Vice President Tucker Bartlett noted, “The Underground @Main Street fits well with our 30-year mission of fostering small businesses, and empowering communities to provide broader opportunities for everyone. The redeveloped City Center building has been key in helping revitalize downtown Durham, and we look forward to the birth and growth of more successful ventures here.”
@Main Street’s roster of startups already includes Sqord, Archive Social, StartupSpot, Pluribus Systems, Green Plus, Synchear, Impulsonic, Mint Market, SalesTags, Privateer Digital Media, SongBacker, Thryv, iKlaro, HaitiHub, and PlusDelta Technologies.
Interested companies should visit www.americanunderground.com to apply for space @Main Street.
American Underground infograpic
Video about the Durham entrepreneurial ecosystem
A list of Durham-based startups with Web addresses
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
By Joe Procopio
What do you get when you put 100 geeks in a room with computers and tell them to create whatever they want? I’d go with a Weird Science reference, but today’s geek hadn’t been born when that movie hit the theaters.
Durham startups Adzerk and Shoeboxed have joined forces with the American Underground startup hub and the Durham Chamber of Commerce to put on Epic Hack Day, a full day of no-rules creative coding with no stated goal other than to build something cool.
It’s Saturday, September 8th in the American Underground, and will run from 10:00 a.m. until early the next morning. All the essential fuel will be provided, including beer from local startup-friendly brewery Fullsteam.
This Needs to Happen
The lead organizer is Adzerk founder and CEO James Avery, who has been an entrepreneur-fixture in the booming Durham startup ecosystem over the last few years. Participating in almost every value-add event in the Triangle (and some non-value-add, I mean, the guy has a life) from Tech Jobs Under the Big Top to Southern Capitol Venture’s eSeries, Avery decided this event needed to happen, and quickly put the foundation together.
The concept of the company Hackathon is not new. You’ll find it everywhere from local startups — Automated Insights and Shoeboxed were two that got some mention — to Fortune 500 corporations looking to gain a technical and creative edge by letting their employees improvise and innovate and then rewarding the best concept.
But this is a first for the Triangle. Epic Hack Day is not limited to a single entity like a company hackathon, it’s not centralized around a specific language like a user-group hackathon, nor is the ultimate goal to create a viable company like a Startup Weekend.
“The idea is simple,” says Avery. “Let’s get 100 coders and designers together for 12 hours of work on fun and interesting projects. Think of it like a Startup Weekend but without any of the structure or pressure to ‘create a company.’”
All of the Tech, Twice the Fun
I know Avery, and I know he likes to push the edges of a concept enough to make it fun. At the aforementioned Tech Jobs under the Big Top, his recruiting video was the only other one I considered funnier that our own, and at the second version, he went with a straightforward approach that combined technology with showmanship.
He also delivered one of the best lines of advice at eSeries when he told an entrepreneur who had been banging her head against the wall trying to find affordable tech talent to get online and learn enough code to get through her prototype.
He knows why it’s fun to be a startup employee, why it’s cool to be a coder, and why it’s important to embrace technology beyond the standard development lifecycle.
For Coders By Coders
Shoeboxed is also a player in the startup ecosystem, contributing to and being a part of several of the local community-building events. Their last hackathon was a multi-company affair, and they plan on staging another in the not-too-distant future.
Make no mistake, though, this is technology-based. Everyone will be there to get their hands dirty – well, as dirty as you can get on a keyboard. There will be snacks, so there you go.
If this sounds like your kind of thing and you have Saturday free, you can register for Epic Hack Day here. I’ll be super curious to see what comes out of this, how it can be used, and who will run with it.
Joe Procopio (@jproco) heads up product engineering for automated content startup Automated Insights, which is also StatSheet. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent,. You can read him at http://joeprocopio.com.
Friday, August 24th, 2012
It can be tough for tech start-ups to recruit engineering and science students for internships and jobs without brand recognition. The Readyforce Hacker Tour 2012 is intended to help remedy that via an eight-week national bus tour designed to connect students and startups.
The Hacker Tour includes campus career fairs, CEO/CTO speakers, meetups, coding competitions and “maybe a party or two.”
It will stop at schools across the country, many in tech hubs from the San Francisco Bay Area to The Research Triangle, NC. It will visit Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Other stops include Boston, Austin, and San Diego.
Stops on the Hacker 2012 Tour:
Companies invited to sign-up
Readyforce invites companies interested in joining Hacker Tour 2012 to learn more and register at: www.hackertour2012.com.
Sponsors include early stage companies like Red Owl Analytics, Codeacademy and Quixey and later stage organizations like Etsy and Sonos.
It seems to be helping start-ups looking for talent.
“Partnering with ReadyForce on the Hacker Tour will expose ZestFinance to thousands more students across a much more diverse set of universities than we would be able to accomplish on our own,” says Adam Redlich, Head of Talent Acquisition at ZestFinance.
“At Elance, we create opportunities for students to work for themselves while they build an online portfolio that gives them an edge in the competitive job market,” said Rich Pearson, Chief Marketing Officer, Elance. “We are excited to be a part of the inaugural Hacker Tour because it is a unique way to tell students about a unique job opportunity.”
“At SoundCloud, we are always looking to hear from talented and motivated individuals across all disciplines, so sponsoring Readyforce’s Hacker Tour represents a natural fit for us,” said Eric Wahlforss, CTO and co-founder, SoundCloud.
Colleges like the program
Colleges and universities are also enthusiastic.
Corbett Morgan, startup analyst at the Technology Commercialization & Knowledge Transfer Office, The Ohio State University, says, “Readyforce is the progressive, soon to be widely adopted, method for students to interface with startups; the Readyforce Hacker Tour makes this opportunity tangible.”
He adds, “Telling a talented student, ‘Startups want you and your skills. They are coming to you and they want to meet YOU,’ is a powerful message and undoubtedly bridges the disconnect inherent in the outdated apply-online recruitment method.”
Thursday, August 11th, 2011
U.S. business journalists — who keep their fingers on the economic pulse of their local communities — said they expected business conditions in their areas to improve in the next six months, according to a new survey commissioned by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.
In a phone survey of 300 business journalists conducted nationwide in mid-July, many described their local economies as suffering:
- One in three said business conditions were bad.
- Four out of 10 said jobs were hard to get.
But most expressed optimism that their local economies would improve, with only 6 percent saying they expected things to worsen in six months.
When asked about their local housing market, one in four said the residential real estate market was better now than six months ago. Only one in 10 thought it would be worse in six months.
Conditions were toughest in the West, where half the business journalists said their local economies were bad and jobs were hard to get.
In Atlanta, too, Rachel Tobin, commercial real estate reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution was not so optimistic. She said:
“In Atlanta, our economy really isn’t improving, and signs only point to things getting worse:
- Unemployment ticked up again to 10.5 percent in June – which is above the national average.
- Housing prices dropped again. (We have now lost about 13 years of equity in our homes.)
- The commercial real estate vacancy rate rose again, to 17.2 percent, according to CoStar Group.
- Very few jobs are being created. When few jobs are created, that means there’s less demand for office space and homes.
“To be sure, Atlanta’s economy is diverse – it still has many Fortune 1,000 headquarters, from Home Depot and UPS to Coca-Cola and SunTrust Bank. The hope is that once the economy begins growing again, Atlanta will reap the benefits. But that time can’t come soon enough for the unemployed workers here.”
In Seattle, economics columnist Jon Talton of The Seattle Times said business conditions are mixed. “Apartment construction is rebounding: I can see four cranes out my window for high-rises now,” he said, but “many small businesses continue to struggle with weak consumer spending and tight credit.”
Pamela Yip, personal finance writer for The Dallas Morning News, agreed on the mixed picture. “Dallas-Fort Worth added more jobs than any other U.S. metro area during the six months ending in June,” she said. “But…unemployment is 3.6 percentage points higher than it was three years ago.”
In North Carolina, major technology companies such as IBM, among others, have shed thousands of jobs, state budget problems will result in cuts in state employment and education, and the state’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average at nearly 10 percent (9.9 percent in June 2011). Things are a bit better in the Research Triangle. Unemployment in Durham and Wake Counties where the educational level is particularly high, is at 8.3 percent.
Personally, I’ve been covering business for a variety of publications since the 1980s – including two business journals and three online technology news sites, including the TechJournal. While there are upsides to the U.S. economy that may be under-reported, the recent debt ceiling debacle, stock market volatility, and the continuing reluctance of financial institutions to lend small businesses money, make recovery look like a long, slow process.
On the other hand, the U.S. economy has often shown surprising powers of recovery. What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Is this economy poised to get better or will it be treading water for an extended period?
The full survey report includes an interactive map and an additional video.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
Business Journalists Study 2011 (PDF) was conducted by the Behavior Research Center Inc., using questions similar to those for The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Survey.
The phone survey conducted July 18-21 has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent. Neither Talton nor Yip were among the 300 randomly selected business journalists surveyed, who came from print, online, broadcast, wire services and freelancing.
“Analysis of Business Journalists Survey on their Local Economies 2011” from Reynolds Center on Vimeo.
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Artist's rendering of the American Underground space
RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – As new media companies roll out billion-dollar IPOs, four CEOs from the American Underground, an RTP startup hub, weigh in on whether the enthusiasm is on target or out of control. Their differing opinions reflect the national debate. Some say yes, some say no.
Jason Massey, Sustainable Industrial Solutions:
“We are ABSOLUTELY in a new tech bubble! Anyone that tells you different is financially benefiting from it or was not around for the last Internet bubble.
“Having been in venture capital through the last boom and bust the signs are almost identical from the last bubble. While the funding vehicles are a little different, you still see ‘late stage’ investors clamoring to get into hot deals.
“But instead of trying to get into a rush of IPOs, investors are buying shares through secondary markets. In the last bubble you had undergraduates running incubators. Today, you see some undergrads doing venture capital work.
“It is not all bad. As with the last bubble you had significant innovation survive the nuclear winter. You will see the same in this bubble. There will be innovation that improves quality of life. Whether that is something like Zynga’s Farmville or Twitter it may still be a bit early to see who survives this shakeout but you are seeing the positive affects of Twitter and social networks in events like the Arab Spring.
“And while this crop of hyped companies do have impressive revenues and some profits, one thing is for certain, as second and third tier companies make their way through IPO markets and disappoint with collapsing numbers, you will see the secondary market implode, valuations will reset and lots of unsophisticated investors will lose money. And the SEC will have failed us again.”
Keval Mehta, Jaargon Ltd:
“I don’t think that America is looking at a new ‘tech bubble.’ Tech is becoming part of our daily lives and affecting every single industry. Tech is now more than just ‘web sites’ as it was in the last tech bubble. Anyone with an idea, either good or bad, got funding. Investors, entrepeneurs, and the general public are now more aware of what’s a good idea and how it can affect them in their day to day lives.
“This rationale alone will prevent another tech bubble. Zygna in gaming and Groupon in commerce are single-handedly disrupting their individual industries with their products, and their valuation and sending a ripple affect in the tech industry.
“Their affect and valuation are allowing investors who are sitting on a lot of cash that they were unwilling to spend in the recession to now start seeking investments. It may be starting another gold rush. In our company we feel there is a huge void in healthcare technology. It is one of the most untapped markets when it comes to consumer tech and healthcare. We hope to fill in that gap with products and services that allow users to use tech to manage their healthcare.”
James Avery, Adzerk:
“The companies going public today have significant revenue and growth – something that didn’t exist in the last bubble. Zynga is bringing in around $1 billion a year in revenue. Groupon brought in $645 million in the first quarter of 2011 (although they still lost money). Even Pandora, which went public recently, is close to hitting $100 million a year in revenue.
“We will know we have hit a bubble when the companies getting huge valuations aren’t generating meaningful revenue. When you look back at the big busts in 2000, WebVan went public at a $6 billion valuation and they had under $4 million in revenue ALL TIME before their IPO. Pets.com revenue only hit $5 million in the quarter before they went public. People started claiming it was a bubble when Google went public at such a high valuation – but I think with a time machine any one of us would go back and buy their stock at the IPO price.”
Nick Jordan, Smashing Boxes:
“In short, I believe we have a flawed system. on the one hand, you have companies like Amazon and Google, where the majority of their current market value was created after their IPOs. That means that the founders and investors who took all of the risk made less off the entire deal than your everyday stock investor or mutual fund.
“On the other hand, with these hyper inflated valuations, you have a lot of VCs who need to make a certain return on their investment, so they pump up prospectuses and pass off the risk to these same mutual funds and average Joe investors. Neither is ideal.”
One thing we have heard repeatedly at Tech Media digital conferences is that while there may be valuation boom for Internet firms on the West Coast, that is not true in the Northeast or Southeast.
See also: Infographic: Tech boom or bubble? You decide
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Millennials are the most connected generation and use mobile for shopping, going online and more.
Just what the heck is 4G anyway? Verizon’s Karen Shultz, visiting the NC Research Triangle to tout the July launch of its 4G service in the region, says, “4G just means its a fourth generation system and every carrier is using a different technology.”
Verizon’s, slated to go live in the Research Triangle July 21, is ten times faster than its 3G system. At between 5mb to 12mb a second, “It’s the difference between a kitchen faucet and a fire hose,” Shultz says. “You’ll be able to download books and songs in seconds and movies in minutes. A lot of the things that drive you crazy working in the field on 3G will be no trouble on Verizon’s 4G. It will be comparable to working on a home computer.”
Verizon is also putting an extra 58 towers operating at the lower end of the spectrum, which provides a wider service area, to support the new 4G service in the Triangle area. The new towers expand the coverage area by 40 percent.
We recently tested phones with service by Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T, and while all performed adequately, Verizon’s service was consistently the best, particularly indoors, on the train between Durham, NC and Charlotte, NC, and even in more outlying areas. The 3G service, however, felt like a return to the early computer use, as mobile web pages took their time to load or change pages. The idea of actually working on one of those phones at more than communication was daunting.
Time Warner Cable, Sprint and Clear also offer 4G services in the Triangle. But that doesn’t mean they’re all the same.
That’s why Rep. Anna Eshoo, (D-CA) introduced a bill June 22 that would require providers to disclose actual data speeds at point of purchase. Called the “Next Generation Disclosure Act,” the bill would require the FCC to provide the speed information.
The International Telecommunications Union defines 4G as a 1 gigabit/sec and as yet, none of the major carriers achieve that speed. The ITU allows carriers to use the term 4G to describe “evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement. in performance and capabilities.”
Shultz says there is is more to the increased speeds to the 4G service Verizon offers.
“Down the road, as the LTE service kicks into gear, we’ll see increasing machine to machine connections. Those connect consumers to power provider smart grids for better control of energy consumption, or even to a refrigerator for inventory control, and other “humanless connections” leading to that everything connected world we’ve heard so much about in futuristic forecasts.
Here’s Verizon’s 4G speed comparison chart:
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
By Allan Maurer
CARY, NC – When Michael Bender and his InfusedCommerce co-founders created a technology that will embed a buy option directly into an online ad, it didn’t take long to figure out where to start offering it to customers. “We realized you could embed this technology anywhere, but the people we talked to wanted it on Facebook,” he says.
Bender, president, Brian Cary, lead developer, and Arthur Tew, business development manager, started InfusedCommerce in March 2010 and it is now one of the first companies in the Cary TechStarts+ accelerator.
“We started getting value from TechStarts Plus immediately,” Bender tells us. “There is a big advantage to being surrounded by tech people and startup people who have been there before. Even the water cooler talk is more interesting and applicable.”
In addition, the company gets advice from TechStarts+ head honcho, Bob Butler, himself a successful serial entrepreneur currently running BestThinking.com and ReallyWho.com in addition to TechStarts. Butler has a passion not only for helping other entrepreneurs but for boosting the Research Triangle area’s startup ecosystem to another level.
TechStarts Plus conference room
The entrepreneurial bug bit early
Bender says his own entrepreneurial instinct goes back to his childhood. “I was selling charm bracelets while everyone else was selling lemonade,” he says. “My mother was the bracelet manufacturer.”
He started a company to develop a wireless sensor network for construction site security when he graduated from college (with a BS in electrical and computer engineering from NC State) and got it in front of several local angels. But, says the 29-year-old Bender, “Most didn’t think I had the gray hair or experience to take it to market.”
He then spent four years at a software company which serves Fortune 1000 companies. He was responsible for a $500K business unit. He left his position in 2009 to help start Infused Industries.
Start a Facebook store in minutes
InfusedCommerce can quickly (within 10 minutes) create a branded Facebook store with payment and shipping options. That let’s the seller run exclusive product offerings, limited time promotions, on-going Facebook only deals, and promotion events that help grow the company’s fan base.
The Facebook stores integrate with a company’s standard processes. “We take a link from their products, a product feed, and enter than in our system,” Bender explains. “That sources the store with product information.”
Just putting products you can buy directly on a Facebook page does marginally better than a standard web site store, Bender notes. “A Facebook user education process has to occur so people know merchants are employing stores and Facebook is a place to shop.”
While that educational process will occur over the next few years, Bender says in the meantime, merchants can connect their products to Facebook promotions such as running a sweepstakes with a purchase component in the sweeps promo itself. “It reduces the friction on how you get there to make a purchase,” Bender says.
“That’s where a social media agency play comes in,” explains Bender.
InfusedCommerce also offers services to help make a firm’s “Facebook Commerce or F-Commerce” successful. “The business is pretty service heavy right now,” Bender says. “We help them identify what sorts of promotions work best.”
News feed product set for Q3
But the Facebook stores are just the tip of the InfusedCommerce ice berg. The company will also offer a technology that permits transactions from a Facebook news feed itself. It plans to start offering that service to help non-profits – and with the election year near – politicians, raise money.
The idea of targeting the political ecosystem will be “an interesting experiment,” says Bender. Facebook certainly attacts politically inspired comments, because as Bender notes, “Most people have strong views.”
The company plans to launch the news feed product in Q3.
For an article describing Go Smile’s experience using InfusedCommerce for Facebook Commerce, see:Solving Customer Experience Problems with Social Commerce: Infused Facebook eCommerce.
TJS article about TechStarts+ (it was orginally called TechSuites+)
Thursday, May 19th, 2011
RESEARCH TRIANGLE, NC – Time Warner Cable is introducing new ultra-fast Internet speeds today across North Carolina’s Triangle area, including Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, as well as Wilson for its residential and business class customers. Customers now have the option of purchasing or upgrading to Time Warner Cable’s new, faster Wideband Internet or Road Runner Extreme service.
This comes following a vote by the NC state legislature to restrict municipal broadband development efforts by requiring voter approval of capital funds for such networks. The bill is on NC Gov. Bev Perdue’s desk. We have reported extensively on that issue.
In addition, all current Road Runner Broadband and Turbo customers will enjoy substantially increased speeds at no additional cost. Time Warner Cable has invested $8.5 million in the Greater Triangle area to support the upgrade and higher speeds.
“We are empowering our customers with pure online power to save time and boost productivity when multitasking with multiple devices,” said Christine Whitaker, area vice president of operations, Eastern North Carolina. “As customers expand their use of the Internet, our services are evolving to meet their needs.”
Wideband Internet–the company’s fastest residential Internet experience — provides customers with speeds up to 50 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream. Wideband is available as part of Time Warner Cable’s SignatureHome offering that includes the company’s most robust digital cable package, its fastest Internet service and digital home phone product.
Road Runner Extreme delivers residential Internet speeds up to 30 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream and is a great alternative for families on a budget who desire extra speed.
As part of Time Warner Cable’s network upgrades, all current Time Warner Cable Road Runner customers in the area will automatically receive faster speeds for their existing Broadband and Turbo Internet service at no additional cost.
“We are substantially increasing our download speeds and essentially doubling upload speeds for our Road Runner Broadband and Turbo customers,” adds Whitaker. “This service upgrade demonstrates our commitment to deliver enhanced value to our customers.
Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
By Allan Maurer
DURHAM, NC – How do you get Google employees to move to Durham, NC and join a startup? Persistence worked for Spring Metrics, an analytics company that helps e-businesses understand what drives their revenue online. The company has signed two former employees of the search engine giant, a former product manager and an engineer.
“We didn’t actually look specifically for people who worked at Google. We were just looking for people we think are the best out there,” says Doug Kaufman, co-founder and CEO of Spring Metrics. But, he adds, “It does make the interview process easier knowing that Google puts them through the wringer.”
Google is known for its rigorous and daunting employee interview process.
Shannon Bauman, the former Google project manager, for instance, was asked: How many tennis balls fit in a 747? Why are manhole covers round? What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Bauman was at Google’s Mt. View headquarters for most of his four years with the company, but spent a few months at its Chapel Hill office prior to co-founding Spring Metrics. “There were a lot of smart people at Google,” he says.
“It was a shock to be in an environment with so many people smarter than me. It was daunting at first, but you learn to value it. There is a very open and collaborative environment there that helps foster the ability to get information from other people’s brains and make better products.”
Bauman says that when he started at Google, “It had 2,000 people. Four and a half years later, it’s 20,000 people. I was really more interested in working with smaller companies. I figured I’d learned a lot at Google, but the the things I’d keep learning by staying there were not as important as those I would learn by going to a startup. I thought of doing one myself, then met Doug and joined Spring Metrics.”
Networking paid off
He notes that he did a lot of networking when he first came to the area and “The Google name got me through a lot of doors.” At a Southern Capitol Ventures brunch, Jason Caplain introduced him to Kaufman.
“I love the Triangle,” he says. “The people the greenery, the space. It has so much going for it.” He admits, however, it is a bit harder to do a startup because there is less venture capital and angel money and fewer engineers than in Silicon Valley. “The more people you have in an ecosystem, the more things happen. California has ten times more people.”
Spring Metrics got its start with Launchbox Digital, the only Southeast accelerator to make a list of the top ten in the U.S., recently, then nabbed a $635,000 seed round from LaunchBox Digital, CBC New Media Group, Zelkova Ventures and Steve Vanderwoude and Lee Buck. The company’s product simplifies Web analytics to show only the data affecting the bottom line. It lets users see what is driving revenue and how they can actively generate more conversions.
Kaufman says that “If it were not for LaunchBox Digital, we probably would not have started this. Because of it, we knew we would have a much better chance of getting funding.”
A startup can do what a big company can’t
The company also set its sights on a Google engineer, Patrick Scott. The firm started talking with him at a very early stage, but as he saw where the company was going, “He realized it wasn’t going to fall off the map in five days,” says Kaufman. “So he got more comfortable and excited about a startup.”
But there was one other piece that worked in Spring Metrics’ favor. “There is something a startup can do that a big company can’t,” says Kaufman. “That is to really show someone how valuable they are. For us, pursuing this engineer, he knew we could only hire one guy. We showed him and told him how valuable he would be to us. We didn’t want just any engineer. We wanted him.”
That, he notes, “Goes a long way with people.”
Kaufman says the five-employee company is working on taking its product to another level. “We’re going to make this more useful, bring on another marketing person and bring on customers,” he says. While the firm is not looking for additional backing right now, “We will be,” says Kaufman.