It’s an exciting time to live in the Raleigh-Durham area. Today I had the pleasure to attend the Triangle Startup Factory Pitch Day. Triangle Startup Factory is a local incubator that runs an intense three month program for startups. They also boast the title of “the most highly capitalized technology accelerator in the southeast.”
Pitch Day consisted of six TSF companies presenting their ideas and progress over the last twelve weeks. I was very impressed with what I saw. The pitches ranged from real-time, location-based sharing mobile apps (Berst) to big data companies (Arcametric). While it was obvious that each company had a great team and was accelerating quickly, I was taken back by something completely different.
The range of individuals present was inspiring. Both young and old, investors and entrepreneurs, newbies and veterans, all gathered in one space for two hours (TSF was really mean and kicked everyone out except the investors at noon!). What was so special about the scene was that no one had a title. Entrepreneurs spent time talking to investors. Veteran entrepreneurs were talking with “I think I might want to be” entrepreneurs. No status, no barriers, just a collection of people who wanted to share knowledge, opinions and stories with each other.
Now that TSF Pitch Day sounds like heaven on earth, why is it important? The environment described is typically reserved for the Bay Area or NYC. Raleigh-Durham (“The Triangle”) had been lacking this staple of support. No longer is that the case. The ecosystem is thriving and over the next 3-5 years I expect to see The Triangle area become synonymous with Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley (just don’t give us some lame nickname as if we are the little brother to those two).
Our country is in need of even more support for entrepreneurship and investment capital. The Startup Act and crowdfunding are steps in the right direction. Another step would be to see more incubators or mentor programs like Triangle Startup Factory pop up across the nation. You can model yours after TSF but don’t think about trying to lure them away. We aren’t looking to get rid of them any time soon!
As always you can follow me @APompliano. If you were present at TSF Pitch Day please share your thoughts or reactions below. If you weren’t able to make it, what do you see as other potential steps to helping promote startup ecosystems across the country?