The @bigfleet beat: November’s startup news & events | CLT Blog
Photo credit: Alain DeschenesPhoto credit: Alain Deschenes

The @bigfleet beat: November’s startup news & events

Posted on 11 Nov 2012 by bigfleet

Each month, Jim Van Fleet distills the city’s startup community news and events into a single, easy-to-read digest. You can get this same information delivered directly to your inbox by signing up here.

Winds of Change

It’s been a long time since I posted here. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again! By now, though, many of you already know that my previous employer, OtherScreen, has closed its doors. We had hoped that OtherScreen would provide an example of a home-grown, venture funded startup hitting a home run, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I’m proud of how this team has wound down the work. I would work with any member of our team: Chris Halligan, Garth Moulton, Andrew Gertig, and Mike D’Avria again in a heartbeat.

I have already evaluated some great new opportunities, but more evaluation is still needed. That search has taken time away from the newsletter. Fortunately, I’m excited about an expansion to help cover the many high-potential Charlotte startups that remain active in the marketplace. I’m joining forces with Steve Kwon and James Stewart, Jr. of Detailed Block to expand the breadth and depth of coverage this newsletter can provide. Check out their pieces on Hackerspace Charlotte, and the tech scene in general. Also these two aren’t afraid to mix it up with competing takes on the Walgreen’s in Dilworth. I’m excited to provide my readers with better coverage and more points of view– your readership makes it possible, so keep reading and clicking on what you find interesting!

Now, on with the show!

Charlotte Startup Weekend 5

In a year filled with them, there’s one more transition yet to come. Although I plan to remain a strong supporter of the event, it’s time for me to step down as co-organizer of Charlotte Startup Weekend. But, before I go, I’ll be making sure that everything is in place for our best event yet. January 25-27th, 2013 will be the fifth Startup Weekend here in the Queen City, and we’ve got our best set of volunteers and sponsors already lined up. Even if you’ve been to one before, there will be plenty of new surprises and great experiences for you. I want to make this event unmissable, and I feel like I’m off to a very good start.

I appreciate your patience as I’ll be promoting this event until it goes on, so I’ll make this one brief. Early bird registration is open, so this is the best way to guarantee yourself a good deal. It’s possibly also the last Charlotte Startup Weekend where you won’t have to compete against me! I’m itching to show everybody how it’s done, so register now for your best chance at prizes!

Events

Charlotte Shapers Award Presentation

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 at 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
Venue: Pease Auditorium, CPCC
Host: Charlotte Shapers

The winner of the Charlotte Shapers competition will be announced this Wednesday night. It’s a great opportunity to see the Charlotte community uniting around the message of combating youth employment through encouraging young entrepreneurs to tackle the problem themselves. You can join the 200+ people that have RSVP’d for the event by visiting their website. If you can’t make this event, but are interested in this issue, consider liking them on Facebook where, incidentally, you can also find out about the finalists of this inagural event.

The Geek Fest

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 from 9AM to 5:30 PM
Cost: Free
Host + Venue: CPCC, Levine Campus

CPCC’s Geek Fest is among Charlotte’s finest traditions in computing and engineering nerdery. I had an absolute blast both attending and presenting The Lean Startup at last year’s Geek Fest, and can recommend it without reservations. I’ll be back again this year, talking about the Economics of Open Source in the afternoon on this year’s schedule.

Congratulations, also, to the Geek Fest’s grand impresario Adam Brooks for winning CPCC’s Entrepreneur of the Year award! Keep up the great work, Adam! Your efforts to rally the entire tech community behind your event are really inspiring.

Raising Early Stage Capital

Thursday, November 15th, 2012.
Program from 1:30 to 5:30 PM, reception to follow until 8.
Cost: Free for BIG members, $65 in advance, $80 at door
Venue: UNC Charlotte Center City, Large Auditorium
Host: BIG Council

For those of you who are less nerd oriented, there’s a great opportunity to learn more about early stage funding. A host of Charlotte tech and entrepreneurial luminaries will be on hand for this event. For the many entrepreneurs who say access to capital is their biggest problem, this event can help explain how to ready yourself and appeal to the holders of that capital. The expertise on these panels comes from investors and experienced entrepreneurs– the opportunity to learn from this kind of experience doesn’t come around that often, so you should really consider signing up.

Attracting and Retaining Top IT Talent and IT-ology Launch

Thursday, December 4th, 2012.
Program from 2:30 to 5:00 PM, reception to follow until 8.
Cost: Event is $40, reception is free.
Venue: Wells Fargo Auditorium
Host: BIG Council, NCTA, IT-ology

I’ll be on a panel at this event centered on growth of all varieties of Information Technology talent here in Charlotte. It will also serve as the launch party for IT-ology’s Charlotte operation. If you’re not familiar with IT-ology, they are a non-profit committed to creating and furthering careers in IT. They’ve hosted and sponsored some great events down the road in Columbia like POSSCON and ConvergeSE, and they will be a very welcome addition to the Charlotte tech community. Come on out and say hi!

Bits and pieces

The City and the CEA

This newsletter has been tracking the relationship between the City of Charlotte and the entrepreneurial ecosystem since Skookum Digital Works hosted a Town Hall event for Mayor Anthony Foxx last September. In a survey issued after that, most of you thought it was “politics as usual”.

I’m happy to report that, from my view, you were correct. Politics in this city is built on collaboration between government and the private sector, and that’s what’s happened to deliver the City’s plan to support high-growth entrepreneurs which will go to a vote of the full City Council on Nov. 12 with the unanimous support of the Council’s Economic Development committee.

For those among you with shorter attention spans, I’m going to summarize these efforts here, though I encourage you to read the above links for the full story. The Charlotte Entrepreneurial Alliance, spearheaded by entreprenurial fixtures like Paul Solitaro, Charles Thomas, Paul Wettenhall and Dan Roselli joined with Economic Development Manager for the City, Brad Richardson, to produce and shepherd this plan through to likely Council approval Monday night. The five points of the plan are the following:

  1. Determine how the Mayor’s office can best communicate about Charlotte startups, including promotion and awareness efforts
  2. Expend effort to make the City a more feasible target customer for Charlotte startups
  3. Fund through a community challenge grant up to $500k to establish a non-profit Charlotte Regional Foundation for Entrepreneurs (CRFE) committed to providing lasting support for startups in the Queen City.
  4. Establish UNCC and the Charlotte Research Institute as a major center of innovation and research in the state.
  5. Identify physical spaces capable of aiding and encouraging entrepreneurship at all levels and in all regions throughout the city.

I’m sure most of you perked up at that $500k. Assuming that the CEA is successful in its efforts to fundraise in the business community, the CRFE will be comprised of an advisory council that will receive grant applications from other non-profit and community organizations. The CRFE will not invest in startups directly, but instead will focus on the ecosystem surrounding high-growth entrepreneurship in the city. Should this initiative succeed, I would expect more and better events, better outreach, and more attention paid to startups, and that’s just for starters. Those with questions can feel free to ask me about this initiative, and I’ll be certain to keep my readers up to speed as this story develops.

BIG Council lands SEVC for Queen City

March 13th and 14th of 2013 will see hundreds of investors around the world come to Charlotte for the Southeast Venture Conference thanks to the tireless efforts of Terry Cox and her BIG Council. While it’s a longshot that simply hosting a conference will lead directly to Charlotte startups receiving funding, we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished as a community so far. We would not have been in position to hold this conference without regional recognition of our efforts, and the more comfortable investors of all shapes and sizes are with Charlotte, the better for all of us.

Initiatives like those with the City above and the SEVC don’t happen in a vacuum. As amazing as Terry is, she and the rest of the CEA need our help to show that there are entrepreneurs here in the city that are doing well, and could be doing even better with more recognition and opportunities arising from better publicity. Last year, we asked readers to complete a survey resulting in these results of the first ever entrepreneurial survey in Charlotte. These results (particularly the aggregate creation of 600 jobs in a 3 year period) are hugely helpful in building political and corporate support for our efforts out here on the front lines of job and wealth creation. If you could see yourself employing 100 people someday, won’t you consider participating in the second entreprenurial survey? It will take only minutes, and you need not disclose the identity of your company should you have privacy concerns. Each submission will also result in a $1 donation to All-In To Fight Cancer.

In Our Next Issue

It’s mind blowing how much great press coverage is coming to Charlotte startups. We’ll be profiling some standouts like Savveo and DealCloud for their exceptional performance, as well as marking the debut of the Detailed Block crew here in the newsletter. See you then!

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