Friday, April 13, 2012

CED live blog from Triangle Startup Weekend - Friday Action

Yep, it's true, CED will be live blogging from the 54-hour code-a-thon that is Triangle Startup Weekend. CED is proud to co-host the event, which is in conjunction with the Startup Weekend movement.

This year marks the second year that the Triangle has thrown a Startup Weekend, and organizer Arik Abel of co-host French|West|Vaughan expects this year to build on last year's success. Three of last year's startup companies are still operating and each has recently hit a major milestone.

All updates will be made within this post, and unique stories or breakout interviews may appear as single posts on the CED blog as well. The time of the post will be listed in italics prior to the update.

7:01 PM --  The two-hour networking social has ended and we are gathering inside for the opening address and keynote. This will be followed by 60-second pitches from potential entrepreneurs. Already tonight I have heard multiple ideas for applications which could improve the way we live, as well as ideas for e-commerce reselling sites that use unique algorithims to prioritize and rank potential purchases. I've heard ideas about how to streamline social networking and social networking aggregation. Multiple people have shared their desire with me to have a central system or mechanism with which to manage and understand online content (theirs or other people or brands). Let's get started.

7:14 PM -- One of the Startup Weekend Facilitator Trainers, Wendy Overton, from Baton Rouge, LA, kicks off Startup Weekend in front of more than 200 developers, business professionals, marketers, observers, and supporters. Overton shares that since Startup Weekend began, more than 460 events have been held, and the movement continues to grow.

7:29 PM -- Scott Klein, one of the Startup Weekend organizers, introduces Jason Massey, one of the region's premiere members of the entrepreneurial community, who will discuss the team environment of Startup Weekend and the Triangle community.

7:30 PM -- Jason Massey thanks CED Program Director Dhruv Patel for inviting him to speak tonight at Startup Weekend. Notes that his career only makes sense when viewed through the "rearview mirror". Meaning, he can really only track his life by looking back at it. When he found out he couldn't be a pilot or astronaut, Massey says he was crushed. It took him a while, and dropping out of NC State, to start to figure it out again. Took a job on Wall Street and learned how to not be afraid of the big guy, and not to be afraid to work hard to make sales and learn about sales and learn about business.

"Not until many years later did I look back and really understand that this [working on Wall Street] really wasn't for me," said Massey. What he really needed was to understand a company in three dimensions, meaning that he needed to work with the company rather than merely reading financial reports.

Massey describes his career as a venture capitalist as a string of failures, with a few successes which were enough to sustain the failures. Yet, said Massey, "the failures I experienced were what I learned the most from in my life." Having little failures, or "micro-failures," is one of the best ways to learn and innovate. We don't have to look very far to find successful companies that emerged due to failure--think about Angry Birds, whose developers tried 52 times prior to Angry Birds, or Twitter, who launched after a failure with Odio, or Dyson, whose inventor built more than 5,000 prototypes before finding success.

In speaking about recent news and the onset of better data on startups, Massey referenced the Startup Genome. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are 13% more likely to tackle new markets, whereas the rest of the ecosystems are more likely to target niche markets or restructure market segments. Really interesting fact that emerged from that project. So, the question is, can RTP build a culture that accepts failure and enables entrepreneurs to "drink the Kool-Aid."

Another big statistic involves the motivation of the founders of the company. Massey noted that he believes there is no barrier for RTP to consider the end-game of their company as one that "changes the world," which is what Silicon Valley entrepreneurs report 33% more than other regional entrepreneurs. There's no reason to believe that folks from the Triangle can't take the direct flight that is now offered from RDU to San Francisco and convince investors to make the trip here to the Triangle. "You guys are the rock stars in all of this," said Massey, "and don't you forget this. At the end of the day, it is the entrepreneur with the passion and the drive that will make these changes in the area and in the world."

It is the passion and drive of the entrepreneurs, says Massey, that will ultimately be the main factor in creating and sustaining change in the Triangle. With programs and a vast support network, available through organizations like CED, NC Biotechnology Center, and local economic development organizations, the Triangle is a supportive place for your potential startup, said Massey. So, take the leap, and "go big fast," said Massey. This is the best way to foster and accelerate the entrepreneurial culture in the Triangle.

8:05 PM (PITCHFIRE) -- It has begun! Check out full coverage:

9:24 PM -- Whew! That was quite exciting. Let's see what happens in the mix-and-mingle time. We have 61 startups to consider, and only a few minutes to consider them!

10:27 PM -- Top 20 Announced:

  • Unfundable
  • Dumpster Dating
  • Out Early 
  • DADD
  • History Hike
  • Fhoto Flip
  • Clever
  • Docster
  • Soul IPO / SoulXChange
  • Triangle Good
  • Near There Now
  • Easy Raffle
  • Energy Pop
  • Feed Beaver
  • Scholar Seed
  • Truxie
  • Book Work College
  • CookBooked
  • Friend Safe
  • Luv 150
TEAMS WILL FORM. You guessed it, folks need solid developers.

10:47 PM -- Teams start to move to Engineering Building #2, where our hosts are providing a late-night pizza snack to all teams. It looks like we're all set to discuss our MVPs (minimum viable product) and plot for the weekend.

12:00 AM -- I'm headed out for the evening, as teams are working on their weekend roadmaps. Tomorrow, we'll check in with a few of the teams that emerged from Pitchfire this evening to get a status update and see how they are progressing with their ideas.

UPDATE: See the Saturday Update, written by Jane Royall of CED.

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