This is everything I've written here or elsewhere over the last few years. You can search, filter by publication, or choose from some highlights below.

The Number One Thing Startups Want From the Startup Community


First, let me set the scene. Every month, ExitEvent, a startup resource and news source headquartered in Durham, NC, puts over 100 smart entrepreneurs in a room with some investors, without any agenda, nametags, or instructions of any kind. We give them beer, music, and some food, and then they inevitably solve a lot of their own problems. It's called the Startup Social.

At the January Startup Social, I asked them to solve one of my problems. I put a suggestion box near the beer and asked what they wanted out of a startup community (and I goaded almost everyone into answering).

I summarized their suggestions into four "things," and things two through four are here.

Thing number one was not money.
That surprised me. Not a lot, but a little. So after I tallied the results, I went back and had several conversations with some of the entrepreneurs – those with both experience and position within the local startup community.

We talked about Durham's startup growth and the noise that has come along with it. As the top of the funnel expands in any startup community, there's a lot to talk about, even brag about. Don't misunderstand me: I remember the days when there was nothing to talk about and no one to talk to. That was awful.

But at some point the talk has to benefit the entrepreneurs. Otherwise, it's just talk. What all those suggestions were pointing to was the need for something like noise-reduction for the startups, and pretty much every entrepreneur agreed.

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NC IDEA Surpasses $2.1 Million in Free Money for Startups


It's sort of a badge of honor to be rejected for a grant from NC IDEA ( I've been rejected once. OK, twice, but one application was just a cocktail napkin that said “Football. Nudity. Internets.”

It's definitely a different universe when you land one. Just ask founders of StatSheet, Argyle Social, Spring Metrics, or one of the others who have won the grant and moved on to quickly raise seed rounds.

No wait. Those guys are busy. Don't bug them.

Argyle Social ( combines analysis of social publishing, customer engagement, and social analytics into a single dashboard. “We won a $33K grant from NC IDEA in January 2010,” says CEO/Founder Eric Boggs. “We used the cash to get from concept to alpha product to our first paying customer to seed financing in the bank - all in the course of about eight months.”

Spring Metrics ( has developed technology to offer real-time conversion analytics. “It provided another level of validation internally and externally,” CEO/Founder Doug Kaufman adds. “It showed our team that other smart, experienced people believed in our vision - that goes a long way inside a young startup. Externally, it demonstrated to the investor community that we were developing a business that could have real market impact and revenue.”

StatSheet ( is a tech media company that humanizes big data to automate narratives for sports and other verticals (Disclosure: StatSheet was my client and I joined the management team there after their seed raise). CEO/Founder Robbie Allen says, “The grant money provided enough of a kick to get StatSheet to the point where I was able to successfully raise a seed round of funding a year later.”

Or you might talk to those who will be picking up their checks shortly, the just-announced Spring 2011 winners:

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Under the Radar


I'm not going to say I wasn't disappointed, but I'm also hopeful.

Oh, sorry, here's the story: This past Monday morning, June 13th, the Raleigh/Durham area, more commonly known as Research Triangle Park (RTP), hosted President Obama, who the toured local LED technology company Cree. Shortly before his arrival, the White House Jobs and Competitive Council held five “Listening and Action Sessions” with local entrepreneurs and business executives, including a session on Entrepreneurship held at Durham's American Underground, the region's startup hub.

Don't get me wrong. This is fantastic. Having that much focus at such a high level on entrepreneurism is certainly more than most could wish for. Some very successful local entrepreneurs were heard and came away with nothing but positive things to say about the experience.

That's awesome.

However, later that same day, about a five-minute walk from the American Underground, over 50 of the areas entrepreneurs from 40 of the top local startups convened for three hours to discuss their issues, problems, concerns, and successes.

Amongst themselves.


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