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.

Entrepreneurs, Investors Agree: Great Talent Always Gets Money


Two weeks ago, I moderated a panel on Internet Entrepreneurship at Raleigh's Internet Summit. It was an intimidating experience as, although I've been on panels of all kinds, this was my first time moderating.

My panel was comprised of two founders – CEO Andy Beal from Trackur, a social media monitoring solution company in Raleigh, and COO Alexandre Douzet from The Ladders, the well-known online job matching service.

There were also two investors – Co-Founder/General Partner Brian Rich from New York-based Calatyst Investors and Co-Founder/General Partner Jason Caplain from Raleigh's Southern Capitol Ventures.

Not to say that entrepreneurs and investors disagree all the time, but this panel agreed on quite a lot. Now, if you've ever seen a conference panel where all the panelists agree on everything, you know that can be the dead boring. But in this case it was actually helpful, because some really smart advice came out of it.

Regardless, I know what you want. Here's where they disagreed

VC investment is down. Is this a hiccup or a trend?

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Automated Insights Powers Millions of Fantasy Football Recaps for Yahoo!


The first week of the 2012 NFL Football Season is in the books and at 4:30 a.m. this morning, me and the crew at Automated Insights began creating and delivering individual Fantasy Football matchup recaps to Yahoo! Fantasy Football.

By 7:30 a.m. this morning, Yahoo! had published several million of these recaps across their league pages and we were seeing tweets like these:

Dear Yahoo! Fantasy Football people. You have earned some serious respect with this awesome “;Recap”; feature for previous week matchups

By the end of the 2012 season, it will be the largest implementation of fully personalized automated content ever produced.

Each team got a unique, professional-sounding paragraph narrative plus four sets of game notes recapping their individual matchup. The recap is highly relevant and hyper-personalized, even entertaining, highlighting not only what did happen, but how it happened, what could have happened, and even what should have happened.

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Smartphone Deathmatch: iPhone 4s vs. Samsung Galaxy S3 vs. HTC Incredible 4G LTE


Make no mistake. This is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill, spec-heavy mobile handset review. Furthermore, this isn't about slapping down 1000 words to earn geek cred.

Not that I don't do that. On occasion.

This is about the phone that is going into my pocket for the next two years. That's huge. I love my phone. I mean, I LOVE MY PHONE. So read every word with weight, because this decision wasn't handled lightly.

We happen to be in a convergence period in which there are two distinct handsets vying for the title of Best Smartphone in the World. Apple's iPhone 4s is nearing the end of its run, which has allowed Android's Ice Cream Sandwich (and even more so Jellybean) on the Samsung S3 a window of opportunity in which to catch up and pass iOS.

And I know what you're thinking, but the HTC Incredible is the only recent entry into the Android ICS market that isn't bigger than my head. This is key and I'll get to it.

In any case, I spent way more time with these three devices than any socially-adjusted person should. You get the fruits of that labor. Plus you get a nice story.

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NC IDEA Grant Winners Have Big Plans


Last year, I wrote about the NC IDEA grant program for Startup America, noting it had surpassed $2 million in funds granted (not loaned or invested) in North Carolina startups. This is an awesome thing, and I was adamant about the fact that every startup in North Carolina should take full advantage of this program.

Turns out they listened to me and they're doing exactly that. According to Dave Rizzo, NC IDEA President, the entrepreneurs are far more prepared for the application process than they've ever been, resulting in a massive number of applications, most with a much higher quality than they had ever seen.

Late last year, NC IDEA hooked up with Groundwork Labs to create something much closer to a true accelerator model.

A lot of companies have gone from zero to sixty thanks to NC IDEA, including the startup I work for, Automated Insights, as well as other names you know like Valencell, Oncoscope, Argyle Social, Spring Metrics, and BoostSuite.

Chances are you'll soon know the names of this round of grant winners, if you don't already. A lot of you are in the loop like that.

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Triangle Startup Factory Launches Six Startups at Pitch Day


Back in March, when I wrote about the five companies that had been selected for the first class of Triangle Startup Factory, my theme was that in the startup world, nothing happens overnight. It took a long three years and some pivoting to get TSF to the place it is now, and each of the companies, for the most part, had been in the trenches for a while.

Today, those five — Archive Social, RxAnalytics, Arcametrics, Ruzuku, Berst, plus late arrival Entasso will hop on stage in Bay 7 of American Tobacco and show you, and a number of potential investors, what they've created. Five of the six will ask for money (not from you, you're cool).

Half of the Factory

I sat down with half of the TSF management team this week —; serial CEO, board member, advisor, and mentor Dave Neal —; to talk about the class, the semester, and what everyone learned.

Dave sees the pros and cons of the Triangle as a startup hub. The pros are many, and they start with the ideas, which are big, and extend to the talent pool, which is vast. The cons are few and, played right, can be strengths.

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East Coast Game Conference 2012: Immobile and Antisocial?


First of all, in my day, we didn't have fancy conferences that celebrated game development. Game development was done in lonely cubicles in single-story faceless, Soviet-era buildings with three or four other developers.

There weren't designers, there certainly wasn't any marketing, and the future pretty much always looked bleak – your career was the equivalent of maxing out your points until your last guy got eaten by what sort of looked like a dragon. Or gorilla.

Life Imitating 8-bit Art

In my day, there was only the console, and by “console” I mean a wood cabinet which housed a Zenith and a disturbingly warm number of motherboards and transistors.

It wasn't until years later that the PC allowed us to be social and mobile with our gaming, and by “mobile” I mean hauling a monitor the size of an industrial clothes dryer over to your friend's crappy apartment, and by “social” I mean someone brought bean dip and a bag of Fritos.

Today, as I take in day 2 of the fourth East Coast Game Conference (and this is my fourth so I get a wicked sweet badge), in Raleigh's Convention Center, it's clear that mobile and social games can no longer rely on being mobile and/or social to be successful.

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Triangle Startup Factory Names Inaugural Class

Durham Accelerator Proves Nothing is Automatic


There really is no such thing as overnight success is the startup universe.

Just as it's been a long road for Triangle Startup Factory, going back to the conversations I first had with Chris Heivly some three years ago, when the idea of an accelerator in the Triangle seemed so crazy that it just might work, it's been a haul for the five companies that make up its inaugural class.

ExactByte makes Archive Social, a software-as-a-service solution for automatically keeping business-compliant records of an organization';s social communication (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). I first started following CEO Anil Chawla's entrepreneurial exploits while he was still with IBM a couple years ago, and finally wound up covering him, ExactByte, and Archive Social when he presented at Launch Days back in January.

As I mention in that column, Anil has been on the startup scene for years, he's been a fixture at ExitEvent since the first one (he even let me beat him at ping pong back in December), and he was at Startup Happy Hour Wednesday night looking all smiley and what not.

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Startups: Introduce Yourself

A Day In The Life Becomes a Learning Experience


Not every startup gets the lottery ticket launch. For every accelerator or grant program with a five-figure pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, there are hundreds of hungry startups vying for that same prize. Many of them will be better positioned and more savvy than you, and let's face it, at least a few of them are more deserving.

You can't win, but there are alternatives to fighting.

Last night, I attended three local events that allowed startups to make noise, get seen, and get introduced to people who can help them. Actually I attended two. They were all on the same night and even though I have thinking robots at my disposal, none of them are good conversationalists and, frankly, they're all kind of lazy.

But if you have time and intestinal fortitude, here are three ways to get noticed.

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What You Missed at Southeast Venture Conference


Last night at dinner, Windsor Circle's Matt Williamson was a busy man. In between bites and drinks, he filled pages in a notebook with research on a number of investors who introduced themselves after his pitch. The beautiful thing was there was a veritable cornucopia of information to be had among the six of us at dinner, and by the time it was over, he was armed.

Williamson says, “It's been an incredible experience being in such a tight concentration of venture capitalists. The overwhelming response is that we're a compelling story for such a short amount of time that Windsor Circle has been around. I've been pleasantly surprised at how helpful the VCs are.”

He said a lot more than that, but I blacked out. It was late.

He's not alone. Several startups are making that upward swing from the pitches into meetings, and if yesterday was an explosion of activity, then this morning and afternoon should be buzzing with follow up.

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Durham to Stuff the Next Big Thing into a Tiny Little Office

The Smoffice


Sometime in May, you're going to be walking down Main street in Downtown Durham and pass by a glass-encased habitat at the front of a well-known coffee shop where a single entrepreneur or team of entrepreneurs will be feverishly working for your enjoyment.

You may stop in for a delicious coffee, you may just watch for a few minutes while lines of code are slung at some business problem that needs fixing. But when you walk away and go about the rest of your day, you'll be thinking, “I should have thought of that.”

The Smoffice

The idea is to give a single startup six months of free space in “the worlds smallest office” in downtown Durham, driving home the point that a startup doesn't necessarily need big or fancy or cash or backing, but simply a great idea fostered in a stimulating and supportive environment.

You'll be peering through the glass at The Smoffice, a so-crazy-it-has-to-work partnership between the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Durham Inc., Beyu Caffe, and a host of other local sponsors.

It's a rather artful statement on Durham as an up-and-coming startup ecosystem.

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Five Reasons You Should be at SEVC

How to Get the Most Out of Any Conference


A week from today, I'll be waking up with a hangover in a fabulously appointed room at the Ritz Carlton in Tyson's Corner, wondering if I have enough time for a shower before the pre-networking-breakfast networking.

And I'll view that as a success.

There are conferences and there are conferences. As someone who invented a social event based upon removing everything from a conference except the reception at the end (and lay off, I've got the patent), I can tell you that every conference has its place and time, but it's usually what happens around the conference that's worth the price of admission.

If you're an entrepreneur or want to invest in, support, or provide services for entrepreneurs, next week's Southeast Venture Conference is the one you'll want to be around.

This year's installment will be my fifth. Each time I've gone for a different reason, and usually, it winds up being a combination of the following:

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In the RTP: Why Aren't You an Entrepreneur?


In my last installment of this 2011 review of the RTP startup ecosystem, I went back over some of the companies I hung out with last year. Some. Just a few. Mostly the ones who did big, huge, extraordinary things. But of course that leaves out the hundreds (and yes, there are hundreds) of equally likeable and viable companies who did not do big, huge, extraordinary things last year.

I hung out with them too, just in groups and a lot of times with drinks.

And there were groups everywhere. If 2011 was the year the RTP startup ecosystem organized, it got most of that organization done at meetups, events, users groups, conferences, and galas. If it seemed like there was something startup-related going on every single week that's because there was, and 2012 looks to be no different, just better.

There's been no better time to be an entrepreneur in the RTP. Here's why:

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Return of Triangle Startup Factory

Why It's Huge for the RTP


Go big or go home.

I hear this phrase a lot lately. In some circles, it could be seen as a bubblicious mantra of a bunch of crazy kids looking to hit home runs by selling their social network startup to Facebook. In others, namely here in the RTP, it's a battle cry for survival against the long odds of starting a company in this talent-rich, cash-strapped area.

But those odds just got a whole lot better.

Last night, longtime RTP startup ecosystem guru, former LaunchBox Director, and current TriangleTechTalk and TechJobs Under the Big Top founder Chris Heivly announced that a nice big bow had been put on a reboot of Triangle Startup Factory, the accelerator he merged into LaunchBox Digital when that accelerator swung south from DC back in 2010.

TSF will now host between five and seven startups twice a year, starting this spring, for intensive three-month programs chock full of capital, mentoring, connections, infrastructure, and, most importantly, a sizeable post-program runway.

That last one is the big news.

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Entrepreneurs Aren't Born, They're Launched


I see Anil Chawla everywhere I go. And while my ego told me he was probably stalking me, it turns out he's been an entrepreneur for a long time, even though it's only been a year since he let everyone know.

That was the day Anil left his posh job pushing code at IBM, where he had been for over six years, to hop on the roller-coaster ride of full-time founder. Anil had been working under wraps to polish his product, TweetyMail (yes, I've spoken to him about the name, but you'll remember it when you've finished reading this column). It's a framework for accessing Twitter via email. He later expanded to TheFriendMail, which accomplishes the same for Facebook.

Anil Likes Email

But on Thursday, January 12th, Anil will be one of the five startups launching new products at the third version of Launch Day, which gets started at 5:00 p.m. in Bay 7 of the American Tobacco campus in Durham.

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2012: The Year the RTP Startup Ecosystem Explodes


I'll start off 2012 with two disclaimers.

One: Apologies to you Mayan calendar believers, I didn't mean to alarm you with the title. 2012 won't be the year that random Durham entrepreneurs spontaneously combust – although that could happen, it's highly unlikely. I'll make it up to you by not making an easy joke at your expense.

Two: I'll be honest with you. I don't know what's going to happen to the RTP Startup Ecosystem this year. I've seen some crazy stuff in my time here. For all I know, Durham could become the food truck capital of the world, pushing technology, bio, and gaming aside, and prompting food truck tourism and a Food Truck Alley along Jackie Robinson drive.

For all I know.

But I can tell you this. What happens in the oh-twelve is going to build off of what happened in 2011. And if you have to put a single word on what the RTP did to justify its position in the startup universe relative to Silicon Valley, New York, Boulder, etc., that word would be: Organization.

Note that it's not: Money. That's what 2012 needs to be about.

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