I’m from the Triangle. Born, raised, educated and employed. I love it. Maybe it’s the Carolina skies. Maybe it’s the basketball, maybe it’s the people drawn here by world-class universities and RTP. Maybe it’s that gas is too expensive for me to leave…
The area has many attributes, but for me, one tops them all: the thriving startup and small business communities.
I’ve operated a Durham-based business for four years, but this summer, while developing a new company called Local-Ventures, I experienced the business ecosystem like never before. Local-Ventures is a startup, and its mission involves creating relationships between local businesses. So I spent the summer surrounded by those who help keep the Triangle consistently ranked on top 10 lists for business, growth and innovation. Here are a few of those individuals and organizations. The list isn’t comprehensive or authoritative – it’s a selection from my experience.
• CED: CED offers benefits such as tech forums featuring local executives and a FastTrac program, which gives new companies a running start. Anne Katharine Wales introduced me to several other people on this list.
• ExitEvent: ExitEvent is organized by Joe Procopio, entrepreneur, engineer and writer (follow @jproco). This monthly event brings 200-plus veteran and aspiring entrepreneurs together at Neu Concepts in Durham.
• Triangle-Area Chambers of Commerce: Raleigh’s Chamber is the largest and is well organized. Durham’s Chamber offers an emphasis on supporting local startups and has Adam Klein on staff.
• Jon Leonardo at Bull City Forward: Jon runs Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, and can tell you about a startup event for every day of the week. Check out Bull City Forward’s Durham space, and chat with the people who are making Durham a destination for social entrepreneurs.
• Triangle Startup Factory: Founded by Chris Heivly and Dave Neal, it’s the most capitalized accelerator in the Southeast. Heivly was a co-founder of MapQuest and publishes Triangle Tech Talk. Neal has held C-suite positions at several successful tech companies.
• Jeff Tippett of Calvert Creative: Jeff knows the small business community. He chaired the Raleigh Chamber’s Business Expo this year and is on the board of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association.
• JT Vaughn at Cherokee: JT can help you navigate the startup and greater business communities and he runs Cherokee Challenge, a competition and accelerator designed to fund and support high-impact environmental startups.
• Julian Wooten: Julian recently co-founded Social Venture Chapel Hill, which provides organized entrepreneurial networking events.
• The Greater UNC Entrepreneurial Community: The people behind this program are truly dedicated to helping students bring world changing ideas to life.
Ann Johnston is COO at Baker-Eubanks, a Durham-based executive due diligence firm, founder of Local-Ventures, a local startup providing information and deals that facilitate local B2B purchasing and a student in UNC’s Entrepreneurship Minor. She can be reached at email@example.com.