Im from the Triangle. Born, raised, educated and employed. I love it. Maybe its the Carolina skies. Maybe its the basketball, maybe its the people drawn here by world-class universities and RTP. Maybe its 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.
Ive 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 isnt comprehensive or authoritative its 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 in Durham and Raleigh.
• Triangle-Area Chambers of Commerce: Raleighs Chamber is the largest and is well organized. Durhams Chamber offers an emphasis on supporting local startups.
• Jon Leonardo at Triangle Entrepreneurship Week: Jon runs Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, and can tell you about a startup event for every day of the week. He formerly worked at Bull City Forward, which is making Durham a destination for social entrepreneurs. Speak to Roshen Sethna at BCF.
• Triangle Startup Factory: Founded by Chris Heivly and Dave Neal, its 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 Chambers 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 UNCs Entrepreneurship Minor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.