On September 11-12, Raleigh, NC will be hosting the state’s annual Tech Venture Conference, which features hundreds of the region’s leading entrepreneurs and high-growth company executives (startups to pre-IPO), nationally-focused venture capitalists and private equity professionals, mergers and acquisitions facilitators, and many other leading professionals serving the high-growth technology community. The event is sponsored by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), which is an organization based out the American Tobacco Campus in Durham, NC that offers venture mentorship services and networking opportunities for local startups and entrepreneurs.
I recently had the opportunity to personally visit the American Tobacco campus to meet with some of the startups, accelerators, and organizations in the building who were all eager to put the triangle area on the map as a hub for budding ventures. Since the NC IDEA grant program has become increasingly competitive, the need for accelerators like Groundwork Labs has sprung up to help entrepreneurs have a better chance at receiving one of the 180 available grants. Says John Austin, managing director, Groundwork Labs does not make an investment in the company or take an equity stake, but instead works on funding from the NC IDEA. Startups typically come in at a very early stage and get the chance to use resources like the “Guru Desk,” where subject matter experts such as lawyers or go-to-market experts come in and sit on a regular basis. There is no pre-determined start or end date for each startup, but the goal, according to Austin, is to house 6-12 companies per year.
Ground Rules for participation in Groundwork Labs: 1. Idea must be dry (no pharmaceuticals/chemistry projects) 2. Most residents are software startups, but they currently have two hardware companies and one gaming company
The differentiating factor of Groundwork Labs when compared to more traditional accelerators is that it was established specifically to help very early stage companies. John Austin’s team then tries to get them to a formal accelerator, such as the Triangle Startup Factory.
Groundwork’s measurement of success is simple: 1. How have the residents performed on fundraising? 2. Employment – Are they creating jobs in the triangle area? 3. Are they having fun?
John says it’s a resounding ‘yes’ to all three, and he looks forward to working with more applicants. Find John on Twitter at @johndeeaustin.
Just a sampling of the companies who have been a part of Groundwork Labs include:
Adzerk is building a next generation ad server. Their goal is to make the banner ads and other advertisements you see on the Web more effective, faster, and less intrusive. In 2011, they are going to be launching their product to the public (they are currently in private beta). They will also be hiring our first full-time employees.
BoostSuite is a web marketing optimization product for small businesses. They allow novice web marketers to build more website traffic and convert more online visitors into customers and leads for their businesses. Unlike current web marketing optimization products that bewilder and discourage small business users, BoostSuite takes only three minutes to set up, is easy to learn, and can be used by anyone.
Jaargon Ltd is becoming a leader in delivering health care information conveniently and on demand through mobile devices. Their first project, GotoAID, is the premiere first aid resource on the internet and on mobile devices. Their focus is on ‘Mobilizing Healthcare’ by taking the medical jargon out of health care and bringing it to a level a non-health care professional can understand.
Smashing Boxes is an entrepreneurial minded design and development shop in Durham. They provide ruby on rails development, user centric design, and mobile development for startups, non profits, and medium to large businesses who value innovation and a team that is not afraid to think outside the box.
Zeek is the world’s first completely mobile coupon book fundraiser. Not only does Zeek provide you with amazing deals all over town on your smart phone, but you’ll also be supporting your favorite cause.
Post written by Michelle Purvis, an MBA intern who worked with the Global Entrepreneur Program this summer.