We’re less than 24 hours away from the next Friday Nooner. We may or may not have a guest, but aren’t Joe and Pete enough of a draw? (That was rhetorical.) Watch live on Facebook or Youtube.
We’re about 172 hours away from the IRL return of the GrepBeat Happy Hour next Thursday, June 10, from 5-7 p.m. at Bull McCabe’s in downtown Durham. Your first drink will be courtesy of our sponsor, Hutchison law firm. We are especially eager to see all those who have moved to the Triangle during the pandemic, building on the welcome wagon constructed by Momentum’s Jessica Mitsch and the organizers of this fall’s inaugural Raleigh-Durham Startup Week, Archie O’Connor and Chris Heivly. Register now and we will see you then!
VoiceThread is one of those startups that has become an overnight success after 15 years. Founded by Steve Muth in 2006, Durham-based VoiceThread allows people to add video and/or audio comments and annotations to a piece of media. It has found significant traction in education (especially) and business settings as a collaborative tool. One reason it’s been a bit under the radar is that it’s been entirely bootstrapped, and thus doesn’t trip the wires of publicity that outside funding often brings. But this year Scot Wingo added VoiceThread to his Triangle Tweener list of startups that have crossed $1M in annual revenue and/or 10+ employees. Read our full profile of VoiceThread here.
RIoT has announced the seven startups that will participate in the eighth cohort of the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP), which kicks off—in person!—next Wednesday for 12 weeks. Five are the seven are local to the Triangle, including qcard from Venus Liles, which we wrote about on May 25 (aka Venus Liles Day). The other four locals: Generation Data Analytics, a Duke-incubated startup that applies mathematical data fusion to infectious disease information to improve public health; Ivan AI, a virtual property owner for landlords of rental properties; MyMatR, which makes “smart waste containers” for better recycling and less waste; and pro-UP, a digital franchise service that reduces the time spent on construction bids. You can find more info on them here.
Staying on the accelerator beat, yesterday’s TechWire re-ran a story coming from UNC on Launch Chapel Hill, the accelerator/incubator/coworking space on Franklin Street that is a joint venture between UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill and Orange County. The story includes a Q&A with Launch Chapel Hill’s Executive Director Velvet Nelson, who was a subject of our Download Q&A in April. Loyal GrepBeat readers know that we've profiled many startups that have emerged from LCH’s accelerator, which is about to wrap up its 15th cohort. Look for more this summer!
Let’s wrap up our accelerator news thusly: the deadline to apply for the third cohort of the Pax Momentum accelerator is next Tuesday, June 8. The Maryland-based program has already had three portfolio companies from the Triangle, including recent graduate ResultID (which we wrote about last October when it was going by NanoVest). The eight-week intensive program includes a $50K investment. Fun fact: Dualboot Partners Principal Todd Buelow—he's been a Download subject and Dualboot is sponsoring this quarter's newsletter—is one of the mentors. You can request an application here, and find more info on the program here.
Bandwidth is selling part of its soon-to-come Raleigh HQ campus to the site’s developers, which include Capitol Broadcasting Company, reports TBJ. Bandwidth didn’t comment, but at first blush it seems that Bandwidth is managing its risk by selling about 24 acres of the 40ish acres it agreed to acquire from the state, and will then lease the buildings that will be built on the site from the developers on a 20-year term. Bandwidth paid $30M for the full parcel, and will receive $17.5M in this deal. Voila: Bandwidth decreases its real estate exposure by more than half.
Where—and even whether—to have an office is an age-old question for businesses that has only increased in focus and complexity since the pandemic. But like in fashion, trends seem to come back around every few decades. Twenty or 30 years ago, sprawling corporate campuses were all the rage, exemplified in this region by Research Triangle Park. Eventually the pendulum swung toward downtowns, especially so workers would have lots of dining and other options within walking distance and to enable shorter commutes. Now the downtowns have gone from cheap rents to pricy and congested, and growing companies in particular are looking back toward areas like RTP for more room to spread out.
Developers have taken note and are trying to bring some of the benefits of downtown locations out to the campuses. That’s the thinking behind Boxyard RTP, an 18,000-square-foot restaurant and retail development built from repurposed shipping containers that will officially open this week. Fullsteam Brewery and Lawrence Barbecue are among the anchor tenants. TechWire has more details.
March Of Progress
In the “that sounds vaguely terrifying” department, NC State researchers say they have developed a new method to create images using AI. The work has applications for fields from autonomous robotics to training AI systems. Though all I keep thinking is “deepfakes!” It’s like an early scene in a sci-fi thriller in which an earnest scientist reveals her creation, which will soon lead to all sorts of unintended mayhem and an appearance by Jeff Goldblum.
How She Built It
I’m a big fan of the How I Built This podcast by Guy Raz, so I was excited to see a recent guest with a local connection: Jennifer Fitzgerald, the CEO of Policygenius. The fast-growing online insurance broker is based in New York, but has opened a second HQ in Durham. One fun fact about Jennifer: right out of college she worked in the Peace Corps, as did GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy. I still have about half of the 1-hour-and-22-minute show to go, but I’m quite enjoying it. She’s very impressive, and like in pretty much all HIBT episodes, you learn that the road to even very large success is almost never linear.
Dualboot Partners is a software development firm that helps ventures at all stages build great software and great companies. Founded by serial entrepreneurs, Dualboot Partners comes to each project with deep expertise in technology and business, as well as a commitment to supporting its clients well beyond the development process. The team offers advice and perspective—built over the course of hundreds of projects—and leverages its vast network to connect clients with investors, future hires and other resources critical in turning a concept into a successful venture. Intrigued? Email them here!
Hot off the presses: Melisse Shaban, the CEO of Raleigh-based Virtue Labs, has been named to the Forbes 50 Over 50 List. Virtue Labs uses a unique technology to repair damaged hair. Some other members of the women-only list: Vice President Kamala Harris, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, TV show creator Shonda Rimes and multiple other CEOs. TechWire has more details.
Guess where Pete is and (maybe) win a GrepBeat mug!
This week’s winner is Brandon Hoe, who correctly named my location as Heavenly Buffaloes in Durham while politely not mentioning my unflattering windswept “hairdo.” So let’s give him the stage: “Brandon Hoe is the growth stage marketing guy, and heads marketing at HackEDU, where companies like Amazon, Policygenius, and Bandwidth send their developers to learn secure coding skills. He also delights and irritates Instagrammers @simplecoffeeart.” Congrats, Brandon!