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Happy Tuesday!

Just three days away from the next Coffee & Conversation (Friday at 9 a.m.) on Hiring Software Engineers, thanks to our sponsor HireNetworks. We’ve got three great guests lined up: tech recruiters extraordinaire Melissa Crosby (Kaleido) and Kristina Vanover (Onna), plus David Rogers (Grove Collaborative) to share the viewpoint of someone who manages said engineers. Register now for the Zoom credentials!

More big news: Friday is also GrepBeat’s second birthday; our first newsletter went out and went live on Aug. 7, 2018. To celebrate, on Thursday we’re going to roll out a wildly entertaining quiz on GrepBeat history. The top scorer will receive a home-baked, GrepBeat-red-velvet, custom-decorated, hand-delivered birthday cake from yours truly on Friday. Yes, I'm serious.

Exit Stories

As GrepBeat enters its third year, we’re taking more and more steps to becoming a true multimedia operation. So move over, Pete Meets... and Coffee & Conversation, for the newest program in the GrepBeat Media Empire—Exit Stories, which is both a podcast and a video series. Jurassic Capital’s Kevin Mosley is your able host for this series about some of the Triangle’s notable startup exit success stories. The first episode is out today featuring an interview with Tobi Walter, the German expat who was the CEO of Durham-based Shoeboxed through its 2018 acquisition and is now a Principal at Cary’s Cofounders Capital. (Wearing his VC hat, Tobi was also a guest on the first Coffee & Conversation.)

Click here for the story that introduces Exit Stories and also provides some highlights of the premiere. You can find the podcast here, and the YouTube video here.


Self Image

Mike Vaggalis co-founded Chapel Hill’s Keepsake Tales primarily to tackle two problems: the lack of representation in popular media for many kids who are minorities or differently abled, and the lure of screens that can make getting kids to read a chore. With Keepsake Tales, the customer uploads a child’s photo to generate a fully illustrated, totally personalized children’s book that stars that child as the main character. The startup’s second book, Mount Jungle, is available starting today. Read our full story on Keepsake Tales here.


Present & Past

Durham startup ServiceTrade has landed around $30M (according to the N&O) in growth equity from Charlotte-based Frontier Growth and Durham’s own Bull City Venture Partners, which had already been an investor. ServiceTrade is a SaaS company that offers its customers—mostly in the HVAC, electrical and fire protection industries—software to schedule and manage technicians in the field.

CEO and Co-Founder Billy Marshall previously led a startup called rPath (acquired by SAS) and, back in the day, worked at Red Hat alongside BCVP Co-Founder Jason Caplain and, it turns out, GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy. In fact a little birdie told us that many Red Hatters thought Billy and Joe looked alike, though Joe insists he is the better-looking one. (OK, the birdie might have been named “Joe.”) Here’s more from the N&O, from ServiceTrade’s blog, and from the press release.


Fraud Finders

Last Thursday, Cary-based WhiteHatAI announced that it has been acquired by Atlanta-based digital health company Sharecare. WhiteHatAI is an AI startup that targets medical fraud and errors. Its proprietary AI-drive platform is called the Centaur System, which I mention mostly to reveal that I once co-wrote a movie screenplay about a disgraced explorer who actually discovers real centaurs, titled “Finding Your Centaur.” It hasn’t sold (yet, anyway) but it did lead us to, in Hollywood-speak, “taking” a bunch of meetings.

Wait, where was I? Oh, right—terms of the deal were not disclosed. See, this is why writing fiction is often more fun.


Funding News

Raleigh-based digital insurance underwriting startup SynchronoSure has raised $2.6M in equity. SynchronoSure offers AI-powered (of course) underwriting technology to help make the insurance application process faster. TechWire has more details.


Quick Adjustment

Yesterday’s TechWire also has an extensive interview with Kelly Rowell, CED’s interim CEO after three years as the VP of customer experience. Kelly makes one particularly good point: that CED was one of the first Triangle organizations that had to immediately dive into the deep end of adjusting to the pandemic when its biggest event—this year dubbed Venture Connect—had to be postponed. The conference was scheduled for March 17-19 and was the first major event on the Triangle entrepreneurial ecosystem calendar that was forced to go virtual, which CED pulled off with aplomb. Though losing the in-person element was a real shame because I was going to serve my famous Irish sodabread the night of March 17 at the GrepBeat After Party.



Cary’s MercuryGate, which provides tech for the shipping industry to keep the trains (and trucks and ships) moving on time, is another company that’s seeing demand increase during the pandemic. MercuryGate was acquired two years ago by Boston-based investment firm Summit Partners and last year made an acquisition of its own, buying automated claims processing system developer TranSolutions. TBJ has an interview with MercuryGate CEO Joe Juliano, who (among other nuggets) reveals that he likes to play classic rock and the blues on the guitar.


Them Again?

If it feels like we’ve mentioned Raleigh’s Bandwidth a bunch lately, it’s because CEO David Morken and company won’t stop making news. The public company recently released its second-quarter results, highlighted by its best year-over-year growth performance ever as everyone stuck at home has needed more bandwidth (and thus Bandwidth) than ever. TechWire and TBJ have more details.

Guess where Pete is and (maybe) win a GrepBeat mug!

If you need this game explained to you, you're probably not going to win. Send your guesses here!

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Mike Renoe is the winner of the latest News Quiz after notching a perfect 8-out-of-8 score. More about Mike: “I'm currently VP of Engineering at Takeout Central building straightforward tech that aims to give you your time back. In my spare time, I can usually be found riding bikes around the Triangle.” Congrats, Mike!


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