Keep those nominations coming for our second annual Startups To Watch list, which we’ll reveal at an invite-only event on Sept. 29. We’re looking for early-stage (<$3M in ARR) tech or tech-enabled startups HQ’d in the Triangle. Sorry, no agencies or consultancies, and no life sciences/biotech/medical devices. The deadline for nominations is next Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 5 p.m. ET.
When we first introduced GrepBeat readers to Katy Jones way back in our infancy (Oct. 10, 2018) as part of the Meet… Q&A series, she was the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Durham-based FoodLogiQ. She later ascended to COO and then, earlier this year, to the CEO chair. Recently she was tabbed by CED as one of 10 Triangle tech startup CEOs to make a (free) trip to Boston for the prestigious Business of Software conference om Sept. 26-28, which was made possible thanks to a donation from Global Data Consortium CEO Bill Spruill.
So we thought that was a great excuse to check in again with Katy and FoodLogiQ, which provides traceability and food safety compliance software solutions to food retailers and restaurants. Because really, do you know where that chicken or asparagus or granola bar has been? Read our full story here.
One hoped-for benefit of startup communities—physical and otherwise—is that founders of fledgling companies can help each other. We saw that play out live last Tuesday at the Demo Night for NC State’s Andrews Launch Accelerator at Raleigh Founded. (An event that we covered here.) Madeline Lockhart, an NC State PhD engineering student with a startup called SKANZ, was able to work the event as basically a live demo. SKANZ is a platform to manage QR codes as essentially a digital business card. Attendees checked in on SKANZ, which helped them network with each other during and after the event.
Madeline works out of Raleigh Founded in addition to her NC State ties, which helped her land the Demo Night gig. Read our full story on SKANZ here.
Little Otter Health, a Durham-based startup with San Francisco roots that we profiled in June, has acquired Little Renegades in a primarily equity-based deal for an undisclosed amount. Both startups are (or were, in the case of Little Renegades) dedicated to improving mental health for kids. Little Otter was co-founded by Rebecca Egger (who is CEO) and her mom, Dr. Helen Egger, who once ran the child psychiatry department at Duke University Hospital. You can read more about the deal in Forbes.
Durham-based startup CloudFactory—which helps companies “train and sustain” their data-driven AI models and that we first profiled in July 2020—has acquired Berlin-based Hasty, a data-centric machine learning platform. CloudFactory isn’t releasing the deal terms, but CEO Mark Sears explains the rationale for the acquisition in depth on the startup’s blog. His three key reasons: 1) advancing the shift from model-centric to data-centric AI; 2) adding AI-assisted automated labeling that is best in class; 3) integrating humans in the loop and technology to offer a true end-to-end solution. Read his whole deep dive here.
Here are some follow-ups on stories we’ve recently shared or discussed, the first three of them in Tuesday’s edition:
1) As you learned from perhaps the first ever breaking-news edition of The Download on Tuesday, Jes Lipson’s Real Magic rolled out a second software product and raised a new $6M round to fund growth. The new product is called Coffee and is a sales prospecting tool built on HubSpot. See TechWire and Triangle Inno for more, including that Durham’s Bull City Venture Partners co-led the round with Tippet Venture Partners and Jes himself.
2) TBJ has a follow story on ChannelAdvisor’s acquisition by CommerceHub for $663M that focuses on which executives and investors stand to make what from their stock holdings if it closes as expected.
3) TechWire has a Q&A with Benjamin Thompson, the new(ish) CEO of Raleigh-based edge computing startup EDJX.
Joe and I have occasionally debated on The Friday Nooner—which btw is returning next Friday from its summer hiatus—just how far the Triangle extends in GrepBeatWorld. One town in particular that has been haggled over (without resolution) is Mebane. Whether it’s just inside or outside of the Triangle proper, it’s unquestionably relevant today with news that battery maker Sunlight Group is pouring $40M into expanding its plant in Mebane, with plans to add 133 jobs over five years. It’s another sign that the Triangle and Triad are becoming hubs for battery production and, soon, production of electric vehicles. Here’s more from TechWire and TBJ.
A few weeks back we discussed a pretty disastrous earnings report and other bad news for Durham-based Avaya, a publicly traded cloud communications company that officially moved its HQ from California to the Bull City in 2020. As the company telegraphed then, layoffs have come, some of which will likely affect the Triangle. See TBJ and TechWire for more.
Even as more stories about layoffs crop up (see above), the hiring market for tech talent in the Triangle remains quite tight. One growing contributor to the race for talent is Big Tech giants like Apple and Google, which are in the midst of building substantial presences in the Triangle. Triangle Inno has more on the hiring crunch from the ground, especially for homegrown tech companies trying to compete for workers with the big dogs.
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At 3 p.m. today, the First Flight Venture Center will host (in-person and virtually) a panel titled: Does gender make a difference in the entrepreneurial world? The panelists include moderator Mary Musacchia, Elaine Bolle, Jan Davis and Maureen O’Connor. See here for more info.
It’s a bittersweet day here at GrepBeat as we say good-bye to Suzanne Blake, who has been with us as either an intern or fulltime writer since the summer of 2019. It will be quite a while—if ever—before someone passes Suzanne for most bylines in the history of grepbeat.com. (She's at 350+ and counting.) Baking her a farewell cake is the least we could do. We’re very sorry to see her go and, as the cake (literally) spells out, she’ll be missed. Good luck, Suzanne!
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