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Happy Thursday!

It’s less than 24 hours until tomorrow’s LIVE half-hour episode of The Nooner, which you can watch on either Facebook Live or YouTube Live starting at 12 noon. (Sign up now at the links to get those sweet, sweet calendar notifications.) The Nooner features Pete and GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy talking all things Triangle tech. And yes, you may have noticed that GrepBeat Live! actually edged The Nooner in our Twitter poll of potential program names. But much like America, GrepBeat isn’t a democracy, and the sooner we all realize that, the better.

Not Playing Around

Rachael Classi, a former VP of Strategy at Durham’s Teamworks, has two young daughters—ages 3 and 18 months—so she’s seen up close the treadmill of new, and soon-disposed, plastic toys that clutter playrooms and, eventually, landfills. She’s addressing that problem through her new startup Tiny Earth Toys, a subscription service for re-usable, high-quality wooden toy sets that are exchanged every four months. After two successful pilots this fall, Tiny Earth Toys is rolling out to the 150 families on its wait list. Read our full story here.


Staying Afloat

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the pandemic on our local brick-and-mortar businesses, especially restaurants and bars. Dr. William Putsis, a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, launched Brij back in March to help them. Brij is a platform that makes it easier for customers to support their favorite local haunts with donations, which the businesses can “reward” by, for example, naming a table or chair for the person who donated. Durham eateries including Cocoa Cinnamon and NuvoTaco are among those on the Brij platform, which can also be used by everything from nail salons to local charities. Read our full story on Brij here.


Happy Birthday!

They grow up so fast! By “they,” of course, we mean coworking-slash-startup communities like Durham’s American Underground, which recently turned 10 years old. Yesterday’s TechWire ran a long feature story about AU’s origins and growth, which featured many boldface names in the Triangle tech community. Did you know that the first three tenants were Chris Heivly, Glen Caplan and CED? Chris, who now trots around the world helping Techstars create startup ecosystems, was then running the accelerator program LaunchBox Digital. Glen, who is now a partner at law firm Robinson Bradshaw overseeing deals like those of GrepBeat sibling Jurassic Capital, was then running Joystick Labs, an accelerator for video game companies. (CED was, well, CED.)
Other early tenants quoted in the story include Triangle startup founders James Avery (Kevel, née Adzerk), Nick Jordan (Smashing Boxes) and Anil Chawla (ArchiveSocial). Read the full story here.


Funding News I

Durham-based Keen Decision Systems, which we profiled in February, 2019, has reportedly banked an additional $2M to close out a $6.5M fundraise. Keen makes software to help companies measure the efficiency and impact of their marketing-investment decisions.


Funding News II

Allobee, a Durham-based managed marketplace for small businesses and startups with a particular focus on working women, has raised $500K in a round led by Oregon-based Stargazer Ventures. We wrote about Allobee and founder Brooke Markevicius back in May when the platform first launched under the name MOMentum Marketplace. Allobee’s rapid growth in the eight months since led to the investment, with the hopes of adding some rocket fuel to its ascent. Click here for more info.


Headline Makers

Cary’s SAS Institute has been busy this week, announcing both a new acquisition and a new CTO. The acquisition is of UK-based Boemska, which specializes in “low-code/no-code application development and analytic workload management” tools. Of course if you read GrepBeat’s collection of predictions for 2021 from Triangle tech luminaries, you’d already know that no- or low-code platforms to develop apps, even at an enterprise scale, is going to be a major, growing trend.
SAS also promoted longtime exec Bryan Harris to the CTO role, then jumped through all sorts of semantic hoops to argue that he wasn’t “replacing” Oliver Schabenberger, who recently resigned while holding the titles of COO and (you guessed it) CTO, as well as the unofficial title of presumed heir apparent to CEO Jim Goodnight. See more from TechWire (here and here) and TBJ.


Local Acquisition

In September, 2019, we profiled Durham-based Boon, a then-new startup that was launched as a marketplace to find temporary healthcare workers—think dental assistants, nurses, and veterinarians. This week, investment crowdfunding site CrowdfundNC acquired Boon for its two-sided marketplace tech. The move will enable CrowdfundNC to expand the services it offers to entrepreneurs. Click here for more info.


Rankings Are Back!

It feels like it’s been a whole year since we shared any rankings. So here’s the first for 2021: the trade publication Business Facilities magazine named North Carolina its “2020 State of the Year” for corporate investment. You might be surprised to learn that I don’t actually subscribe to Business Facilities, though I usually purchase its annual swimsuit edition on the newsstand. (TechWire and TBJ have more info.)


Make It Legal

Hutchison is a boutique law firm that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit and steers technology and life sciences entrepreneurs to success through all stages of their company’s life. Hutchison partners with entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-minded organizations to enable business solutions that make the law work for them, and advises angel investors and venture capital firms to support their investment selections to maximize their potential for success. Hutchison takes the time to learn your business and understand what’s behind the deal.


Extra Bit

NC IDEA is kicking off its Spring 2021 grants cycle with a virtual info session on Friday, Jan. 23 at 3 pm and virtual office hours. Applications open on Feb. 1. Click here for more info.

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

Brian Krug is this week’s winner for correctly identifying that I was at the Remedy Diner in Raleigh. More from Brian: “I work for Seguno, the pre-pandemic GrepBeat roomie which is now rocking the Shopify email marketing world remotely. When I’m not missing seeing Pete around the office, I lead learning and enablement for the awesome Goonie team. I also hold the distinction of #1 consumer account for 2020 for Raleigh Coffee Company, so yeah, I drink a lot of coffee.” Brian says that he doesn’t have a picture of himself drinking coffee—likely story—so instead he’s providing the below shot of his niece “demonstrating a proper coffee stance.” His niece reportedly favors a 4-1 ratio of half-and-half to coffee. What, no sugar?


Because too much news is never enough

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