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Happy Tuesday!

We hope you were soaking up the sun yesterday on the longest day of the year, but with clouds (and rain) rolling in this afternoon, it would be a great time to catch up on: 1) The latest The Friday Nooner, in which we discuss the impressive workout regimen of Spoonflower CEO Michael Jones that was doubtless a major factor behind the Shutterfly deal; 2) The second edition of GrepBeat’s This Week in 90 Seconds. Enjoy!

For Starters

Being a good storyteller isn’t a vital skill just for novelists, TV writers and Taylor Swift. It’s also extremely important to running a startup, since the stories you tell about how your company came to be and its mission are crucial to landing investors, customers and employees.

That’s the topic of Episode 4 of Robbie Allen’s For Starters podcast, brought to you by Robinson Bradshaw law firm. Robbie welcomes guests James Kotecki of Infinia ML (arguably best known for once writing a edition of the GrepBeat newsletter), Freedom CEO Fred Stutzman (a former GrepBeat Q&A subject) and Scot Wingo (surely you know who he is by now). You can skim some highlights of the latest episode here, then listen (and subscribe!) here.


For Rent(als)

Buying rental properties can be a good investment, but it brings a big potential headache: managing said properties. That’s where William Armstrong hopes that his new startup, Ivan AI, will come in. Raleigh-based Ivan AI is a virtual property manager that uses, you guessed it, AI to offer the services of a traditional, flesh-and-blood property manager at roughly half the cost. The startup is participating in the current cohort of the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP). Fun fact: William graduated in 2018 from the University of Akron, which is located in the hometown of GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy.
Read our full story on Ivan AI here. And if you’re a property owner looking to be a part of the beta, email William here.


Cloud Coverage

These days, it seems that we can’t go more than a week without hearing about a significant internet outage for anything from airlines to news sites to gas pipelines, whether due to ransomware or simply the vagaries of managing a large system—and those are just the outages that make national news. That environment is surely part of what makes Durham-based Arpio, which we first wrote about last March, so timely. Arpio is a SaaS startup that eliminates downtime for applications that run in the cloud by making it easy to recover from major outages due to ransomware, platform downtime, human error or true calamities like Nick Saban winning yet another national championship.
Co-founded by Doug Neumann (CEO) and Shaw Tewilliger (CTO)—who previously worked together at both Bandwidth and Microsoft Azure—Arpio participated in the Winter 2021 cohort of the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator. Now that they’ve completed YC, Arpio has raised a $2.2M seed round from YC, San Francisco-based Uncorrelated Ventures and Atlanta’s Valor Ventures.


Born Again

It’s been two years and 11 days since we first wrote about Raleigh’s Reborn Clothing and its founder, Emily Neville, who was then a senior at NC State. Reborn Clothing turns old clothing, whether from consumers or the excess promotional clothing or merchandise from universities or corporations, into new items ranging from tote bags to dog bandanas. Now TBJ reports that Emily and Reborn will test the waters with a brick-and-mortar location, taking over a lease through the end of 2021 in Raleigh’s North Hills. In addition to buying Reborn products, customers can also bring in their used apparel and textiles to have them, well, reborn.


Winning Gold

Raleigh-based edtech startup VitalSource Technologies has won a gold medal in the 2021 IMS Learning Impact Awards for its partnership program, Equitable Access, which it offers in collaboration with the University of California-Davis. Equitable Access delivers digital course materials for a flat, per-term fee of $199. Considering that books and other course materials for some classes, especially in STEM fields, can be significantly more expensive, the program enables greater access to classes since students can budget for a fixed and (relatively) reasonable cost. TechWire has more details.


He's Back!

OK, so Oliver Schabenberger never really left the Triangle. But the former SAS executive who was long considered the heir apparent to Jim Goodnight is now the Chief Innovation Officer of San Francisco-based database management firm SingleStore, charged with building out its Triangle presence into a “Launch Pad innovation center.”
Formerly known as MemSQL, SingleStore has raised a total of $238.1M to date and counts giants such as Uber and Pinterest among its customer base. It currently has about 230 employees across its operation and plans to add about 50 employees in the Triangle. TBJ has more info, including news on a Raleigh open house this Thursday (June 24) from 9 a.m. to noon for job-seekers and anyone else curious about the company. Or maybe you just want to say hello to Oliver.


Staying On Task

Tracey Hawkins falls into that category of entrepreneur who at first was simply trying to solve a specific problem in her own life, and only later decided to turn that into a business. In Tracey’s case, she was looking for a way to help her sons, who are on the autism spectrum, better manage their day. That effort has led to her startup, Thriving on the Spectrum, which is developing an app designed to assist children with autism and their parents. TBJ has the full story.



NC IDEA announced this morning that it has received an historic $1.25M commitment from the Research Triangle Foundation (RTF). NC IDEA is wasting no time putting that money to work, awarding a total of $250K in ECOSYSTEM grants to seven organizations to help amplify equitable entrepreneurial growth across the state. Three of the organizations are in Durham: NC Central University, Sankofa Farms and Communities in Partnership. See the full release here.


Build Better

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!


Extra Bit

While Google Cloud is still working on building its engineering hub in Durham—the first group of employees of what will eventually be up to 1,000 are expected to arrive fairly soon—another arm of Google has been in the Bull City for years. That would be Google Fiber, which has a physical office on Chapel Hill Street in downtown Durham, very close to my favorite lunch spot (Toast). Durham is actually the East Coast hub of Google Fiber, which continues to build out its network in the Triangle. You can read more about their local initiatives here.


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