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Happy Tuesday!

The inaugural March Mugness has reached the Coffee Championship! It’s an all-Bull City showdown pitting Cocoa Cinnamon v. Guglhupf after Guglhupf edged Raleigh’s Morning Times 25-24 at the buzzer in one Final Four(score) semi while Cocoa Cinnamon breezed past Cary's La Farm in the other. Go vote now! The polls will be open until this Friday at 11am with the winner to be announced live on The Friday Nooner. See below for more info, and thanks to our sponsor Fourscore Business Law.
One of Lewis Sheats’ claims to fame is that the NC State Entrepreneurship Czar took the “Where’s Pete?” photo at Videri Chocolate, which may have helped propel Videri into the March Mugness Elite Eight. Now he has another claim to fame: guest on The Friday Nooner. Watch the latest episode here!

And last but not least, please welcome our sole newsletter sponsor for Q2: our friends at Dualboot Partners. They will be featured in each and every newsletter this quarter. If you have any development needs, give them a shout! (And if you want to get yourself the Dualboot treatment, give us a shout!)


One could argue that launching any startup is akin to shooting for the stars. Now Triangle startups might find real help for their would-be rocket-ship ride from the same folks who send things to Mars and beyond. NASA is targeting the Triangle in particular in its efforts to enable startups to make use of the 400-plus patents available in its portfolio. Startups can access the patents for free for three years with no upfront fee, with a royalty only kicking in after four years. The patents are in a variety of areas ranging from IT to sensors to robotics to biotech. Read our full story on NASA’s Technology Transfer Expansion Program (T2X) here.


SEED Semis

NC IDEA has announced the 25 semifinalists for its $50K SEED grants. Nine of the 25 are from the Triangle, including a quartet that we have previously featured on Durham’s GreenToGo, Lumen Design Group, and Rownd. The others are Wake Forest-based Advanced Materials Manufacturing; Raleigh’s Shipmint; Morrisville’s Vetletics; and Durham-based Couplet Care and Protect3d. The list will be trimmed in April to the finalists, who will present to the review panel, with the 5-7 grant-winners announced in early May. See the full list of semi-finalists here.


Bitcoin Backers

Bitcoin has been having an extended moment, which is buoying one (mostly) Durham-based startup. Lolli is an e-commerce site that gives consumers rewards in the form of Bitcoin rather than cash, which is kind of a gateway drug to the world of cryptocurrencies. Late last week, Lolli announced that it has raised $5M in a round that was co-led by tennis great Serena Williams. Lolli is officially HQ’d in New York, which is where CEO (and UNC grad) Alex Adelman is based, but CTO (and NC State grad) Matt Senter is based in Durham and some 90% of Lolli’s staff has been based in NC since the start of the pandemic. See TechWire and TBJ for more info.


Coworks Cash

It’s been, shall we say, an “interesting” 12 months to be in the coworking space given that whole global pandemic thing. But with vaccinations proceeding apace it won’t be long before plenty of people will want to emerge from their home office into a coworking space for at least a few days a week. Raleigh’s Coworks, which makes management software for coworking spaces, is filling its war chest for the resurgence. Coworks—which we wrote about in January, 2019—has closed on nearly $750K on a planned $1.1M seed round. TechWire has more details.


Local Investors

Durham-based Resilient Ventures, which targets Black-owned startups, has closed on $3.45M in funding. We wrote about Resilient and its Co-Founders Keith Daniel and Tom Droege in June, 2019. So far the fund has invested in eight companies, five of which are based in the Triangle. They include the Beyu Group, which owns Durham coffee shop—and March Mugness Elite Eight “team”—Beyu Caffe. (More on Beyu: TBJ recently ran a feature on Beyu and its founder, Dorian Bolden.) TechWire has more info on the Resilient raise.
Another local fund has raised a hefty $155.5M, though little (if any) is expected to be deployed into Triangle startups. Chapel Hill-based TrueBridge Capital is primarily a fund-of-funds, i.e. it invests in high-profile VC funds from across the nation. It also makes some direct investments, typically alongside some of those same VC funds. See TechWire for more details.


Non-Local Investors

Atlanta is pretty clearly the Southeast’s biggest tech hub outside the Triangle, and that goes for check-writers as well as investors. And now there’s a new checkbook in town: ATL-based seed fund Overline, which announced this morning that it has closed a first fund of over $27M. Overline founder Michael Cohn and Sean O’Brien say they will target pre-seed and seed-stage tech startups in the Southeast, explicitly including the Triangle.
Meanwhile Atlanta-based growth investor Fulcrum Equity Partners also wants to make known that it is targeting Triangle startups, especially B2B SaaS companies with annual revenue in the $2-$10M range. Fulcrum’s portfolio includes Durham’s Kevel (formerly Adzerk) and Raleigh-based GoPivot. See TBJ for more info.


Join The Club

American Underground and Momentum Learning are teaming to launch a new, twice-monthly “Club” on the social platform Clubhouse that’s focused on Triangle startups. The hour-long sessions will feature one local entrepreneur sharing a “How I built X” story, as well as a featured resource and two pitches from area startups. The first session will be Friday, April 16, from 12-1pm and will feature Pendo Co-Founder Eric Boduch as well as pitches from Rachael Classi, the Founder of Durham’s Tiny Earth Toys (which we featured in January) and Zainab Baloch, the Founder of YAP!. We like everything about this except that it will air on alternate Fridays from 12-1, which overlaps with our Friday Nooner (which is 12-12:30 every Friday). See TechWire for more details.



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!


Because too much news is never enough.


Here's some helpful content from our partners.

You can find our full Partner News page here.

It's March Mugness time!

The Coffee Championship matchup is set! To wit:
Cocoa Cinnamon (Downtown Durham Region) v. Guglhupf (Burbs + NC State Region)
It’s time to go vote here! The polls will be open until this Friday, April 2, at 11am ET. The winner will be revealed LIVE on The Friday Nooner.
Thanks again to Fourscore Business Law, the sponsor for the Final Four(score) and Coffee Championship round. (And if you want a quick and easy way to learn about stuffy legal subjects, check out their Briefs section.)
The final pairing was in doubt until Guglhupf eked out a one-vote win (25-24) over Downtown Raleigh’s Morning Times in a Final Four(score) game that had been tied in the closing seconds. (OK, closing hours.) Meanwhile Cocoa Cinnamon romped over Cary's La Farm in the other semi, 46-10.
Here’s a look at how the two finalists got here:
1st Round: Cocoa Cinnamon 50, Joe Van Gogh 30
Sweet 16: Cocoa Cinnamon 36, Mad Hatter’s 13
Elite Eight: Cocoa Cinnamon 26, Beyu Caffe 22
Final Four(score): Cocoa Cinnamon 46, La Farm 10
1st Round: Guglhupf 52, Benelux 18
Sweet 16: Guglhupf 41, Jubala Coffee 7
Elite Eight: Guglhupf 32, Liquid State 11
Final Four(score): Guglhupf 25, Morning Times 24
For full March Mugness coverage, here are the stories on the Final Four(score), Elite Eight, Sweet 16 and first round.
And go vote in the Coffee Championship now!

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