Right about the time you read this Pete will be (hopefully) boarding a plane for a weekend trip, but The Friday Nooner must go on. GrepBeat Godfather Joe Colopy will be joined by guest co-host Jason Caplain (Bull City Venture Partners). Together they will welcome guest Michael Jones, Spoonflower's CEO and a former Download subject. You can watch (and comment on in real time) the half-hour show live at noon on Friday on LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube, or afterward on those same platforms.
Now get out those calendar markers: the next GrepBeat Happy Hour will be in Raleigh at the Lynwood Brewing Concern at 1053 E Whitaker Mill Road on Thursday, Oct. 14. Your first round will be courtesy of our gracious sponsor, Fourscore Business Law. Register here, now!
This week’s guest on Kevin Mosley’s Exit Stories (sponsored as always by Vaco) is Triangle startup vet Richard Holcomb. Richard knows his way around exits from all sides of the table, including three times as a Co-Founder of software startups going all the way back to a 1994 exit with his Q+E Software. (Our writer Claire Perry came off the top rope by spelling out that the date was “before most of GrepBeat’s staff was even born.” Ouch!)
At Q+E they rebuffed a lowball $1M acquisition offer from Microsoft with a counter-offer for a measly $1 per copy of a fledgling Microsoft software product—a little spreadsheet program called Excel. Let’s just say that was a great deal for Q+E and led to a much heftier exit a while later.
Read our highlights of the episode here, then listen to it (and subscribe!) here.
Raleigh-based AI startup Pryon has raised $12M, according to SEC filings. Raising cash is nothing new for Pryon, which raised $24M in 2019. You’ll likely recall that Pryon is led by CEO Igor Jablokov, a former Download Q&A subject—whom I’ve dubbed the Most Interesting Man Alive, at least in the Triangle. Igor sold his last startup (Yap) to Amazon, where its voice recognition tech was used in the Alexa. TechWire has some more info.
Speaking of AI, a Cary-based startup that uses it to help analyze CT scans and MRIs has raised $1M in seed funding. CoRead AI is led by Lawrence Ngo, a radiologist and an associate adjunct professor at the Duke University School of Medicine, along with his co-founder Jacob Johnson. The AI algorithms help cover radiologists’ literal and figurative blind spots. Triangle Inno has more detail.
Big Launch Challenge
VC firm The Launch Place has announced the 10 finalists who will pitch live at the 9th annual Big Launch Challenge on Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. at the NC Biotech Center in RTP. The startups include four that we’ve previously written about on GrepBeat: MyMatR, Green Stream Technologies, LiRA and Greppys winner Flux Hybrids. The Big Launch Challenge is part of a two-day event starting on the afternoon of Oct. 13 that includes the Angel Capital Association’s (ACA) Angel University, which will offer two seminars. The Launch Place is HQ’d in Danville, Va., but also has an RTP office.
The pitch contest is free, but you do need to register. And after the Big Launch Challenge, you can pop down to Raleigh for our GrepBeat Happy Hour at Lynwood Brewing Concern, sponsored by Fourscore.
Here’s more detail on something we crammed into the end of Tuesday’s newsletter because we had just learned about it then: angel network VentureSouth is launching a new group in the Triangle, which will be (understandably) called VentureSouth Triangle. VentureSouth has already invested in 15 Triangle startups, including luminaries like Spiffy, Reveal Mobile, GrepBeat Startups To Watchhonoree MemberHub, Trio Labs, and Baebies. VentureSouth Managing Director Matt Dunbar was also previously a guest on our Pete Meets... podcast.
VentureSouth Triangle will hold an interest meeting on Oct. 13 if you would like to learn more. You can register here. The location is still TBD, but it will be an in-person, catered breakfast meeting.
Heading S by SW
North Carolina—and the Triangle in particular—will be well-represented at Venture Atlanta on Oct. 21-22. Venture Atlanta picked 13 NC startups, which comprise 30% of the firms participating. We mentioned one of those startups, Klearly, last week because they gave us a heads up. So did ImpactKarma, which we profiled last April. In fact we’ve already written profiles on nine of the 13 NC startups. (The remaining seven: Courtroom5, K4Connect, Peoplelogic.ai, RepVue, Second Nature, Tyrata and Zoee, which was formerly called SoleLife.)
Of the others, one more is in the works (recent GrepBeat Startups To Watch honoree biospatial), two are from other parts of the state (who’s got time for that?) and the last is Raleigh-based The Diversity Movement, which is led by Donald Thompson, the former CEO (and current board chair) of marketing firm Walk West.
We’re not saying that Venture Atlanta simply reads GrepBeat to pick its startups, but we’d be fine if they did. One last nugget: none other than this week’s Friday Nooner guest co-host, BCVP’s Jason Caplain, is a board member of Venture Atlanta. Here’s where we’d usually make a snarky comment about how much Jason loves not-the-Triangle markets, but we’re going to take the high road. (TechWire has details here.)
This week’s TechWire “future unicorns of Raleigh” series—that’s not it’s official name, but maybe it should be—alights upon red-hot edge computing startup EDJX, led by formerDownload Q&A subject John Cowan. And we gotta say, we were impressed by John’s ability to trash-talk. Consider this: “We could far exceed Pendo... It’s not hyperbole. It’s not a stretch to see EDJX at about $1 billon of enterprise value within the next 12 to 18 months.” Of course, Pendo was valued at $2.6B in its latest fundraise this summer, but we’d be happy to sponsor a cage match between John and Pendo CEO Todd Olson, with the proceeds going to help the Triangle startup ecosystem, of course.
John is also pretty certain that edge computing, and the IoT economy that it will help power, is a really, really big opportunity. Or, in his words, it will “dwarf everything that came before. It’s going to be bigger than cloud computing, mobile computing, e-commerce; it will be bigger than all of it.” Somebody get this man a podcast, pronto! (You can find the TechWire stories here and here.)
Getcha Interns Here!
UNC and Central Carolina Community College are hosting a two-part Carolina Startup Connect on Thursday, Nov. 4 and Wednesday, Nov. 10 at UNC. The event will connect local startups with potential student interns. And who doesn’t love student interns, even when they go out of their way to remind you how old you are? (See Item No. 1.) You can find more info here.
If you’re looking for coworking space, you can always play it safe and glom on to a big chain like WeWork. And hey, they’re perfectly nice. But if you’re looking for something more local, gritty and—dare we say it—cool, then the soon-to-open Durham Bottling Company may be for you. Smashing Boxes CEO Nick Jordan bought the space at 506 Ramseur Street a few years back as a new company HQ but always had grander plans for the 16,000+ square feet. Enter Durham Bottling Company (DBC), which might sound like a new nightlife concept but is in fact a coworking and event space with a stated mission to create a more inclusive and diverse community. DBC offers all the usual amenities you’d expect (free coffee, hot desks, private offices, etc.) but also has a sister nonprofit entity that will help stage a monthly event series. You can get on the waitlist here.
Guess where Pete is and (maybe) win a GrepBeat mug!
This week’s winner is Brad Brandhorst for correctly identifying my location as Cary’s Java Jive. If you drew up a Venn diagram of the perfect Where’s Pete contestant, Brad would be right in the sweet spot. Consider: “For about 12 years, I was the Director of Coffee for Larry’s Coffee in Raleigh, where I sourced and roasted coffee for Java Jive (which is why I recognized it). I made a career shift into software development after doing the bootcamp thing, and am currently employed at IBM as a UI developer on their edge computing product, IBM Edge Application Manager.” Congrats, Brad!