ICYMI (understandably) during the holiday weekend: the latest The Friday Nooner, featuring guest Jes Lipson of Levitate and ShareFile fame. And there’s still plenty of time to make sure you don’t miss the IRL return of the GrepBeat Happy Hour next Thursday, June 10, from 5-7 p.m. at Bull McCabe’s in downtown Durham. The first round is on our sponsor, Hutchison, and we especially welcome anyone who moved to the Triangle during the pandemic. Register now!
Peter Zaitsev, the CEO of Durham-based open-source software and services company Percona and this week’s subject of The Download, isn’t a dabbler. Consider that he only recently got into running—and has already completed an ultra marathon. That’s like someone recently taking up driving and jumping right into the Indy 500. Peter co-founded his first startup when he was still a student at Moscow State University. After 15 years, he has grown Percona into an open-source force with about 270 employees across 40 countries. Though he’s also become enough of a Durhamite to provide some solid recs on Triangle coffee shops and restaurants. Read the full Q&A here.
Only half of all breastfeeding mothers continue breastfeeding after three months. One major factor is that for women who return to work, they often feel a lack of support—and that’s the women who come back to work at all. Raleigh-based iMama is working to reverse those trends with a platform that helps employers provide nursing moms with lactation support, including on-call lactation consultants. Founder Liliana Cantrell spun out iMama from her previous startup, lactation supplements company Sweetie Pie Organics. Sweetie Pie was acquired by a strategic buyer earlier this year.
NC IDEA awarded iMama a MICRO grant this spring. Read our full story on iMama here.
Epic v Apple
We still can’t get over the fact that the judge in the court battle between Cary’s Epic Games and Apple says she likely won’t release her written verdict until Aug. 13 at the earliest. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t speculate during that yawningly long stretch. And if it’s informed speculation that you want, Jim Verdonik of Raleigh’s Innovate Capital Law is your guy; he’s been following the case for TechWire.
As a seasoned legal observer, naturally Jim’s first question is “why was the case so short?” Yes, he’s serious. Well, sure, the original Law & Order ran for 20 years, but they were sometimes able to knock out multiple trials in just 42 minutes, minus commercials. Jim’s tldr version: the judge seems to be looking for a way to split the baby, and whatever she rules, the legal wrangling over things like app store fees and broader antitrust issues in tech will be closer to the beginning than the end.
GrepBeat followers know that we have a decided focus on startups and larger tech companies that are headquartered in the Triangle, as opposed to those HQ’d elsewhere that open an additional office here as well. Well, automation and integration startup Terazo is looking for a loophole. Terazo was founded in Richmond, but it calls Durham the “anchor” of its operations, and resists calling any location (including Richmond) its headquarters due to a distributed workforce and leadership team. Come on Terazo, pick a home base and stick with it! Then again, I root for an NFL team—the New York Giants—that has played its home games in a different state for 45 years, so who am I to talk.
Wait, where were we? Oh, right—Terazo has raised $10.5M with a lead investment from Boston-based Tercera and participation from cloud communications giant Twilio. The funding will fuel growth and hiring, including a new Charlotte office. Hey, as long as they don’t also call Charlotte their “anchor,” it’s fine with us. TechWire has more details.
Bump It Up
The self-funded, Raleigh-based equity firm Bolstered Equity Group—which likes to call itself BEG, LLC—has acquired its first company. BEG purchased 100% of Orlando-based uBump, which takes the “contact” out of the exchange of contact information. Think: being able to hold your phone close to someone else’s and seamlessly acquire their contact details. The startup will be relocating to the Triangle as part of the deal (the terms were undisclosed, natch) and looking to hire. The uBump acquisition will also serve as a case study for BEG’s plam to act as an incubator of and funder for DTC (direct to consumer) ecommerce brands. TechWire has more info.
Also in the self-funded private equity department, Raleigh’s RDF Capital has invested in Merveilleux Beauty, the West Coast company behind “Devil’s Advocate” perfume, which is endorsed by hip-hop star Iggy Azalea. RDF Capital is the newish venture of Rick French, who is also the CEO of Raleigh-based advertising and marketing agency French West Vaughan. TBJ has more info.
Durham-based EnMass Energy has raised $2.15M according to SEC filings. EnMass is building an online marketplace for waste-to-energy procurement, i.e. the procurement process for companies that turn waste into energy. TechWire has more details.
We mentioned a few weeks back to fast-growing cybersecurity startup JupiterOne—we profiled them in October—was looking to apply some of the $30M Series B it just raised into a new HQ in Morrisville. Mission accomplished: the startup is relocating into a new 7,500-square-foot space off Airport Boulevard in Morrisville. JupiterOne has about 50 employees—up from 17 last August—and plans to roughly double again by the end of the year. TBJ has more info—and pictures!
TBJ has a nice Q&A with Ryan O’Donnell, the CEO of Cary-based employee referral software firm EmployUs. One takeaway for me was Ryan’s recommendation of the bookThe Five Dysfunctions of a Teamby Patrick Lencioni. The same book—and other works by the same author—were also recommended by former Pete Meets... guest and Atlanta-based entrepreneur David Cummings. Two strong data points are now enough for me to add it to my reading list.
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I was on the fence on mentioning Duke University’s research into a “smart toilet” that uses AI to monitor your bowel health by analyzing, well, your “output.” But I couldn’t resist sharing this actual line in the story from the typically staid N.C. Biotech Center: “If this was poker, ‘Smart Toilet’ would be ‘throne down’ as a royal flush.” Hey-ohhh!