Triangle Entrepreneurs Are Good People

I was relating a little of my history here in the Triangle to one of our TSF companies (who has moved here to be part of our 3 month program).  He was wondering how one gets something like this started.  I have written that my process is about socializing the idea with as many different people as I can to get feedback and to begin the honing of the idea to the core value prop.

When I set out to socialize the idea of a TechStars-like accelerator to operate somewhere in Raleigh, Durham or Chapel Hill, I decided that I needed to talk to 3 different constituents:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Savvy, serial startup executives who might serve as mentors
  • Investors.

Of course I also met with a 4th group of university, government & association players (what Feld calls “feeders”).

My 1st year’s journey was a wild ride.  I estimate that I sat down one-on-one with approximately 275 people for a coffee, lunch, soda or frosty beverage.  I got to know every meeting place and could at the drop of a dime figure out the middle meeting point based on where you were coming from.  By-the-way, I dont drink coffee.  (The Starbucks on 55/54 was the best as it the largest, most comfortable location and is pretty central as well.)

The single most impressive aspect to this journey is that there was just one cold call in the whole lot.  (That cold call meeting for another post.)  Every other meeting was set up as an email introduction from a previous meeting.  One cold call.  Wow.  And this fact alone speaks to the attitude of our community.  Call it a southern gentlemen-like phenomena.  Or call it representative of the DNA of startup players.  I actually dont care what the source is – it just is.

So, for those of you beginning your journey down here, take my story as a point of comfort for you.  Figure out those 1st 3 meetings that will beget the next 3 meetings.  Tell your story with passion and excitement.  Then ask for the next 3 people you should talk to.   Good luck.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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