Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bull City Startup Stampede Program Launches Seven New Companies

Durham is a place with an entrepreneurial streak that goes back to when Durham actually became a place.  As the Civil War ended here, the tobacco and textile industries grew and now the place is home to some of the world's leading technology, health care and education.

It's these humble and unpretentious beginnings that shape Durham today where ideas and hopes become realities and businesses.

The Bull City Startup Stampede 3.0 concluded last night with the seven participating companies pitching in front of a packed house at Beyu Caffe in downtown Durham. Over 120 people from throughout the Triangle’s startup ecosystem, including early-stage investors, heard the companies’ final pitches, their progress made during the 60-day initiative, and their next steps. The Stampede gave the participating companies time to focus on launching their business while covering a significant number of basic startup expenses—from space to furniture to wi-fi.

While previous Stampede classes have focused primarily on technology and software, the third Stampede displayed the diversity of industry types in Durham and the Triangle. The Bull City Startup Stampede had companies in fashion and jewelry, financial services, social media and even a jazz non-profit.

“This was a special group of entrepreneurs that supported each other and built better companies because of their time with startups outside of their industry,” said Adam Klein, Startup Strategist for the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. “We had non-software companies receiving help from the techies and vice versa. It shows the power of putting creative people together in a creative environment.”

Of the seven companies that participated in the Stampede, five are staying in Durham after the program ends. There were several highlights to the program this go around, including a seed round raised by Offline Media, a startup creating a social event platform that helps young professionals connect offline.  This is the second time a Stampede company raised money while in the Stampede. Another startup, Alekto, which works in the consumer credit space, will stay in Durham after moving from Washington, D.C. for the Stampede.

The Bull City Startup Stampede also partnered with Pruvop, a digital products lab in downtown Durham, to award one startup a prize package including $5,000 in custom software development & consulting. Pruvop co-founder Adam Schultz announced The Art of Cool as the recipient of the software package. The Art of Cool is a jazz presenting non-profit working to launch an international jazz festival in Durham.

“In addition to sharing the vision of a prospering, culturally vibrant Durham, we were personally impressed by Cicely’s (AOC founder) drive, hunger for feedback and the ability to pivot and grow rapidly based on the feedback she was given,” said Schultz. “It’s organizations like hers that we love to work with.”

Relevance Software, a software development company in Durham, provided software development consulting during the Stampede as well.

The Chamber and Downtown Durham, Inc. have partnered on two previous Bull City Startup Stampede programs which brought 28 companies to downtown Durham and leveraged over $100,000 in in-kind support.

“The Stampede is the launching ground for startups in Durham,” said Matthew Coppedge, Director of Marketing at Downtown Durham, Inc. “We are part of the pipeline developing in Durham that helps early-stage entrepreneurs go from concept to market quickly.” 

Of the 28 companies, 15 remain in downtown Durham and two Stampede companies participated in the inaugural class at the Triangle Startup Factory accelerator program. Other companies have raised seed investment rounds, won NC IDEA grants, and two companies, Bound Custom Journals and OrganicTransit, were recently featured in TechCrunch.

The following is a list of the 2012 Bull City Startup StampedeTM participants and their Twitter handles:

•    Alekto empowers consumers through innovative credit reporting management services. @AlektoCo
•    Directed Deposits helps individuals find and fund high interest, FDIC-insured savings accounts that are good for your wallets and the issues & communities you care about. @DirectedDeposits
•    Freshly Given embraces minimalist style, creativity & sustainability through accessories, handmade from genuine re-purposed leather. @FreshlyGiven
•    Offline Media is envisioning a world where "social" means more than just sitting behind a computer. @offlinemedia
•    Seam Happy designs and makes custom promotional products, decor, and apparel. For business, home, and general happiness. @SeamHappy
•    Social Media Phobia Solutions is a fearless digital media consulting and business management firm. @BreeLDavis
•    Sweeps helps you get just about anything done by motivated college students for $25 per hour. @SweepsJobs
•    The Art of Cool Project is dedicated to preserving, presenting, and promoting the local vibrant, varied, and surprisingly under-appreciated jazz and art scene in Raleigh-Durham.  @theaocproject

Durham leads the nation in the percentage of jobs in the creative class and leads the state in private sector salaries; it is widely regarded as one of the top places in the nation to start a business, and as a place for people to live and work.  Learn more about Durham's rankings online.

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