The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – The Triangle’s entrepreneurial community is about to get another boost for a social event focused on networking.

On Wednesday night, “Startup and Play” kicks off in Raleigh at The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium.

“The big idea is to create a groundswell of support for consumer-facing Triangle startups by connecting the companies with the community at large,” says Aaron Gerry, an entrepreneur who is organizing the event along with Patrick Shampine.

“We both believe strongly that the Triangle community is stronger if we all work together. We want to help bridge the Durham-Chapel Hill-Raleigh ecoystems through a collective celebration of entrepreneurship.”

The two are hoping to “create a melting pot of people from across the Triangle: mix entrepreneurs and technologists with students, artists and creatives, beer connoisseurs, business people and more!”

The event is more than socializing – it’s providing attendees a chance to meet new companies and try out products.

Startups scheduled to be there include:

  • LiPi
  • FeelGoodz
  • Schmap
  • NoodleShare
  • Phream
  • Pintlabs
  • YardSprout
  • Berst
  • SparkPlug Games
  • Argyle Social

Many of the startup focused events take place in Durham, but Shampine and Gerry are convinced that Raleigh, took, can be a startup hub and a place to meet up.

“Raleigh is a great location because there is a lot of foot-traffic downtown and many of the people who work in Durham or Chapel Hill actually live in Raleigh, so it’s easy to head to the bar on the way home,” Gerry says.

There’s no doubt the startup scene across the Triangle is booming at an even faster pace than in the go-go “dot com” days.

The Startup and Play idea was hatched as its two founders discussed the startup scene.

“The idea came about from a conversation over coffee – isn’t that always the case?” Gerry says. “We were discussing why startups from Silicon Valley and New York City are particularly adept at successful product launches. In part, startups in these areas get a major boost from the community; people whom are enthusiastic to play with a beta app, provide valuable feedback and promote something new or different.

“We wanted to create an event that caters to startups in several stages:

• “For someone like Matt Senter, who has built Phream during nights and weekends, to be able to get feedback on his pitch and marketing ideas
• “For Jayson Humphrey and LiPi, help sign up beta customers
• “For Andrew Pearson and YardSprout, help spread awareness and potentially sign up paying customers.”

Gerry is a recent transplant to the Triangle from another high-tech hub – Boston.

“I have been thoroughly impressed with all of the entrepreneurial activity in the area. I have joined the LiPi team and am thrilled to continue to help bring people together through engaging events,” he explains.

Shampine, a graduate of East Carolina University, headed to Los Angeles for a while but returned to Raleigh last year and worked on business development at Syntive before launching his own firm called Biotech Benchmark.

“My focus is to foster relationship building and continue to put momentum behind our ever growing startup community in the Triangle,” Shampine says.

That effort kicks off Wednesday night.