Editor’s note: WRAL Tech Wire asked Aaron Gerry to blog about the first “Startup and Play” event. Gerry says he is deeply passionate about building the community and loves bringing people together. An entrepreneur at heart, Aaron is the Curator of the RTP StartupDigest and Co-Founded the “Smartest Damn Alarm Clock.” Recently joining the LiPi team, Aaron is thrilled to help create more engaging events. Aaron enjoys meeting new people, connect with him on twitter @AaronGerry!

RALEIGH, N.C. – Wednesday night marked the first ever Startup and Play and, well, it was a lot of fun! With 10 showcasing startups, over 200 attendees (thank you all for coming!) and a venue where “the beer flowed like wine,” I humbly deem the event a success.

A little background

The big idea was to help create a groundswell of support for consumer-facing Triangle startups. As organizers, Patrick Shampine and I wanted to connect the companies directly with the community at large (including entrepreneurs and technologists, but opening it up to students, artists and creatives, beer connoisseurs and more). Thanks to Flying Saucer and their “Brewery Nite,” the setting was ripe for a melting pot of people.

It’s your show

In an ode to one of our favorite local events, ExitEvent, we believed Startup and Play should be casual. The startups had free reign over their table set up and true to form, the companies let their personality shine through. Showcasing companies included LiPi, FeelGoodz, SparkPlug Games, Schmap, NoodleShare, Phream, Pintlabs, YardSprout, Berst, and Argyle Social.

Each company had a distinguished approach and worked the room as they deemed fit. Of note, PintLabs unveiled a beautiful new banner, SparkPlug Games demoed their newest game, Plight of the Zombie! and Sidney Hargrove of NoodleShare humorously created a display that prompted the crowd to “talk to the guy in the plaid shirt,” while he mingled.

A slow trickle

Not knowing what to expect, 6:30 struck and we had a group of startups and organizers that far outnumbered the crowd. Nervous excitement began to percolate inside me… would anyone show up?

The dam burst!

As the minutes passed, the stream of attendees quickly began to rise. An hour in and the room was packed. What was once a quiet murmur was now a boisterous roar of chatter and the event was on!

Startups were pitching. The crowd was talking and firing off questions. People were being introduced. Beer was enjoyed and entrepreneurship was celebrated!

We got Guerilla’d!

In light of the free form nature of the event, LiveGumption took full advantage of the opportunity and came prepared with an arsenal of schwag and their street team in tow. Well played!

Thank you all for attending!

Thank you to everyone who came, the startups who were willing to showcase and for everyone who supported the initiative and made the event possible!

When is the next one?

Startup and Play will be a regular event, though we are unsure of the frequency (quarterly, monthly, weekly?). If anyone would like to get involved and help us plan the next one, let us know!

Keep the fun going!

Join us at LiPi’s office for #FirstFridayRal! Come to The Carter Building on Friday at 6:30 pm for more socializing with startups and local artists. Free beer and cornhole to be had!

(C) Aaron Gerry