Amazingly, before last night I had never had a conversation longer than five minutes with Dave Neal, a serial CEO and the other half of Chirs and Dave from Triangle Startup Factory. I’m sorry it took so long, but I glad I finally did it. Turns out he’s awesome.
Over beers at Tyler’s at ATC, we talked about tomorrow’s TSF Pitch Day, where the first class of six makes a big splash and then gets tossed out into the wild.
Except that they don’t. Which is what we mostly talked about.
But first we talked about the scope and the magnitude of TSF and its class. The thing about the RTP, Dave says, is that the ideas here are just as good, and just as big, as anywhere else.
And with its two programs per year, a rare trait in an accelerator of this size, plus its financial offering, which places it in the top four nationwide, TSF is set to be a big concrete slab in a support structure that will be able to complement those big ideas.
But TSF still has to earn that position, Dave says, not just with the next class and the next class, but this class, at Pitch Day and after. The next class doesn’t start until August 27th, meaning there’s almost three months of down time that the existing class can use as runway.
That’s huge. Dave tells me that the startups will be allowed to hang out in the space in the Underground, and TSF will get them the right advisors and connections to get them through the next phase of their life cycle.
I ran into Deepak Gopalakrishna from RxAnalytics today, and he says he plans to take advantage of this. I’m told that Archive Social, Arcametrics, Ruzuku, Berst, and Entasso will as well. However, tomorrow, all of them except one plan to raise immediately. Guns blazing.
But it’s not just the space and the connections that will make hanging around worthwhile, it’s the community. Dave tells me that the class are good corporate citizens to one another — in my opinion, this is a direct result of the environment that he and Chris have put into place. This will allow them to keep learning from one another during this crucial next step.
It’s also the energy of American Tobacco. For example, on my way to meet Dave, I ran into one of the founders of another local accelerator, oddly enough, just outside of the Underground. Before long, our conversation was joined by a startup CEO, an angel investor, and a startup banker, all of us on our way somewhere else.
The opportunity for an early stage startup to make this kind of random contact can’t be overstated.
So it isn’t so much about what happens tomorrow, although that’s extremely important, it’s also about what happens over the next three months, then the next year, and then five years from now — because that’s how this class, and ultimately TSF, and even the Triangle startup community, will be judged, by how many of these game-changers actually changed the game.