Anyone who has any sort of success with a thing — be that a product, a startup, an event — will tell you that getting that first successful launch and liftoff is phenomenally hard, the hardest thing they’ve ever done. Actually getting that thing off paper and into reality and have it be accepted successfully within the preferred target audience is huge. It takes a lot of work, and the failure rate is massive.
The second time is even harder.
I first wrote about Startup and Play back in May, immediately before their first event in Raleigh, which was a (successful) attempt to bring consumer-facing startups closer to the public. They set up camp at The Flying Saucer downtown and welcomed anyone who wanted to come and see the wares and meet the people of about nine startups from Durham and Raleigh.
They did well, and they learned a lot. Aaron Gerry is squeezing all that learning into Startup and Play 2, to be held on August 22nd at the LocalSense HQ in downtown Raleigh. You can register for it here.
The biggest change you’ll see with this version is an attempt to make the event more interactive. The first pass was very free-form, which led to startups showcasing themselves in different ways. Some of those worked, some did not.
What they realized was that the audience really enjoyed the hands-on demo of Plight of the Zombie from Spark Plug Games, so with this go-round they’re emphasizing to the companies to think about how to show, rather than talk about, their product.
Another big difference, and this might separate them from most of these types of events, is putting more emphasis on diversity in terms of the types of companies to showcase. Instead of focusing mainly on tech, Gerry hopes to bring in more food-related businesses (food trucks, CSA’s, farming/agriculture related), fashion-related startups, physical goods, and apps.
They’re also looking for diversity in the type of entrepreneurs, showcasing women-led, student-led, and minority-led startups.
Startup and Play is still building brand. Eventually, they want to get into more types of value-related programming. On a small scale, this would include community building activities like startup dinners, startup/entrepreneur weekly runs or basketball games, and on a larger scale, classes and workshops. However, those are all in the idea stage at this point.
For now, like any startup that grabs that first foothold, they’re working on making sure that the second event builds off of the success of the first.