My opinion column in yesterday’s WRAL TechWire begins to answer the question: “If the Series A Crunch is a real thing and if it’s going to impact the Triangle, where are the startups who are going to lead us out?”

And the column was a long time coming. I had been asking that question, internally and within my immediate peer group, for about three months, or about a month before I wrote the “Yes, there is a Series A Crunch” piece for the News & Observer back in January.

As I was driving out to Charlotte, very early in the morning last Thursday, for this year’s Southeast Venture Conference, I had a lot on my mind, everything from that night’s inaugural ExitEvent Startup Social Charlotte to the Series A Crunch to the very question I posed above.

Before SEVC, when I had asked who in Raleigh/Durham can raise a seven-figure Series A, the answers were mostly speculation and whispers about who might be raising and who should be raising.

But whispers aren’t enough to get to the ears of west coast investors, or any investors outside of the Triangle, and the investors here aren’t predisposed to making those kinds of local investments. We know this. Even if they did, and some do, there are too many startups here, not enough dollars.

So SEVC seemed like a good place to start getting answers (outside of those speculative whispers), and as it turned out, I found eight who, based solely on their growth and their attendance and presentations at SEVC, seemed to fit the bill.

These are the ones who are standing up and making it public that they’re ready for the next level, and hopefully those eight will start to bring more outside attention to the — probably another dozen or so — who are right behind them.

Pioneers, if you will.

So, yes, it’s a start. and it’s an incomplete list. If I left anyone out, it’s because they weren’t at SEVC, or they’re not raising, or their not tech.

Oh, yeah. I can’t believe no one caught be on my Elite Eight being seven. I actually took another look at my research, and realized one of my Elite Eight didn’t belong. So I took them out at the last minute.

But are you seriously going to read a column about an Elite Seven?

Anyway, take a read and see if you agree with me. If you do, or don’t, or if you have something further to add, please leave a comment.