Anil Chawla is the founder of Archive Social, an automated self-service solution available to any organization that needs to keep trustworthy records of social media. We’ve written about Anil and Archive Social several times, including their Triangle Startup Factory graduation and NC IDEA grant win in June 2012 and when they signed a deal with the North Carolina State Archives in December.

Adding to an impressive win list, Archive Social was selected to the 2013 TiE50 on Saturday, a Valley organization that touts itself as recognizing the world’s most enterprising technology startups. Previous winners include HubSpot, oDesk, and Cloudera, among others.

I’m without laptop but let me throw down the story here on my iPad. I’m still at the conference.

It all started when I received a flyer in the mail (yes, snail mail) inviting Archive Social to apply for the TiE50 about two months ago. I was somewhat familiar with TiE, but had to check out the website to see if the competition was legit.

Speakers listed on the site included LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Chris Anderson, Facebook’s CIO, and the founder of 5-hour Energy.

5-hour Energy, if nothing else, is clearly legit.

Plus, the nomination application was a breeze and took me 5 minutes to fill out online.

About two weeks later, I received an email invitation to fill out a full application. This was a bigger decision point because I knew it would take a few hours. And I have filled out way too many applications for this company already (although the conversion rate has been pretty good too). I decided to do it, and it took me about 4 or 5 hours.

Three weeks ago, I got the notification that we made the cut as a TiE50 finalist. Given that there are more than 1,000 worldwide applicants, this was pretty cool. Even bigger decision point. We would have to attend the TiEcon conference in Silicon Valley if we wanted to win.

The trip would not be cheap, and and I was already tired of traveling. Plus, I would miss my invaluable baby-weekend time. More importantly, it felt like we had already achieved the best cost-value ratio with the finalist selection.

Ultimately, I decided to go — not just to win the competition — but also because the CEO of a tiny startup in Durham, North Carolina needs to do every damn thing possible to pull the odds on our side.

The size of the conference (3,000 attendees) + the opportunity to create mind share in Silicon Valley + our involvement in the competition seemed to be enough justification.

Was it worth it?

Well, we won. But the jury is still out on the true value of me being here.

I was put on the spot yesterday to come up with an inspirational quote. Here’s what I came up with, and it speaks to our the decision to attend (I kinda surprised myself with this, and will probably start saying it randomly in conversation with strangers moving forward): They say knowledge is power. But if you never try, you’ll never know.