Yesterday in this column, I announced my return from a forced hiatus from the outside world, having spent the last three months in a poorly-lit room buried under unreasonable workloads strapped to unmeetable deadlines. Nothing any entrepreneur doesn’t face.
Luckily for me, this crazy time happened over the summer, where there was little to do outside of work and vacation. In fact, there were an uncharacteristically low number of startup-related events sprinkled around the Triangle from June to August.
But in order to keep myself sane and maintain my participation in the startup community, I attended as much as I could, if just to give myself an excuse to have a beer and remember what some of my friends looked like.
Now that I’m emerging back into the light, the timing is also serendipitous, as there is a veritable cornucopia of Fall events on the calendar.
I detailed four of them for you on Wednesday. Here are four more.
- NC Datapalooza
September 12th in Raleigh (Details at website)
Along with the Raleigh Innovation Summit, Datapalooza is listed as part of Triangle Entrepreneurship Week (running 9/9 to 9/12), but isn’t included in the week pass.
Datapalooza has been a long time in the making, first dating back to a roundtable discussion in Durham a little over a year ago, led by White House CTO Todd Park. I was a part of that discussion, which focused on how federally-collected data could help spur innovation in startups.
That led to the NC Data Jam, which I also attended, where working groups were formed around ideas for this data usage. Several idea teams came out of that session and work was begun on making those ideas and teams into products and/or companies.
Datapalooza will feature presentations from the top three teams, which have been incubated over the month of August.
Honestly, I’ve been on the fence about this program from its inception, mostly because I’m on the fence about government’s role in startups, but also because, and I’ve written about this before, I think you can make a feature out of data, but not a product. You have to bring the product to the data.
My hope is that some solid product ideas found their way into Datapalooza and will become game-changers because of Datapalooza. But I also hope I never have to say or type the word Datapalooza again. In fact, I’ll give them money if they change the name of the event for next year.
September 12th to 15th in Raleigh (Details at website)
This one is a little out there. But not every event needs to be about valuation and lean.
SparkCon is a Raleigh gathering of all things creative, with a for-the-people-by-the-people approach. Ideas, participants, and organizers are crowd-sourced during the preceding year, and in a Startup-Weekend-like manner, the top events (workshops, presentations, interactive demonstrations) happen during four days in downtown Raleigh. Events are split into about a dozen categories, including art, music, theatre, design, film, even dance and circus.
If you go to SparkCon, and you don’t go to circusSpark, you didn’t go to SparkCon.
No, this is not startup-related, but the vibe is. In fact, some years ago, SparkCon had carved out a space for startups and startup-related activity. I think at the time it was called techSpark. The closest category I could find this year is geekSpark, which will feature gaming and makering, among other startup-like niches.
Go if you need a creative slap in the face, or if you believe the left side of your brain contributes as much to your startup as the right side.
- The ExitEvent Startup Social
September 16th in Chapel Hill (Details at website)
OK, so I’m a homer for this event, not because it’s mine, but because I believe in what it has become over the last two years. This will be the 21st iteration of the Startup Social, with each one more awesome than the last (except that one time, if you were there you know which one).
The good and the bad of the Social is that it’s entrepreneur and investor only. I feel good about it because it provides maximum value for entrepreneurs at almost no cost to them or us, and in that it’s the only one of its kind. I feel bad about it because I have to tell people no. But then, I’m giving you seven other events to go to, so I don’t feel that bad.
All that’s required to attend this event is that you’re a verified entrepreneur, meaning you’re not going to start that company some day based on that idea you had some time ago. You’ve actually got skin in the game somewhere, working on something unique, not just a service or variation of an existing.
The September version is at a top-secret location in Chapel Hill. Others are spread around downtown Durham, downtown Raleigh, downtown Charlotte, and (downtown?) Hillsborough.
Go if you’re an early-to-serial exit entrepreneur or angel or VC. Expect lots of conversation, but no nametags, no speeches, and no selling.
- CED Venture 2013
September 17th – 19th in Raleigh (Details at website)
With your hangover from the Social firmly in place, you’ll want to go to the 29th CED Venture conference, if you have a reason to be there. However, bear in mind that you don’t necessarily have to be presenting or demoing at this conference, you just have to be raising, or thinking about raising.
True with any venture conference, the most important stuff happens on the fringes — networking events, formal and informal meetings, and chance encounters. I’ve spent entire venture conferences in the hallway outside the ballroom, casually enjoying a coffee or a soda and meeting more investors in eight hours than I do in a year.
It takes a lot of energy and an extroverted nature to pull that off, but if you can, conferences like these are invaluable.
Go if you’re raising or thinking about raising.
The best part about all of this, of course, is that even after a dry summer, there are at least eight startup-related or startup-useful events being held in the Triangle over a two-week span. If you’re like me, and can remember back when there were just two annual conferences in the Triangle that carved out parts of their agenda for startups, this seems unreal.
You don’t have to attend all of them. You shouldn’t attend all of them. But no matter what your focus, the options are pretty solid.
Editor’s note: Joe Procopio is a serial entrepreneur, writer, and speaker. He is VP of Product at Automated Insights and the founder of startup network and news resource ExitEvent. Follow him at @jproco or read him at http://joeprocopio.com