The next ExitEvent Startup Social coming up on Feb. 24 at the new American Underground @Raleigh will take place under new management.

The American Underground, which is owned by Capitol Broadcasting, is expanding into the social events and news business with the acquisition of ExitEvent.

Joe Procopio, a Triangle entrepreneur and a frequent contributor to WRALTechWire, sold the ExitEvent franchise to Capitol in a deal that is being formally announced today.

Procopio will remain involved in Exit Event as a member of a board that has been formed to oversee its operation, according to Adam Klein, the director of American Underground.

“Joe will serve as part of our regional board as well as serve a strategic role in setting the direction of Exit Event,” Klein said. “He will also continue writing posts for Exit Event and attend the social. This will give Laura more time to ramp into the role and ensure the Exit Event site maintains many of the aspects of its ethos that have made it successful.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Underground plans to expand “Startup Socials” and has hired an editor who says she has aggressive plans to offer news coverage of startups.

Laura Baverman, a former business reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Business Courier, is the editor. She has lived in the Triangle for the past year and has written for several publications such as USA Today about startups as well as entrepreneurship.

CBC is also the parent firm of WRALTechWire, which operates as part of CBC’s New Media division.

The American Underground is part of CBC’s real estate group, which owns the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham. The Underground has a complex at American Tobacco and another complex in downtown Durham known as Underground @Main.

Klein told WRALTechWire the acquisition is part of American Underground’s commitment to grow the region’s entrepreneurial community. The effort includes more than social events, which average around 100 people and in the past have been invitation only with attendees pre-screened by Procopio.

  • Inside the deal: A Q&A about why American Underground acquired ExitEvent

“Capitol made the acquisition because ExitEvent meets a long-identified need in the Triangle: A resource dedicated to delivering all the information startups and investors need to succeed,” Klein said.

“A resource with an obsessive focus on NC-based startups, opportunities and related topics. A resource to disseminate our region’s success stories around the country and the world.

“Expect a wide variety of coverage: Breaking news, deep dives, personality profiles – both in prose and video.”

Editor’s Perspective

Baverman, who moved to Raleigh in late 2012, says she wants to bring more attention to the region’s entrepreneurs. 

“My first year here, I was an outsider looking in at the startup community, and this role lets me jump in and learn about the companies, meet the players and tell their stories in new and different ways,” she told WRALTechWire.

“That’s super exciting to me. I also hope to recruit some awesome writers and videographers to Exit Event, and to make our coverage so good that venture capitalists and entrepreneurs around the nation want to visit. I also want to challenge the leaders here to think big and do what it takes to better support new company formation in the Triangle. And finally, I want Exit Event to grow—statewide, region-wide and wherever else there are important stories to tell.”

Klein cited several reasons for hiring Baverman.

“She has a wide range of experience covering startups for nearly 10 years and has done so in other parts of the country. She has the ability to support the growth of the Triangle ecosystem while maintaining a critical eye toward it,” Klein said.  ”And finally, she has experience writing at a national level, including USA Today, which we see as immensely valuable as we attempt to move Exit Event into the regional and national spotlight.”

Proocopio, who also is an executive at Automated Insights, says he had expected at some point to sell ExitEvent.

“True Entrepreneurial Voice”

“ExitEvent filled a massive need for a true entrepreneurial voice in the Triangle, and in that, it grew very big, very quick. I’m psyched to see where the resources and the vision of American Underground can take this thing,” he says.

“Pretty early on, like before I had even figured out what ExitEvent should be, it became a mission. I ran it like a startup from the beginning, and I made conscious decisions for ExitEvent to not be defined by what came before it. As a result, it got very popular right away, and the audience is national, almost world-wide. That’s when I knew it was going to get out of my hands sooner rather than later.

“What’s going on with American Underground is something new, and I don’t think people realize that yet. It isn’t just about giving startups a place to work, it’s a mission to legitimize and evolve entrepreneurism. That mission is parallel to ExitEvent is a lot of ways.”

The ExitEvent website includes a variety of news stories and blogs.

The socials are touted as an “investor only anti-networking event” that take place monthly at venues around the Triangle. One recently was hosted in Charlotte.

Klein says the mission of ExitEvent going forward is to be a “microphone” for the Triangle.

“The American Underground is about more than space, more than giving startups a home—we want to transform our region through the work of these entrepreneurs and the jobs and technologies they create,” he explained.

“Exit Event, as a key part of our work, will help us take the next step and provide a bigger microphone to the outside world about the Triangle’s entrepreneurial scene.

“Joe has done a great job of building a grassroots, entrepreneur-led ethos into Exit Event—that ethos will remain front and center to the site as it grows in the coming years.”: