The Startup Factory accelerator is funding five emerging companies, and a sixth is likely to be added. Of the new group, three are from outside the Triangle as co-managing directors Chris Heivly and Dave Neal cast a wider net in their search for investments.

“The distribution of applicants keeps moving to more of a national and international flavor,” Heivly said in an email.

One of the five startups, SnapYeti, is based in Raleigh. 

A second, Antenna, also calls the Triangle home.

TSF reached to Oklahoma City for the first time, selecting IMNEXT.

The two other firms identified are from New York (The Spoken Thought) and Washington, D.C. (Orate). 

Applications reflected the TSF’s growing reach:

• 55 percent of applicants came from elsewhere in the U.S.
• 31 percent were from RTP
• 14 percent were international

The TSF management duo has been looking to expand beyond the Triangle and also is planning to raise a new investment fund, which would be its second. TSF changed its name in June of 2013. 

“The increase in the International applications seems to support what we are hearing from other investment programs like ours,” said Neal in the announcement. “In addition to the increase in foreign companies, the out of metro interest continues to hold which supports our national footprint.”

This group is the sixth that TSF has funded. 

As part of an expanding strategy, Heivly and Neal changed the name of TSF from Triangle Startup Factory.

The result for this latest group of investments – or as Heivly calls them, a “cohort,” – is three companies from beyond the Triangle. That’s a big change from previous investments.

Among the five previous groups, 26 companies secured investments and all but six were from RTP. Of the others, four came from Washington, D.C. and two from New York. 

“We used some interesting direct email marketing that worked well,” Heivly said, referring to recruitment of the new group. 

The selected companies receive $50,000 of funding upfront. If they complete the three-month accelerator program while based at TSF’s headquarters at the American Underground in Durham, they are eligible to receive additional TSF funding in the form of a convertible note ranging from $20,000 to $150,000. 

Eleven of the 26 ventures have also raised on average some $300,000 in additional funding. 

“The TSF team has worked hard at increasing the quality of both the applicants and the business concepts,” Heivly said in the announcement. “We again received applications from local, national and international teams with the distribution continuing to move to more out of metro teams.”

The New “Cohort”

The five announced selections, with summaries provided by TSF:


IMNext is a mobile application that focuses on the demand for home services including plumbing repair, HVAC and general home improvement. At the core we offer a way for contractors to communicate in real-time with prospective clients. Our goal is to provide customers seeking home repair with the nearest most proficient service provider quickly with no hassle. In doing this we will cut out the general unknowns linked with traditional hiring measures and give customers assurance that they are getting a qualified, insured technician that is safe to be in their home at a fair price. Knowing who, when and cost before each hire will be the new standard for hiring service contractors.

  • Orate

Orate is a marketplace for event organizers and public speakers to find one another, opening more possibilities for organizers and more opportunities for speakers. Orate’s mission is twofold:

1) Make the task of finding quality speakers, with any size budget, quick and easy;
2) Assist speakers in the transition from an unpaid, emerging speaker to a paid thought leader

Organizers can find, book, and provide feedback for speakers all in one place. Speakers can create a profile, search for events seeking speakers, and market their brand on this simple and comprehensive platform.

  • Antenna

Antenna is a simple, elegant feedback layer for the web. Our platform empowers web audiences to engage in exactly what content grabs their attention with just a click. Site visitors can now cast a meaningful reaction to any phrase, video, audio, product, or whole page on a site, and Antenna’s simple rendering of visitor feedback makes it simple to quickly see what a community’s diverse mindset is about that online content.

  • SnapYeti

SnapYeti is a photo contest platform that enables brands to connect with consumers through crowd-sourced photos. Our website encourages people to find company-sponsored photo contests and compete for product/service deals and discounts just by participating. User’s simply submit a photo or “admires” someone else’s photo. By aggregating contests and users in one location, SnapYeti extends the audience the contest hosts (brands of all sizes) with an extended audience beyond their current.

  • The Spoken Thought

The Spoken Thought is a mobile technology company that connects digital out-of-home media with highly targeted mobile audiences. Our platform uses the external screens around us to display content that would otherwise clutter the mobile experience. We address the ineffectiveness of mobile advertising and reduce the number of ads we see in our favorite apps.

At the center of our platform is an innovative approach to behavioral marketing in which personas are used in lieu of individual identification delivering the flexibility needed to leverage disparate devices to target and display the most relevant content possible. Our proximity-based technology introduces an additional stream of revenue to app developers, allows media owners to maximize the value of their displays through targeting, and enables advertisers to pay only for the impressions that they want.