As folks braved the rain and lined up to check in, StartUpandPlay’s first main event in RTP was in full swing. 

Over 200 people cruised through the lobby of RTP’s headquarters October 29 to visit over a dozen startups including PencilBlue, Sweeps, MusicBox, Swaggr and several Startup Factory companies. If you’ve never been to a StartUpandPlay, the best way I can describe it is “an adult science fair for entrepreneurs”. Companies (mostly tech-focused, and many of whom are targeting consumers) get a booth to set up and decorate as they wish. It’s a great chance for companies working on a product to gain valuable feedback, sign folks up for a beta, or even gain real paying customers. 
Some things changed this time around. Three companies battled in a pitch contest to win the golden “pitch fork”. Competitors included the Startup Factory’s Antenna, a content engagement platform for publishers, and Orate, which helps public speakers find and book engagements; and PencilBlue, the Raleigh-based content management platform. Each had 5 minutes to explain their concepts and future plans. The audience then voted (the old fashioned way of clapping and yelling for their favorite) and the first ever golden pitch fork went to Antenna. 
The evening wrapped up with another first for StartUpandPlay, a fifteen-minute keynote speaker. Chris Heivly, co-founder of MapQuest and current co-managing director of The Startup Factory spoke on overcoming our fears when starting a company. As our little event evolves, I am excited to see the next pitch battle for the golden pitchfork, along with words of wisdom from another keynote.
If you’d like to showcase at our next main event (Jan/Feb 2015), apply here: