Confession: I borrowed this idea from, a really great tech media organization covering a whole host of cities in the Northeast. 2015 was the year Philly’s tech hub came together around things like diversity, healthcare, local politics and civic hacking.

I’ve not been here long enough to make a sweeping statement about the Triangle, but I’m about to argue that 2016 was a big year of community-wide impact for our region’s collective startup ecosystem.
As we take a step back from chronicling the day-to-day goings-on in the startup community, some seemingly inconsequential happenings—like a bunch of startups voting early together or a happy hour of 100+ social entrepreneurs—are a lot more significant in the broader picture.
So here are the big moves our community made. Tweet, email or comment with any thoughts or additions.

Influencing local, national politics

In many ways, the startup community was forced into politics in 2016.
According to an ExitEvent survey, a StartupsAgainstHB2 website and startup community petition, the controversial “bathroom bill” threatened their ability to recruit and retain workers or to raise needed venture capital. Some customer relationships were impacted. Many just found the bill to be wrong, and as business leaders, wanted to take a stand against the bold move by the North Carolina legislature.
Startup leaders across the state signed a petition to repeal the bill and the website offered a collection of personal stories from startup founders about the potential impact of HB2. When those efforts weren’t successful in repealing the bill, members of the community rallied around early voting, hosting group voting outings.
ExitEvent also hosted a series of conversations and meet and greets with candidates, in hopes of better connecting our state’s leaders with the next generation of business leaders. American Underground held a panel discussion about North Carolina politics, offering ways for its members to get involved and make a difference. HQ Raleigh planned candidate meet and greets and even got involved in the national election. Co-founders Brooks Bell and Jess Lipson gave speeches at the Democratic National Convention, hosted a pretty major local Hillary Clinton fundraiser, and the space held an event with Chelsea Clinton spotlighting local female entrepreneurs (pictured top).
Will future years spark as much political conversation among local startups? With a new governor and president taking over in January, and HB2 still in effect, it’s hard to make any predictions. But this past year, many felt compelled to have their voices heard.