Shannon Cuthrell contributed.

Nearly a year ago, we published our inaugural list of startup-friendly content creators across the Triangle region. It was fascinating to see the number of people sharing their knowledge and insights via written word, spoken word and video, and the list has only grown since that time.

One of those additions is Melissa Kennedy, whose book The Innovation Revolution went live this week to much fanfare on Amazon. More on that below, as well as a dozen or so other additions to the list. Please note that a few podcasts have been removed because they are no longer actively producing. You can find those on last year’s list.

As always, message us with any additions to the 2017 list!


K. Melissa Kennedy: The Innovation Revolution

Kennedy’s resume includes several major accomplishments, like creating one of the first social media strategic plans for Cisco Systems and co-leading multi-billion dollar fundraising campaigns for North Carolina public universities and community colleges. Complementing her years of experience in the innovation space, she just wrote a book that outlines some of her best enterprise startup secrets.

Bobby Martin: The Hockey Stick Principles: 4 Key Stages to Entrepreneurial Success

Throughout his journey founding, building and eventually selling a leading sales intelligence company, Martin became acclimated to the hurdles entrepreneurs face in every startup stage. His book collects some of the lessons he learned along the way, guiding readers on how to make sense of why challenges arise, how to solve them and how to ease through each stage.

Dan Heath: Decisive, Switch and Made to Stick

Dan Heath is a Durham-based fellow at the Duke University CASE Center and co-author of a series of bestselling business books with his brother Chip. Their book Switch, in particular, was named one of the best nonfiction bestsellers of 2010 and spent 47 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Dan and his brother have had their books translated into over 30 languages.

Dan Ariely: Predictably Irrational (and other books)

Ariely is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University and founder of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, where a team of researchers work with major brands to better understand consumer behavior. Using the help of a New York Times cartoonist, Ariely expands on stories from his advice column that was featured in the Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of numerous other books such as The Upside of Irrationality, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty and, most recently, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations.

Heather Allen: Let Your Creativity Work For You: How to Turn Artwork into Opportunity

Allen has created a brand and platform by which artists can learn new strategies for growing creative businesses in a digital landscape via talks, courses and weekly tip guides. She extends those consulting services into this book, which helps artists direct their own professional paths—adding entrepreneurship into the equation.

Jessamyn Stanley: Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body

With online and in-person classes and a popular lifestyle blog, Stanley has become an internationally recognized yoga practitioner on social media and in her city of Durham. Her personality and expertise, combined with a body-positive approach to yoga, has earned her a massive Instagram following, as well as national press. To further train her students and followers, she wrote a comprehensive how-to book with instructions for 50 basic yoga poses and 10 sequences readers can practice at home. The book won’t be released until April, but Amazon is taking pre-orders.

Marshall Brain: The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches (& other free e-books)

Robots are going to have a profound impact on the human race and the well-known Cary entrepreneur and NC State professor looks at the various impacts: on job creation, unemployment, morals and ethics. Brain is best known for founding and selling it to the Discovery Channel for $250 million. Besides teaching, writing and speaking, he’s also a founder of BA3 and EcoPRT.

Annie Franceschi: Skip to Action: 22 Free and Meaningful Ways to Start Your First Small Business Right Now

Annie Franceschi is the owner and creative director for Greatest Story Creative, located in Durham. Borrowing from lessons learned working for Disney in California, she helps businesses tell their stories and celebrate what makes them unique. Franceschi published a free ebook earlier this year, diving into the issues and fears she faced at the start of her own business. She aims to use her experiences to help other entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls.

Chris Heivly: Build the Fort: Why 5 Simple Lessons You Learned As a 10-Year-Old Can Set You up for Startup Success

Chris Heivly published his first book in 2015, while also blogging for Inc. and at Dubbed “The Startup Whisperer”, Chris was part of the team that built MapQuest in the 1990s and more recently has led the Durham startup accelerator The Startup Factory and Big Top event series. The book is aimed to help anyone take the first steps of turning an idea into a business. At, Chris shares other tips, advice and motivation for budding startup founders.

Randy Nelson: The Second Decision

Randy Nelson is author of the Amazon bestseller “The Second Decision”, a book for entrepreneurs trying to build successful businesses based on their ideas. He says that the first decision is to be an entrepreneur, but the second should be to be a qualified entrepreneur. And he suggests how to do it based on his experiences in the military and then founding veteran recruiting firm Orion International and technical services and staffing agency NSTAR Global Services, where he served as CEO for until 2012. Nelson is also a founding member of the Entrepreneurs Organization in Raleigh. He plans to publish subsequent books on other key decisions entrepreneurs make while building successful businesses.

Jim Whitehurst: The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance

The Red Hat CEO’s book looks at how transparency, collaboration and a community focus make organizations successful in an increasingly open and technological world, borrowing from the growth of Red Hat. Whitehurst also blogs regularly for, a media site operated by the software company.

Stephen Markham and Paul Mugge: Traversing the Valley of Death

Two North Carolina State University faculty members—Markham, a professor of management, innovation and entrepreneurship, and Mugge, innovation professor and director of NC State’s Center of Innovation Management Studies —put their heads together to create a process that helps managers grow revenue and market share, or open new markets and businesses. Traversing the Valley of Death details a system readers can use to bring new value to their endeavors, from early needs assessment to advanced business planning and organization.

Kel Landis: The Little Book of DO!

After 30 years in private equity, banking and a variety of philanthropic roles, Plexus Capital founder Kel Landis has met a lot of people and made some observations about what makes some successful and others not so much. The Raleigh author put it all together into an easy read about the pursuit of goals. Landis has a variety of connections to the local entrepreneurial community. Plexus is an investor in Raleigh’s Global Value Commerce, Scivation of Durham, Piedmont Candy Company of Lexington and Huseby Inc. of Charlotte. Landis also serves as a director for banking startup Live Oak Bank in Wilmington.

Ping Fu: Bend, Not Break

Ping Fu started 3D printing software company Geomagic and eventually sold it to 3D Systems in 2013 for $55 million, making her one of the most successful female entrepreneurs in the region. In her memoir, Fu writes about the lessons she learned growing up impoverished during China’s Cultural Revolution and how she’s translating them into a successful career in American technology. Fu spent many years in Chapel Hill but relocated to Los Angeles to work at 3D Systems. She left the company last year and now serves as a board member for the Burning Man Project and the Long Now Foundation, and chairman of the Boston startup GelSight.

Jeff Cobb: Leading the Learning Revolution

A Carrboro serial EdTech entrepreneur, Cobb writes about the continuously evolving online learning industry in this book, published in 2013. He suggests ways to start an online education business, and how to integrate lifelong learning programs into business. A 21-episode podcast series goes along with the book.

David Gardner: The Startup Hats

The Startup Hats is meant as a practical and specific guide for entrepreneurs starting their first businesses. The book walks readers through the many hats they’ll wear while starting a business, from manager to salesman to banker and more. Gardner is a seven-time startup entrepreneur who now spends his time advising and investing in early stage Triangle-based companies. He’s also the managing partner of Cofounders Capital in Cary.

Joe Procopio: The Independent Life and It’s All Nonsense

Joe Procopio puts lessons learned over his years of building startups into a pair of e-books available on Amazon, and a blog, where he publishes insights on startups, entrepreneurship and life in general a couple times a week. Procopio is chief product officer at Automated Insights, which was acquired a year ago for more than $100 million, as well as founder of ExitEvent, which he sold to American Underground in 2014.

Tom Lotrecchiano and Joe Schmidt: EntreManureship: A Story of Toiling Until Something Grew

The pair behind Canvas On Demand, which eventually sold to Cafe Press for $54 million in 2010, published this book to tell the real story behind their “glamorous” exit.

Bob Young: Under the Radar: How Red Hat Changed the Software Business and Took Microsoft By Surprise

The founder of Red Hat (who’s now leading and PrecisionHawk) co-authored this book about the early days of the open source movement in 1999, the year Red Hat went public (when he was still CEO). It includes interviews with early leaders of the open source movement and the creator of Linux.

Christopher Gergen: Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives

The HQ Raleigh and Forward Impact co-founder co-authored a book in 2008 about entrepreneurship based on interviews with 55 business and social entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds and sectors. The book earned positive reviews by Publishers Weekly and Entrepreneur Magazine and lots of national media attention.

Damon Tweedy: Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine

A doctor and assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University, Damon Tweedy has interesting insights on race and the healthcare system, based on his own own experience as a black man studying and practicing medicine. His book, published in 2015, was met with rave reviews from the New York Times, TIME, Entertainment Weekly and others.

Spoonflower: The DIY Guide to Designing Fabric, Wallpaper, and Gift Wrap

Spoonflower, is a Durham startup that lets customers design their own fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap and have it digitally printed on those textiles and shipped to their homes. To help customers with their DIY projects, in 2015, Spoonflower published this book of step-by-step tutorials to help people turn their ideas into real creative projects.

Mary Cantando: The Woman’s Advantage

Cantando has built a national brand with her series of products and forums, serving a lifelong passion to help women grow multi-million dollar businesses. She has a series of books to address the challenges women entrepreneurs and business owners face competing in tough marketplaces and working to take their businesses to the next level. In addition to writing her own advice into these books, Cantando includes tips from many other successful women founders.

Vivian Howard: Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South

A television personality on the PBS show “A Chef’s Life,” a food writer and the owner of a few restaurants in Eastern North Carolina’s Kinston captures her culinary experience in her first book—Deep Run Roots. It’s a recipe-rich cookbook that also tells a memoir-style story of Howard’s life and career.

Ashley Christensen: Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner

Ashley Christensen is the chef and owner of Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Chuck’s, Fox Liquor Bar, Joule Coffee + Table, Death & Taxes and Bridge Club, all in downtown Raleigh. Her debut cookbook chronicles the story of how she opened her first restaurant and subsequently built a community of farmers, cooks and guests around food.

Eric Boggs and the RevBoss team: How to Write Better Sales Messaging

The team at Durham-based RevBoss, a sales prospecting software startup, recently wrote a 34-page ebook chock-full of examples, how-to’s and advice for writing sales messaging. The book outlines steps on how to write cold emails, generate responses to messages on different digital communication channels and what to do when a prospect says “no.”

Video series

The Interbrew

This video interview series was created by recent NC State grads and ThinkHouse participants Kyle Sheats and Jared Childs. The two entrepreneurs sit down and talk with other local entrepreneurs over a pint or two. Recent interviews feature Leigh-Kathryn Bonner of Bee Downtown and Tatiana Birgisson of Mati Energy. Childs is the founder of Pitch and Primer, an online (and soon to be bricks and mortar) shop for the modern man. Sheats is the co-founder of Pompano Print Co., a Raleigh screen printing business.

RTP 180

The videos from these live events at Research Triangle Park are worth the watch. Each month, RTP asks innovators and leaders in a variety of industries and disciplines to share short presentations about their work. Topics range from Makers & DIYers to Storytelling to AgBio to STEM in the Triangle. The events happen monthly and videos are published not long after.

Teaching Startup

Joe Procopio, also listed in the above “authors” section, has created a multi-channel advice platform for entrepreneurs, called Teaching Startup. It consists of a member network, a founder-to-founder discussion video series and a podcast with audio clips from the show (helpful for multitaskers).

Triangle Makers + Doers

Innovate Raleigh, in partnership with Centerline Digital, launched its mini-documentary film series last year. Released in installments throughout 2016, each “day in the life” video spotlights local startups Bee Downtown, Spoonflower, MATI Energy, Practichem, and Envested. The film series, in its entirety, is available on Innovate Raleigh’s website.


350 Third: The impact of the Internet on business

Raleigh tech gurus Scott Barstow and Anders Brownworth cover topics like the disruptive nature of bitcoin and impact of drones on society in this monthly podcast. Brownsworth is the vice president of research and development for the hybrid wifi/smartphone carrier, Republic Wireless, which is owned by Bandwidth. Barstow previously served as Bandwidth’s chief technology officer and head of its Bandwidth Labs initiative. Now, he’s a venture partner at Sovereign’s Capital and CEO of Rocket Hangar, a consulting firm located in Raleigh.

Jason & Scot Show

ChannelAdvisor chairman and Spiffy CEO Scot Wingo and a co-host explore the latest innovation in e-commerce and shopper marketing in this weekly show. The podcast covers general topics such as the “future of retail” along with profiling specific companies like Amazon. Scot, who’s based in the Triangle, is joined by Jason Goldberg, senior vice President of commerce and marketing for Razorfish and creator of the “retailgeek” blog.

The Flywheel Podcast

Victor Jimenez is a podcast entrepreneur, a business coach and a cycling enthusiast based in Chapel Hill. While a lot of his time is spent on the Cycling 360 podcast for cycling enthusiasts, he also hosts this podcast, featuring entrepreneurs and creative individuals from a variety of sectors.

Tales from the Cask

Tales from the Cask is a weekly podcast about craft beer produced by Mims Distributing and hosted by Chip Mims, Tony Walldroff and Jennifer Balik. All three hosts work in the beer industry and host the podcast from a little bar in Raleigh.

Cigars & Sea Stories

Michael Penney is a military veteran who works to inspire other military veterans to add value in the world, while telling their stories via a website, blog and podcast. Penney recently shared his story at TEDxRaleigh, and is a member of the inaugural class of Bunker Labs.

The Minority Trailblazer

Greg Hill is an Durham entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker who publishes a weekly podcast aimed to inspire minorities to fulfill their passion and purpose in business and in life. Recent guests include comedian Darren Brand and Travel Noire founder and Forbes 30 Under 30 winner Zim Ugochukwu.

Game Designers of North Carolina

This biweekly podcast is produced by a group of Tabletop game designers who have been meeting regularly since April 2013. The podcast covers useful information for anyone new to game design, or hoping to stay fresh on their skills.

919 Beer

The 919 Beer Podcast is all about building, engaging and educating beer lovers about the craft beer culture here in the Triangle. Now produced by WRAL, host Joe Ovies interviews founders of local and national breweries weekly, getting all the ins and outs of this emerging industry in the Triangle.