DURHAM – More than 600 people are registered to attend Monday night’s kickoff of Big Top’s relaunch from a jobs platform to what managers are calling now a “recruiting and career management community.”

Molly Demarest

A new software platform, a broader approach, and a revised series of events are among the highlights.

Molly Demarest, who leads Big Top as part of The American Underground (which is owned by WRAL TechWire parent Capitol Broadcasting), talks about all the changes that will be disclosed during the event at The American Tobacco Historic District.

  • What can you tell our readers about the changes being made?

We are excited to debut a new software platform and rebooted event series that connects regional and national talent with growing startups in the Research Triangle region. The demand is there; since a beta ‘reboot’ test began in October, 2,200+ people joined Big Top’s talent pool, bringing the total to well over 5,000 and counting.

Beyond capital, talent is one of the key drivers of startup success. Startups in the region are experiencing enormous growth, and they’re looking to tap into a larger talent pool beyond their personal networks. Through Big Top, we’re enhancing the Triangle’s position as a top startup community by seamlessly connecting talent and startups through a trusted network.

We are actively engaged with local universities, relevant organizations and skilled meetup groups to “cut out the BS” and build connections on behalf of the startup community. Some of these groups include Momentum Learning, Code the Dream, NCCU, Duke, UNC, NC State, Shaw, etc.

Whether you’re a growing startup, an individual open to the next opportunity, or just want to stay in the know, Big Top is your competitive advantage in the Triangle.

  • Why are you making the changes?

The Triangle startup community looks much different today than 6 years ago, when the idea of Big Top was birthed, by local entrepreneur Chris Heivly – he did a great job at laying the foundation. But, as the startup community has grown, so have the needs, and we are excited to continue to evolve Big Top to scale with the community.

One of the greatest assets of being in the Triangle startup community is having access to broad networks, and the giving mentality of individuals within those networks – you can pretty much get 15 minutes with anyone. Our vision for Big Top is to more effectively connect these networks to
give both startups and the broader community the competitive advantage to grow in healthy way.

Big Top is about building a trusted network of talent and startups, and we are committed to cultivating talent, connecting them to opportunities, and supporting companies in building healthy  work environments as they grow.

  • What companies are going to be pitching jobs?

Automated Insights
Bee Downtown

  • How were they selected?

Big Top is a resource for exposure and engagement for high-growth startups in the region. As we debut the new Big Top, we wanted a mix of the most forward-thinking companies, both large and small.

The timing of the event coincided well with where each of these companies are in the process of growth, many of them having recently announced funding and expansion plans.

Part of growing a team requires additional exposure, and our events provide an opportunity for companies to engage with their peers and the startup community. When a company pitches at a Big Top event, the message is not only heard by the people in the room, but also their extended networks.

The future of Big Top is about elevating the network effect, resulting in the right connections to stay competitive.

  • What are some highlights of the new platform and rebooted event series?

Big Top’s online platform connects talent to relevant opportunities. This past fall, we started testing different features, including a comprehensive skill set profile and delivering relevant opportunities directly to the talent pool. On Monday, we’re excited to offer this as a key function of our platform, as well as a customizable company page, providing a framework for startups to better tell their stories of who they are and what they are looking for to grow the teams!

Our goal is to make the platform accessible, which is why it’s free for talent and startups to create skill set profiles and company pages.

In the near future, we’ll be rolling out the next phase, which will include a way for talent to show interest in companies and be previewed anonymously, reducing bias in the first round of the process.

But we also know that meaningful connections don’t just happen online. In addition to the online platform, on Monday we’re announcing a rebooted event series, which is designed for startups to build connections, share their stories and grow their teams. This includes a 2-3 times a year Big Top
Bash – think of it as a celebration of the Triangle Startup Community.

We will also host a monthly series called the Startup Crawl, intended to gather founders and their teams in unique startup spaces around the Triangle.