The Triangle tech community gathered at the Google Fiber Space in downtown Raleigh Monday for the monthly meet-and-greet known as the StartUp Crawl, hosted by Big Top.

The beauty of these events rests in more than the complimentary wine and beer, supplied by Bull Durham Brewing, or the ability to visit cool spaces in the Triangle like the Google Fiber Space at an hour in the evening when downtown Raleigh is just starting to come alive with nightlife.

The true value is the ease with which attendees made meaningful and lasting connections, as was the case for the founder of Sudsy, Khushbu Madhiwala. As the head of one of the two featured startups for the evening, and a Pinkubator company, Madhiwala knows something about making connections.

“I went to an event very similar to this last year and met some people who I still talk to today,” she said.

Sudsy is a company with the goal of providing “the customer with high-quality soaps that are convenient to transport and use.” As a recent biochemistry graduate of North Carolina State University, Madhiwala’s ask was very simple: advice on how to talk to big corporations and people in positions of influence. In the collaborative, fun and safe environment of the Big Top’s Startup crawl, shaking hands with seasoned entrepreneurs becomes an opportunity for practice.

Entrepreneurs and others meet and mingle at Google Fiber in downtown Raleigh for a Startup Crawl sponsored by Big Top. (Photo by: Michael Baylor for

Entrepreneurs and others meet and mingle at Google Fiber in downtown Raleigh for a Startup Crawl sponsored by Big Top. (Photo by: Michael Baylor for

Madhiwala’s counterpart for the evening couldn’t have been a better pairing. Vik Chandra is a seasoned entrepreneur, also a part of the Pinkubator. His current venture, UMethod is seeking to mitigate the effects of and even prevent early-onset Alzheimers. His ask of funding and support from the entrepreneurial medical community was a little more complicated. It is not a mystery to say that venture capital money does not flow in the Triangle with the same current as in places like Silicon Valley, but events like the Startup Crawl allow entrepreneurs to make unlikely connections to people who have asked those same questions and may have answers.

In many respects, titles got left at the door as attendees entered the Startup Crawl. Aside from name tags, at times it was hard to tell the difference between the CEO, the job seeker and the student.

All benefit from the symbiotic relationship of the Triangle tech ecosystem — the successes, missteps, false starts and prosperity of each contributes to the whole. The idea of a Triangle tech ecosystem was expressed by many throughout the night. Whether by Michael English, business development manager for Big Top and our welcoming MC, or Andrew Black, our host for the evening at the Google Fiber space and Google’s sales, strategy and operations manager for The Triangle. Upon leaving a Big Top Startup Crawl, you get the overwhelming sense that when one wins, we all win.

Big Top hosts Startup Crawls monthly, bringing together the tech community for networking, drinks and camaraderie.

Big Top and Bull Durham Brewing are subsidiaries of Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WRALTechWire. Capitol also has investments in UMethod.