Thirty-one new companies have been added to the “Triangle Tweener List” started by serial entrepreneur Scot Wingo in 2016 to highlight what he calls “Goldilocks startups that are not too small and not too large.”

The fourth annual list now includes 150 companies.

Introducing the 2019 list on Medium, Wingo wrote: “These are our future breakouts, big fund-raisers, acquistion targets and (fingers crossed) IPOs. Tweeners are also great for folks moving to the area to target for startup gigs,” Wingo wrote in a post on Medium outlining the 2019 changes to the list. In a recent interview with WRAL TechWire, Wingo said out-of-town investors who visit the Triangle frequently use the list as a scouting guide.

Triangle Tweeners have the following criteria:

  • They must be headquartered in the Triangle.
  • They need to be a technology company — software, hardware, tech-enabled services, digitally native brands, e-commerce, etc. No agencies, or consultancies. No life science (drugs, CRO, medical devices) companies.
  • Have at least $1,000,000/yr in sales OR 10 people.
  • Once a company is over $80m/yearr in revenue or 500 employees they ‘graduate’ off the list.

This year, Lulu Publishing , founded by Bob Young of Red Hat fame, joined nine other previous Tweener graduates by listing more than 500 employees. Another 17 companies were acquired or merged in 2018, and twelve startups dropped off the list due to winding down or shrinking too small to continue meeting the criteria.

Young is also CEO of one of the new 2019 startups added to the list. Serial entrepreneurs Jud Bowman, who previously started Pinpoint, which sold to Motricity, and Sharefile founder Jesse Lipson are also both back with new startups.

The 31 new additions to the 2018 list with Scot Wingo’s “pitch” comments are:


Pitch: Running a customer support organization is tough and you end up with data all over the place (ticketing system, CRM system, phone system, etc.). Boostopia solves that by putting it all in one place. The result? Customer service managers can better serve customers because they have a 360 degree view of the entire CS function.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Justin Winter

BrightDoor Systems

Pitch: If you are a real estate developer and you have a great new neighborhood, you need a complete CRM/digital marketing system to help you promote and manage your sales force and customer data. BrightDoor, founded in 2005 in Cary, provides a SaaS platform for the builder industry.

Size: 10–50

Investors: $2M from Idea Fund Partners and Outcome Capital.

CEO: Michael Worthington

Bright Wolf

Pitch: Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be huge and Bright Wolf is a Durham company with a lot of traction in the space. Imagine that everything had a sensor on it. If a generator in a factory is going out, a sensor could raise an alert so a second generator could take over while a maintenance dude comes out to fix generator 1. Bright Wolf’s platform enables this type of machine-to-machine (m2m) automation, and is used heavily in the transportation industry.

Size: 10–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Peter Bourne


Pitch: The Triangle is home to Winston Hospitality — a very large hotel developer and operator. Chances are you have stayed in one of their properties. To help manage such a large portfolio, Winston developed SaaS hospitality software. After dogfooding the software, they spun it out as a separate company called Broadvine. Now Broadvine serves over 1000 properties world-wide.

Size: 50–100

Investors: none

CEO: Shawn Barber

Triangle Tweeners: 2019 list graduates, acquisitions, funded and dropped

Brooks Bell Interactive

Pitch: Brooks Bell Interactive started in 2003 and helps companies perform A/B testing and optimize their ‘whatever they want to optimize’ online — conversions, sales, etc. Full disclosure — Brooks was an intern for us back in 1999 and I take 100% credit for all her success since then

Brooks is also one of the co-founders of HQ Raleigh. She recently announced she has been diagnosed with cancer and is stepping into the executive chair position.

Size: 50–110

Investors: Bootstrap

Top executive: Brooks Bell (recently named executive chairman as she battles colon cancer)

Allbridge (previously Bulk Internet and TV)

Pitch: Have you ever stayed in a hotel and wondered how they have Satellite TV in every room? The answer is Allbridge. They make (sell and install) the technology that pulls the signal down and then pipes it into every room in a hotel, office park, apartment building, dorm, etc. Based in Raleigh, Allbridge has quietly and without funding created a very big recurring revenue business. 2019 Update — Bulk TV merged with DCI and EthoStream to form the new company Allbridge.

Size: 200–300

Investors: none

CEO: David O’Connell


Pitch: Candlescience is a Durham e-commerce company that helps candle-making enthusiasts find the supplies they need and enjoy the experience of making something with their own hands. It was founded in 2004.

Size: 11–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Daniel Swimm

Pitch: An on-demand company in Raleigh that operates a marketplace for home care services like lawn maintenance, pest control, gutter cleaning and pressure washing. It was founded in 2014.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $3.9M from Cofounders Capital, Idea Fund Partners, Sovereign’s Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital and Lowe’s Companies

CEO: Hunt Davis

Carpe Lotion

Pitch: Let’s face it, as humans we sweat. In fact the startup-world is full of crazy levels of stress so if you are reading this, unfortunately I think we’re part of a group of people that sweats more than average. Antiperspirant technology has focused entirely on the underarms. Until…Carpe! Carpe is building a total body sweat management system targeting areas such as sweaty hands and feet. Carpe is selling direct to consumers through Amazon and their products are frequently in the top 10 against national brands.

Size: 10–20

Investors: Carolina Angel Network (CAN) and Triangle Angel Partners (TAP)

CEO: David Spratte


Pitch: Do you ever need to repossess (recover) a vehicle and wish you had a suite of solutions and services to help? Ok, me neither, BUT apparently someone does need this and CARS (Consolidated Asset Recovery Systems) does. Their IBeam platform is SaaS software that allows lenders to automate the recovery process.

Size: 50

Investors: none

CEO: Steve Norwood


Pitch: Spun out of the agency Ignite Social Media in 2015, Cary-based Carusele creates and distributes organic social media content for brands and retailers.

Size: 10–50

Investors: $750K from undisclosed investors

President: Jim Tobin (also CEO of Ignite Social Media)


Pitch: There are people all over the planet interested in doing tasks for companies on a part-time, as-needed basis. Amazon created a system — Mechanical Turk — to automate this. But it leaves a lot to be desired and is very specific to Amazon’s needs. Enter CloudFactory, which moved its headquarters from Nepal to Durham in 2014. CloudFactory has created some custom workflows for text-to-digital, audio-to-digital and CRM cleanup. This gives companies a turnkey way to solve these types of problems without building their own solutions. A cool thing is its social mission — it contracts with thousands of underemployed “cloudworkers” in cities in Africa.

Size: 10–50

Investors: $13M from Sovereign’s Capital, Rockefeller Foundation, David Clouse

CEO: Mark Sears


Pitch: Do you want to be Earth-friendly but don’t have room or time to compost? CompostNow to the rescue! You simply place your compostable waste into a bin provided by CompostNow and they pick it up on a regular schedule and take it to their mega compost facility. They also bring the fertile composted soil back to you immediately so you don’t have to wait for Mother Nature to take her time.

Size: 10–20

Investors: undisclosed angels

CEO: Justin Senkbeil

CoreCompete LLC

Pitch: Provider of agile Big Data analytics on top of Amazon Web Services and SAS. Core Compete delivers pricing analytics, customer analytics and merchandising/supply chain solutions. It’s four years old and based in Durham.

Size: 50–110

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Shiva Kommareddi


Pitch: Sam Bayer was at HAHT from 1997 to 2000 in the early days of e-commerce. He then worked at SciQuest and MarketAcuity. In 2008, he launched Corevist (aka b2b2dot0) in Raleigh. Corevist helps SAP users connect their back-office ERP to more modern e-commerce platforms.

Size: 10–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Sam Bayer

Creative Allies

Pitch: Creative Allies operates a marketplace for crowdsourcing amazing content. Over 12,000 creators are active on the platform and have created over 17,000 assets. Let’s say you are a local bar and you want to have a St. Patrick’s day promotion. You can go onto Creative Allies and start a design contest and award $250 to the winner. Designers come and create the design and you award a winner. Contests range from this type of a local example all the way to national brands leveraging the power of crowdsourcing to work with the latest talent.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Donald Thompson


Pitch: In 2019, we are swimming in data. In fact, you are reading data right now. Data, data, data! DataClarity provides a Analytics and Data Science Platform. The DataClarity solution seems to appeal to a wide variety of industries and ‘plays well’ with the Cognos/IBM data warehouse systems.

Size: 20–50

Investors: none

CEO: Mark Mueller

Davinci/LCMS Plus 

Pitch: Spun out of Duke University in 2010, Durham-based LCMS+ is an online edu-tech Size: 10–15

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Allison Wood

Devada (Formerly DZone)

Pitch: Developers are always looking for communities where they can find folks working on similar problems and share their challenges and findings. Dzone is a community of over 1m developers that enjoy fresh content, message boards and other community features.

Size: 50–200

Investors: SFW Capital Partners

CEO: Matt Tormollen

Device Magic 

Pitch: There are many industries such as (retail, construction, facilities, telecom) where folks are out and about doing things like inspections, inventory counts, maintenance, and things of that nature. If you want to know what they are doing, you need to arm them with a device and an optimized, low-friction ‘form’. As they are filling it out, you?ll want a variety of ways to know what’s going on and see an aggregate view of all the data. That’s exactly what Device Magic does.

Size: 20–50

Investors: none

CEO: Dusan Babich


Pitch: AI and machine learning are all the rage. But, we’ve all seen the Terminator, or read hundreds of sci-fi stories (or seen Black Mirror) where the AI’s decide, hmmm humans are kind of a problem, let’s take over the world (looking at you Skynet). Diveplane’s goal is to make responsible AIs that not only do cool AI stuff, but they are open and transparent.

Size: 20–50

Investors: $4.2m from a variety of angel investors and Presence Capital. Mike was CEO of Epic from 2004–2013, so this company has the attention of some very large investors. Wolfpack Investment Network (WIN) is an investor.

CEO: Mike Capps

Bee Downtown

Pitch: Bees, the producers of yummy honey, but also the chief pollinators of the insect-world, are dying off at an alarming pace from something called Colony Collapse Disorder. NCSU student and 4th-generation beekeeper, Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, came up with a great idea. What if you could get corporations and their employees that care about the plight of the humble bumble bee to get involved? Bee Downtown was born! Corporations can sign up for a variety of different hive options and Bee Downtown, installs them, takes care of them, does tours and educational sessions and finally delivers the honey to the company. Everyone wins, and bees get a fighting chance at survival.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Leigh-Kathryn Bonner


Pitch: This Raleigh startup provides a drag-and-drop interface for creating native mobile apps for both iOS and Android. The founder dropped out of Syracuse University in 2013 and moved to the Triangle in 2014 to grow the company. With a November 2015 funding round, it rebranded from Queue Software to Dropsource.

Size: 11–50

Investors: $10.9m in 3 rounds, investors unknown

CEO: Ben Saren


Pitch: Let’s say you run admissions at a higher education institution. You have 400 openings and 4,000–10,000 applications are flying at you every year. How do you manage this process? Enter element451. Element451 provides a SaaS admissions CRM system for a data-driven higher-ed admissions process. Who visited, who has accepted, who called you a million times and stopped by your house -keep all that data in one place and get better at the admissions process

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Ardis Kadiu


Pitch: Recruiting great talent is hard. I mean, really really hard. What every company realizes after spending gobs of hard earned cash on LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and all the job boards is that the best and cheapest way to hire folks is through employee referrals. But, we tend to pay the least for employee referrals and solicit them the least. EmployUS is an HRIS, HRTech firm out of Raleigh that takes all of the work out of running a referral program and adds fun features like gamification that drive adoption (more referrals!).

Size: 10–20

Investors: $750k from Cofounders Capital and Wolfpack Investment Network (WIN) is an investor.

CEO: Ryan O’Donnell

Entigral Systems

Pitch: A Raleigh IoT company that uses RFID technology to track assets, shipping and receiving of goods and the production process.

Size: 10–50

Investors: $1.67M in four rounds from Triangle Angel Partners

CEO: Mark Self


Pitch: This 33-year-old Raleigh software firm sells business intelligence software to 1,500 companies and organizations in higher education, insurance, manufacturing, nonprofits, healthcare and more. It was founded by CEO Doug Leupen.

Size: 11–50

Investors: $1.5M from Research Triangle Ventures and Catalysta Partners in 2001

CEO: Doug Leupen


Pitch: When Darren Pierce was at Bronto, he realized that cold calling online retailers was a tough business. He left and founded eTailInsights to solve this problem. The 2011-founded Cary company gathers a large database of online retailers and their contacts to help vendors get their products in front of the right audience.

Size: 10–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Darren Pierce


Pitch: I don’t know much about the founding of eTix, but Joe Kustelski was head of product before he left to start Rockhouse Partners. eTix then acquired Rockhouse in 2012 and Joe was CEO from 2012–2015. In late 2015, original founder Travis Janovich led a management buyout. eTix provides digital ticketing for venues (think TicketMaster but for smaller venues). You can’t go see a band or milk a cow at the Fair in RTP without ringing its cash register. This Durham company processes over 50 million tickets per year across 1800 venues globally.

Size: 100–300

Investors: $1 million from 1 investor — Bull City Venture Partners

CEO: Travis Janovich

Eton Solutions

Pitch: There are wealthy families across the world that are taking control of their finances and setting up family offices. A local family office developed software for managing all of their assets and investments and decided to license it. Eton Solutions was born! Category: SaaS FinTech

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Robert Mallernee

Exit Intelligence

Pitch: Retailers and others pay big $$ to get visitors to their websites. When they leave, Exit Intelligence provides behavior marketing that turns bounced traffic into customers.

Size: 20–30

Investors: none

CEO: Matt Cimino


Pitch: FeedTrail is a HealthTech that lets caregivers get feedback from patients on how they are doing (how do I tell every doctor I visit that they are never on time?!, but I digress) so they can improve the customer experience. Feedtrail has made a ton of progress in a short time, so keep an eye on this one!

Size: 10–20

Investors: Cofounders Capital

CEO: Paul Jaglowski


Pitch: On a trip, the founders discovered amazing flip-flops created from 100% natural rubber. They realized that US consumers would love sustainable, socially conscious products that also were better than traditional offerings. Feelgoodz was born and has expanded not only from their small office on Glenwood but also to other categories plus their e-commerce game is quite strong.

Size: 30–40

Investors: Wolfpack Investment Network (WIN) is an investor

CEO: Mark Saad


Pitch: If you have people in the field (maintenance, etc.) they need to be able to capture information and send it back to HQ. Field2Base has solutions for that.

Size: 11–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Thomas Bright


Pitch: Are you like me at the first of every month relishing that it is time to pull out the ladder and change your air-conditioner filters? Ok, I fibbed, I actually do this about every six months if I’m lucky. Why? Because it’s one of those things that not only is hard to remember, but is a pain because I’m always missing 1–2 of the filters and have to go to Home Depot or Lowe’s to buy them. Thad Tarkington and Kevin Barry were NCSU students when they came up with an e-commerce solution with an automated delivery service for air filters, and it’s grown like crazy ever since.

Size: 10–50

Investors: (Updated for 2019) $18.3M+ from One Better Ventures, RTP Capital Associates, Iron Yard Ventures, Cofounders Capital, Arsenal ventures, Azure Capital Partners and Michael Olander Jr., Triangle Angel Partners (TAP), Carolina Angel Network (CAN) and Wolfpack Investment Network (WIN).

CEO: Thad Tarkington


Pitch: In the real estate industry, the best leads are when people are thinking of moving. First uses predictive analytics to determine which people in a Realtor’s network are most likely to buy, and then offers up a variety of ways for a Realtor to connect to that person. The company is based in Durham at American Underground.

Size: 10

Investors: $5.6m million from IDEA Fund Partners and Sovereign’s Capital

CEO: Mike Schneider

Fokus Labs

Pitch: Fokus makes the Re:vibe — a wearable that is designed to help students focus in a school room setting.

Size:> $1m in sales

Investors: Cofounders Capital and The Launch Place

CEO: Rich Brancaccio


Pitch: In today’s world of possible noro-virus and e-coli outbreaks, food safety and traceability are huge priorities. FoodLogiQ provides a SaaS platform for managing the complete food supply chain and has more than 1900 customers with 18,000 locations as customers since its 2006 founding. It’s based in Durham

Size: 10–50

Investors: (Updated for 2019) $30.8m raised from Testo, Tyson Ventures and Renewal Funds.

CEO: Sean O’Leary (new for 2019)


Pitch: Sharing pictures and media directly on your mobile devices is complicated. You can email them or text them, but that can be cumbersome. Apple’s cloud and Android/Google don’t ‘play nice together. But FotoSwipe is a mobile app that lets you seamlessly swipe photos between any device.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $1M in three rounds from Cofounders Capital and Tom Lotrecchiano

CEO: Sylvain Dufour


Pitch: The average person in the US looks at their phone 74 times a day. Now you want to look at your phone don’t you? Ok, go ahead, I’ll wait… Welcome back. Ok that feeling you just felt? It’s no secret that smartphones and apps have been purposely designed to be addictive. They give you a little shot of dopamine and boom you are hooked. Enter: Freedom. Freedom helps you break the cycle. You can use Freedom to turn off all the notifications and other distractions in your life that keep you from being productive. Now, try not to look at your phone for the next 90 minutes and if you can’t, it maybe time to give Freedom a try.

Size: 10–20

Investors: 350k seed round in 2015. Investors include Robbie Allen, Mark Easley, Henry Copeland, MDO ventures, and Pilot Mountain Ventures.

CEO: Fred Stutzman

Get Spiffy

Pitch: An on-demand mobile app that allows you to schedule an at-work and at-home car wash or other preventative maintenance within minutes, founded in 2014. All communication and payment is handled through the app making this the most convenient way for you to keep your car Spiffy. The company is based in Durham.

Size: 10–50

Investors: Bull City Ventures, Idea Fund Partners, Wolfpack Investment Network (WIN) are investors.

CEO: Scot Wingo

Full disclosure: I’m a founder, investor and CEO of this company.

Global Data Consortium

Pitch: In many lines of business, you need to verify the identify of your customers and trading partners. GDC gathers information into the cloud and provides a SaaS system that delivers Electronic Identify Verification. There are other uses for the system such as data cleansing and address verification.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Bill Spruill

Global Value Commerce (aka Global Golf)

Pitch: Ed Byman was a pro golfer on the PGA tour and in 2001 realized there was an opportunity to sell golf equipment online. He’s built GVC into a global golf company carefully tucked away here in Raleigh. Full disclosure — this is a ChannelAdvisor customer.

Size: 100–200

Investors: $500k from Southern Capitol Ventures

CEO: Ed Byman

Hip Ecommerce 

Pitch: Mega e-commerce sites like eBay and Amazon are so big they don’t provide great verticalized shopping experiences. Hip Ecommerce’s CEO Mark Rosenberg is a stamp and comic collector. He grew frustrated with this fact and decided to change it. Hip Commerce builds vertical marketplaces (comics, postcards and stamps so far) that are heavily customized for the collector. Want that near-mint condition, CGC graded, Amazing Spider-Man number 300? Go to and find that puppy faster than you can anywhere else.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Mark Rosenberg

icimo LLC

Pitch: In today’s world, your business throws off more data than ever. Commercial analytics platforms like Tableau, SAS, etc. help, but icimo, of Apex, provides custom analysis templates and a best practice methodology on top of those platforms. It’s used by the retail, banking/finance and healthcare industries, founded in 2010.

Size: 50–110

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Bryce Gartner

Imangi Studios 

Pitch: We all love to play mini-games on our phones, but did you know that one of the top studios in this category was born and raised right here in the Triangle? Ever heard of Temple Run? Yep, that’s an Imangi game and they are based right here in the Triangle!! I would write more, but I have to go get some coins and multipliers and crush my last high score.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Keith Shepherd

Improved Nature

Pitch: Because of the cost and environmental impact of meat, one of the hottest category in consumer product goods is plant-based meat alternatives. Improved nature here in the triangle has developed technology that gives plant-based meats the same texture as real meat, dramatically improving the functionality of meat alternatives.

Size: 10–20

Investors: Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN) is an investor.

CEO: Rody Hawkins

Infina Connect

Pitch: Infina Connect is a SaaS platform that automates and optimizes the physician referral network system. Founded in 2010, it’s based in Cary.

Size: 10–50

Investors: >$1.9M in three rounds, investors undisclosed

CEO: Mark Hefner

Infinia ML 

Pitch: There’s a lot of hype around AI and Machine Learning — some would say too much hype. Infinia ML breaks through the hype and uses machine learning secret sauce born out of Duke to solve real-world problems.

Size: 20–50

Investors: $10m from Carrick Capital Partners

CEO: Robbie Allen


Pitch: ThinkOptimal offers several products that allow job seekers to optimize their resumes and prepare for interviews. This is in the HRIS category of software. (Human Resource Information System)

Size: 20–30

Investors: none

CEO: Dave McNasby


Pitch: Making the world more sustainable sounds easy, but what small changes an you make in your everyday habits to make a difference? JouleBug is an app that lets you measure your impact, get ideas on improved sustainability and you’ll earn buzz points.

Size: 11–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Grant Willard


Pitch: Scott Moody’s previous company created the technology that is now used by Apple (via acquisition) for its Touch ID finger print sensor. Now in Raleigh, Scott’s newest company (founded 2014) has an IoT platform that allows it to rapidly develop and release solutions oriented towards the older adult market. It’s got a contract to roll out the technology in senior living communities across Pennsylvania and is starting to expand to others with new funding.

Size: 10–50

Investors: 2019 Update — K4Connect raised an additional $12m in 2018 for a total of $22m from investors including AXA Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures, Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners, Better Ventures, Stephen Morton and Ben Yu

CEO: F. Scott Moody

Keen Decision Systems

Pitch: Helping CMO’s understanding the efficacy of their marketing is big business and the entire category is called MarTech. Keen provides SaaS software for measuring marketing performance and then uses machine learning to formulate a plan to achieve goals.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Greg Dolan

Keona Health

Pitch: This Chapel Hill-based healthcare IT company allows patients to communicate more directly with caregivers than using existing processes. Think of it as chat/messaging for your doctor.

Size: 50–110

Investors: $2.5M from Blueprint Health

CEO: Oakkar Oakkar


Pitch: Schools have a portfolio of software platforms and programs these days, which is great for students but hard for educators to manage. Raleigh-based Lea(R)n, founded in 2014, seeks to solve this problem with a platform and content that helps administrators and educators manage the ed-tech suite.

Size: 11–50

Investors: (Updated for 2019) $4m raised from: Emerson Collective, AT&T, Edovate, Gregg Burt, Jean Hammond, Kaplan, Techstars

CEO: Karl Rectanus

MacGregor Partners

Pitch: After building a large practice helping companies optimize their supply chain, they built software that they are now licensing called the Logistics Toolbox. A Tweener tipster told me this software is doing really well and now the company is mostly a software co.

Size: 40–60

Investors: none

CEO: Jason Ziegler

Magnus Health

Pitch: You operate a school or camp and need electronic access to students’ medical records. Who is allergic to peanuts? What’s the emergency contact for John Doe? This Raleigh company was founded in 2006 to make those questions easy to answer.

Size: 10–50

Investors: $100K from undisclosed investors (though David Gardner is on the board)

CEO: Brian Biddulph-Krentar


Pitch: There is a classic problem in Computer Science called the Traveling Salesman — how do you optimize sales calls? It’s theoretical there, but in the real world, many sales are done in-person with on-site visits. Map My Customers allows you to see on a variety of maps your customers and prospects.

Size: 10–20

Investors: Cofounders Capital

CEO: Matthew Sniff

Market Vue Partners

Pitch: Market Vue is a MarTech SaaS company that uses data to leverage marketing solutions. They focus on the Energy and Health industries and provide innovative visualizations of all the data.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: David Stirling

MATI Energy 

Pitch: MATI Energy was founded by Tatiana Birgisson, who was a Duke student looking for a healthy energy drink and couldn’t find one. So what does an enterprising entrepreneur do but invent a healthy alternative? MATI Energy was born.

Size: 11–50

Investors: (Updated for 2019) $6.7M invested including Steve Case, Idea Fund Partners, the Duke Angel Network and Carolina Angel Network (CAN)

CEO: 2019 — Eric Masters (former Coca-cola exec) is now CEO of MATI.


Pitch: I love these types of stories because I’ve lived one before. Stephen Malik started Medfusion (1.0) in 2000. Its SaaS software helped patients make appointments and pay medical bills. In May of 2010, Malik sold the Cary company to Intuit for $91 million and rebranded as Intuit Health. Flash forward to 2013 when Steve bought back the business for an undisclosed amount and Medfusion (2.0) was born.

Size: 50–100

Investors: $3M from Bull City Venture Partners and Hatteras Ventures

CEO: Kimberly Labow

Medicom Technologies Inc.

Pitch: This group of NCSU grads came up with a way to transfer large files in a peer-to-peer way rapidly, without lossage and securely. The first market they are using the technology for is patient data in radiology and they are growing like a weed.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $5.8m

CEO: Malcom Benitz


Pitch: Every school has a PTA and memberhub provides software to schools through the PTA so that schools have more engaged families.

Size: 10-20

Investors: $1.2m — investors unknown

CEO: Will Bowen


Pitch: Large companies struggle to get consumer feedback and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for complex user studies that don’t hit the mark. What if you could go straight to your potential customers and ask things like: “Hey millennials, what’s your favorite thing to add to your avocado toast? “ With a $2000 price for the top answers. Boom, now you are getting consumer feedback fast and for, well, 2/100 or 2% of the cost! Mindsumo provides a platform to do just that.

Size: 20–50

Investors: none

CEO: Keaton Swett

Mobile Reach

Pitch: Many businesses have technicians in the field and Mobile Reach creates software for them. They also have software for managing field assets.

Size: 10–30

Investors: none

CEO: Nasrin Azari


Pitch: MobileSmith develops a platform that companies use to publish mobile applications with little to no code. Simply drag and drop popular elements and you have an interactive mobile app. This Raleigh company was founded in 1993.

Size: 10–50

Investors: MobileSmith is a ‘penny stock’ traded on the OTCBB under MOST and was a spin-out of Smart Online’s mobile development platform

CEO: Bob Dieterle


Pitch: Grocery stores are investing millions if not billions in e-commerce (store pickup and delivery), but at the customer level, things start with…recipes. Myxx connects the top recipes to grocery stores. See a tuna casserole recipe you love, press a button and all the ingredients are added to your cart for Kroger, Harris Teeter, etc.

Size: 10–20

Investors: Cofounders Capital — $400k

CEO: Monica Wood

ndustrial -> </>

Pitch: ndustrial is a company building IoT solutions for industrial applications. Tomorrow’s factory will be totally outfitted with sensors — ndustrial is working on a solution for that future reality in Durham.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $1.4M in two rounds from Acorn Innovestments and Bay Grove Capital

CEO: Jason Massey

Pitch: Started in 1999, Needlepoint had a retail store, and using its great domain name,, started to do well online. The wife of Bob Young (of Lulu, Red Hat and PrecisionHawk fame) started the business and he is now serving as CEO.

Size: 10–50

Investors: Bootstrap (Bank of Bob)

CEO: Bob Young


Pitch: Dental supplies are extremely expensive and there are lots of middlemen. Net32 sells dental supplies direct to dentists at extreme discounts because they eliminate the middlemen.

Size: 11–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Pat Cassidy


Pitch: Brendan Morrissey moved to the area from LA as part of a Motricity acquisition and in 2009 founded Netsertive in Morrisville. He started by helping local electronics retailers advertise and has expanded to help national brands leverage their marketing into local markets through brand/dealer campaigns.

Size: 201–500

Investors: ~$46M from River Cities Capital, RRE Ventures, Greycroft, Harbert Venture Partners and Venture debt from Square 1 Bank

CEO: Brendan Morrissey

Nextlot, Inc.

Pitch: In today’s world of two-day e-commerce delivery thanks to Amazon, it’s easy to forget there is still a need for auctioneers. Bank foreclosures, estate sales and other events call for an auction and today’s auctioneers need to stay high-tech and current. Raleigh-based NextLot, founded in 2007, provides a platform that allows you to run your own auctions with online, mobile and webcast features.

Size: 11–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Scott Finkelstein

Offline Media

Pitch: David Shaner graduated from NC State and had an itch to start a company. He started Offline in Raleigh in in 2012 to help people reconnect with their local communities. Offline curates activities and places for your city. This creates an indispensable resource if you move or travel. Simply fire up Offline and you have an insider’s view to what is going on and where to go.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $2.2m from The Startup Factory, Joe Kutelski (formerly eTix) and McClatchy

CEO: David Shaner

Organic Transit

Pitch: Rob Cotter is an ex-auto industry guru who is looking to disrupt the transportation industry and guide the future of urban transportation. His first vehicle, the ELF, is a solar-powered electric platform that took Kickstarter by storm. Full disclosure, I’m on the board of Durham’s OT. And this one isn’t much software, but it’s solar and electric vehicles and that’s pretty cool — and there is definitely a software/e-commerce component.

Size: 10–50
Investors: $2.5M+ from Investors Circle and angel investors, also raised money in a Kickstarter campaign

CEO: Rob Cotter

Patagonia Health

Pitch: Ashok Mathur has been active in the Triangle startup scene since I can remember. In 2008, he started Cary-based Patagonia to build a SaaS EHR (electronic health record) platform that includes 15–20 different EHR apps.

Size: 10–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Ashok Mathur


Pitch: PatientPay is an online platform for patients to pay for their medical bills. Brings the simplicity of e-commerce to medicine.

Size: 11–50

Investors: $6.5M led by Mosaik Partners.

CEO: Tom Furr


Pitch: True-life story here. Let’s say the landscaping folks come and leave your gate open by accident. You let your dog, Rover out in the backyard, and an hour later go to let him in and …. uh-oh, he’s gone. What do you do? Enter Pawboost. Pawboost provides a site where you can post a lost pet alert everywhere in one place. Pawboost spreads your message through social media, emails and to a network of over 2m RescueSquad (a network of rescues, vets and other folks in the pet industry that help find and return lost pets) participants. It even will help you print out a flyer so you can get

Rover back safe and sound.

Size: 5–10 (confirmed their revenues get them on list)

Investors: none

Co-CEOs: Tim Kijewski and Clayton Gladieux


Pitch: When you are building cloud-based apps, one challenge is instrumenting them so that you know what customers are doing within the app. Raleigh’s Pendo has a platform that helps you not only solve this problem, but gives you actionable insights into what users are doing and the ability to easily message users to nudge them in the right direction (hey, try this feature!). Todd Olson (Rally Software) and Erik Troan (rPath/Red Hat) are the founders and they’re building a new headquarters in Raleigh in 2016. Pendo is the hottest startup in the Triangle right now.

Size: 250–350

Investors: (Updated for 2019) Pendo added $50m to their treasure chest, bringing the total up to $108m raised from Sapphire Ventures, Battery Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Core Capital Partners, Contour Venture Partners, Idea Fund Partners and angels

CEO: Todd Olson


Pitch: Modern sites and applications run on complex databases. Percona has created software for monitoring and optimizing database systems.

Size: 150

Investors: none

CEO: Peter Zaitsev


Pitch: Solid state electronics have revolutionized computing, lighting (Cree) and now Phononic has figured out how to apply it to refrigeration. From cooling CPUs to residential and commercial applications, Phononic is revolutionizing the 100yr+ old stagnant cooling market with a green solution that eliminates the need for energy hungry compressors, heat sinks and other traditional refrigeration mechanisms.

Size: 100–200

Investors: $160M from 8 investors including Venrock, Oak investment, UBS Wealth

CEO: Anthony Atti


Pitch: Social content creation tool for consumers and businesses, founded in Raleigh in 2013 by the founder of (which sold to CafePress in 2011).

Size: 10–20

Investors: $1.8M from Capitol Broadcasting, Michael Olander Jr. and Jon LaNasa

CEO: Jon LaNasa


Pitch: Drones! (drops mic and walks off stage). Seriously though, PrecisionHawk has a UAV platform that can do real-time/AI mapping for a variety of uses — agriculture, GIS, search/rescue, etc. Founded in 2011, it’s based in Raleigh.

Size: 51–200

Investors: (updated for 2019) $104M Third point ventures, Verizon Ventures, Bank of Bob (Bob Young), and Millennium Tech Ventures

CEO: Michael Chasen


Pitch: A very hot area is Internet of Things or IoT and that’s where ProAxion lives. I’m a software guy, so bear with me on this one. Let’s say you have a factory with all kinds of big machine things. If your factory is down, that is bad, but how can you know one of the machines is going to fail? Turns out that the vibrations change over time as bearings wear down, cogs de-cog and sprockets …you get the idea. Simply throw a Proaxion device on there and it will monitor those cogs, sprockets and bearings and alert you via the cloud when it thinks a machine is getting close to a failure. It’s like being able to see the future, but with a cloud.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $500k raised from Triangle Angel Partners (aka TAP) II

CEO: Justin Rothwell


Pitch: We’re all startups here, so we don’t have too many complex processes and workflows. But let’s say you have 10,000 people in your company and you need for department X to talk to department Y on a project in a seamless way. That’s what ProcessMaker does. You take the process and define it in the software. For example, someone in marketing comes up with a product image and passes it to legal for review, then it goes to the sales team, then finance, then HR, then IR, then back to legal and finally back to marketing with that entire chain of reviewers and processes well documented.

Size: 150–200

Investors: boot-strapped!

CEO: Brian Reale

Produce Box

Pitch: Courtney Tellefsen was a stay-at-home-mom in 2007. She wanted to understand where her food was coming from and support local NC farmers. Like anyone, she couldn’t get to the farmer’s market every week to buy fresh locally-sourced produce. The Produce Box was born! TPB now has a team of 200 folks that deliver thousands of produce boxes each week in the Triangle and Charlotte. It’s based in Raleigh.

Size: 50–200

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Courtney Tellefsen

Proficient Auto 

Pitch: You’re driving to work and your check engine light comes on. You know that’s going to be the start of a really bad day, that is before Proficient Auto. Proficient can come on-site (entirely mobile auto mechanic), diagnose your problem, give you a quote and fix it right on the scene. Based out of the Triangle, but also services Miami, FL.

Size: 10–20

Investors: Bootstrapped!

CEO: Robert Koencamp

Prometheus Group

Pitch: Prometheus was founded by NCSU alumni Eric Huang in 1998 and it’s based in Raleigh. It developed an add-on for SAP that helps with plant maintenance.

Size: 50–200

Investors: Prometheus Group raised an undisclosed amount from the large private equity company TA Associates.

CEO: Eric Huang


Pitch: Rich Lee founded a datacenter company,Hosted Solutions, which was acquired by Windstream for $310m back in 2010. I’m really excited that Rich is back at it with Pureport. Pureport helps companies navigate the complex world where you may have some workloads running in a physical datacenter and some running in a cloud. Pureport creates a unified network that’s easy to work with and they take care of all the complexity on the backend. Pureport is in the red hot space called DevOps (Developer Operations — the part of cloud development that deals with workloads, software rollout, data security, etc.) so this is definitely a Tweener company to watch.
Size: 20–30
CEO: Rich Lee


Pitch: Igor Jablokov sold his last company, Yap, to Amazon and they use it in this niche product called Echo/Alexa, so Igor has a really serious AI/Natural language background. He’s now turning that experience to the enterprise and leveraging AI/Voice for new enterprise solutions
Size: 20–30
Investors: $4.5m including Carolina Angel Network (CAN), Greycroft, Triangle Angel Partners (TAP), and Full Tilt Capital
CEO: Igor Jablokov


Pitch: Railinc of Cary provides rail data and IT services for the freight railroad industry. It was founded in 1999.
Size: 200–500
Investors: Bootstrap
CEO: Allen West

Real Magic 

Pitch: He’s back…..! Jesse Lipson knocked it out of the park when he sold Sharefile to Citrix. Then he convinced Citrix to bring a bazillion jobs to the Triangle and build a fancy building in the Raleigh warehouse area (he’s crazy everyone said, nobody will want to work in the warehouse area!). Bam- that became the hottest area in Raleigh. I mention all this, because the data clearly says when Jesse does something, he has a 100 batting average (that’s good for my fellow nerds), so you should take notice. With his second startup outing, Real Magic whose product is Levitate, Jesse is bringing enterprise CRM features to the small/micro business. Levitate integrates with your email program and helps you remember to build your relationships. “Hey, you haven’t talked to Tony in 2wks…Remember that Joe told you his daughter is graduating in early June!” stuff like that. In today’s hyper-noisy and connected World, relationships matter even more than later. We’ll be watching this one closely, stay tuned.
Size: 10–20
Investors: Bootstrapped by the Bank of Jesse
CEO: Jesse Lipson


Pitch: As you’ve probably noticed, there are a fair amount of industry-specific SaaS CRM solutions on our list. Realvolve, founded in 2012 in Raleigh, provides a SaaS CRM targeted to real estate agents.
Size: 10–50
Investors: $600K from angels and Lighter Capital
CEO: David Crumby (based in Denver)

Remarque Systems

Pitch: The Triangle has a ton of companies in drug development that do clinical trials. Remarque Systems has developed SaaS software for designing, managing and monitoring the risk in clinical trials.

Size: 10–20

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Badhri Srinivasan

Republic Wireless

Pitch: The founder of Bandwidth hated paying a huge cell bill for his family of five, so created a system that uses your wi-fi for calling instead of the cell network. Republic Wireless was born and spun out from Bandwidth before their IPO.

Size: 100–200

Investors: none

CEO: Chris Chuang

Restaurant Furniture Plus 

Pitch: In 2016, George Deeb moved from the windy city (Chicago) to the Triangle and since then he’s been a great addition to the ecosystem. George runs Red Rocket which is half growth consulting and half venture fund/private equity. (note: George/Red Rocket produce some great content, I highly recommend you check it out). In 2018, they acquired Restaurant Furniture Plus and transfer the HQ to the Triangle. Do you have a restaurant? If you said yes, you probably need furniture for your patrons to chill out on. Enter Restaurant Furniture Plus — your one-stop shop for all your restaurant furniture needs. Keep chugging George, we’re excited to see how big you can scale Restaurant Furniture Plus!
Size: 10–20
Investors: none
CEO: George Deeb


Pitch: Most B2B SaaS companies need outbound sales lead generation. Eric Boggs started at Bronto building this function, then did it again at Argyle Social and finally decided there is a company idea there in 2014. Durham-based RevBoss provides software and services that help recurring revenue businesses scale up their businesses rapidly without having to build their own SDR capabilities.
Size: 10–20
Investors: $1.1M from Sovereign’s Capital, Robbie Allen, Bruce Boehm and Alston Gardner
CEO: Eric Boggs

Reveal Mobile

Pitch: Brian Handly is one of the Triangle’s most successful serial entrepreneurs. After Stepleader Digital spun out of Capitol Broadcasting, it built mobile apps for media companies but Handly has helped it pivot to leverage beacon technology and Big Data to help advertisers reach a local audience. Reveal Mobile, born in 2015, gives advertisers insights into what their customers and target customer are doing in the local world.
Size: 10–20
Investors: $2.5M from Capitol Broadcasting, Bull City Venture Partners, Alerion Ventures, Idea Fund Partners and Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN) is an investor.
CEO: Brian Handly


Pitch: This is serial entrepreneur Michael Doernberg’s latest company (after selling SmartPath to DoubleClick). ReverbNation provides software and services for bands and is based in Durham.
Size: 50–200
Investors: $8.6M in 3 rounds from Bull City Venture Partners, Novak Biddle and SeventySix Capital
CEO: Michael Doernberg


Pitch: You have like 10 loyalty programs tied to tavel and you want to go on a free Alaskan Cruise. How do you figure that out? Enter RewardStock! Simply enter your goal and tie in your programs and RewardStock will help you figure out how to leverage all of your miles and points to achieve your goal.
Size: 10–20
Investors: $700k from Cofounders Capital and Mark Cuban
CEO: Jonathan Hayes

ROI Revolution

Pitch: ROI Revolution provides search engine marketing and other services to SMBs in various industries. Based in Raleigh, it was founded in 2002.
Size: 50–200
Investors: Bootstrap
CEO: Timothy Seward


Pitch: Roobrik is a HealthTech company that helps patients and their families make difficult health and care choices. As best I can tell, the main target audience for Roobrik is for senior citizens looking to transition from a home living experience to a more managed/senior citizen type experience. Roobrik’s private labels their solution so retirement homes can use it to help potential tenants and their families navigate that complex decision and options.
Size: 10–20
Investors: Carolina Angel Network (CAN) is an investor
CEO: Nate O’Keefe


Pitch: SaaS/cloud based IT management and help desk software, founded in 2007. It’s based in Cary but has an R+D office in Israel.
Size: 50–200
Investors: (Updated for 2019) $74M including Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, Carmel Ventures, Vintage Investment Partners, Gemini Israel Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Salesforce Ventures and Marker LLC
CEO: Doron Gordon

SEAL Innovation

Pitch: SEAL Innovation is a wearable/IoT company that has developed a connected necklace that detects if someone is having problems swimming and alerts the parents and/or lifeguard of the situation. Founded in 2010 and based in Raleigh.
Size: 1–10
Investors: $2M from Triangle Angel Partners and The Launch Place
CEO: Graham Snyder


Pitch: Ex-Red Hatter Billy Marshall is at again. ServiceTrade, a Durham startup he founded in 2012, makes mobile apps and web apps to help maintenance businesses deliver more service calls and connect with their customers.
Size: 10–50
Investors: $4.8M in two rounds from undisclosed investors
CEO: Billy Marshall

Shark Dreams 

Pitch: Baaaaabbbbbyyyy Shark, do-do-do-do… Sorry, I can’t stop singing that song when I write about this one. Shark Dreams is a mobile app in the HealthTech space. With an IoT pill bottle called LIVIT, Shark dreams allows health providers to monitor their patients remotely. “Did Sally take her medicine last night?” Shark dreams can answer that for you.
Size: 20–50
Investors: none
CEO: Dharma Nukarapu


Pitch: Every part of the hospital care experience is getting automated and ShiftWizard is bringing technology to Nurse’s scheduling. Founded by nurses, for nurses, ShiftWizard simplifies the complexities of nurse scheduling.
Investors: $3M from Rolling Hills Ventures and Resolute Venture Partners
CEO: Joe Velk


Pitch: I first met Jud Bowman when he was like 18 and started a mobile search engine called Pinpoint. They merged with another company and became Motricity which was one of the biggest exits in the Triangle. Jud knows a ton about the mobile world and his new company, Sift uses advanced big data analysis to understand and target cell phone users. Sift has built a profile of 1.2b app installation footprints and uses that to better target app downloads. For example, if a user has 4 travel apps, then they are more likely to download another travel app.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $3.2m from Wakefield Group and Idea Fund Partners

CEO: Jud Bowman


Pitch: Every drug candidate has to go through a complex clinical research process. Managing that is huge undertaking. SignalPath has software that helps manage the clinical research process.
Size: 10–50
Investors: $3M raised from unknown investors in 2016.
CEO: Ira Grossman


Pitch: If you have kids over the age of 5, you know that youth sports in the US is a very huge market, but did you know that youth sports leagues have to work with a byzantine old-school network to find and schedule referees? Have no fear, Silbo is innovating the space by building a marketplace for marketplaces. Need a Girls 14U Basketball and Baseball 15U referee by tomorrow.
Size: 10–20
Investors: $1.3m including IFP.
CEO: Brendan Szulik

Slingshot Coffee Company

Pitch: A husband-wife coffee enthusiast couple wanted to create coffee that was healthier and organically sourced. They also make cascara teas and cold-brew coffees. They were born in Raleigh, NC, but their e-commerce game is strong and their sales are exploding, catapulting them onto the Tweener list!

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Jenny Bonchak


Pitch: Stephen Fraser and Gart Davis left Lulu to start Spoonflower in 2008. Durham-based Spoonflower allows consumers to create and print their own custom fabrics, wall paper and gift wrap. It has created a rapidly growing marketplace in the fabric world.
Size: 50–200
Investors: $25M from North Bridge Equity Partners and Bull City Venture Partners.
CEO: Gart Davis

SMT (SportsMEDIA Technology Corp)

Pitch: Have you ever been watching a football game and seen the yellow first-down marker or those cool stats that float on the field? Well, most likely you can thank the local company SMT for those awesome effects. Now they have expanded to collecting stats, timing and scoring.

Size: 200–500

Investors: $26.3m from Vicente Capital Partners

CEO: Gerard Hall

Sports Endeavors,Inc (SEI)

Pitch: SEI started as a catalog company selling soccer and Lacrosse equipment globally. They when e-commerce came along, it was a natural and in the early days of the internet they bought some great domains like and Today they are one of the largest online sporting good companies in the US. They are based out of Hillsborough, NC

Size: 200–400

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Mike Moylan


Pitch: Integrating payments into your app, website or service is complex. Spreedly provides a cloud-based API that makes it easy to accept and manage payments. Nathaniel Talbott founded Spreedly in 2007 and it’s based in Durham.
Size: 11–50
Investors: $6M from E-Merge, AngelList
CEO: Justin Benson


Pitch: If you are a local restaurant or service company, you know that social media and sharing generates word of mouth and can be very valuable. But how do you get patrons to actively promote your business? Also how do you build loyalty? Stealz, founded in Raleigh in 2012, produces a mobile app that encourages customers to both be loyal and promote the business. Stealz had a ton of momentum in 2015, signing large McDonalds and other franchises.
Size: 11–50
Investors: $1.5M from Cofounders Capital, Triangle Angel Partners, Michael Olander Jr. and RTP Capital.
CEO: Jim Zidar


Pitch: I have no idea what StrongKey does, but they have a really cool octopus as their logo. Just kidding…Strongkey has a cyber security box/appliance you can install in your data center that encrypts your data on your network to keep it from prying eyes. It’s capable of handling billions of keys and 1000 transactions per second -so it’s targeted at large enterprises in industries where it’s super important to protect data (health care, finance, etc.)
Size: 10–20
Investors: none
CEO: Jake Kiser


Pitch: In 1998, we sold Stingray software to Rogue Wave — a public company. In 2001, a couple of our strategic folks, Daniel Jebaraj and Stefan Hoenig started SyncFusion with the idea to create next-generation components for developers. They’ve been grinding away at SyncFusion for 17yr now and made some smart bets on mobile development, Xamarin, and big data. They also changed their model from licensed to subscription. All without raising any external capital.

Size: 200–500

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Stefan Hoenig


Pitch: You have a sports team with coaches, players, assistant coaches and other constituents. You need to share a bunch of information around playbooks, schedules, plans, etc. but you want to do it in a secure/managed way. Teamworks, founded in Durham by a former Duke football player, is a software platform that allows you to manage, deploy and optimize that situation.
Size: 11–50
Investors: (2019 Update) Teamworks raised an additional $15m ($21m total) from General Catalyst on top of the $6M led by Seaport Capital
CEO: Zachary Maurides

Teamworks Solutions

Pitch: Yes — we apparently have two Tweeners named some variation of Teamworks! I discovered ‘this’ Teamworks while learning more about the other Teamworks. Another example of these Tweeners really hiding under the radar! Let’s say you run a factory or a service business that has technicians in the field doing maintenance. You will need software that enables the field techs to manage everything and work in a mobile way (through phone and tablets). Teamworks Solutions, based in Raleigh since a 2002 founding, has software that solves this problem and focuses on the c-store, education, healthcare and municipality industries.
Size: 10–50
Investors: Bootstrap
CEO: Craig Drouillard


Pitch: Some cool material was developed in the lab at NC State and Triangle serial entrepreneur, Chris Evans with Scott Bolin helped take it out of the lab and commercialize it as Tethis. Today the company has turned the material into super-absorbant polymers (SAP). I’m a software guy and have no idea what all that means, but evidently it can be applied to diapers, cleaning supplies and tons of other stuff.

Size: 15–25

Investors: $27m from Blue Hill Group, Carolina Angel Network (CAN), Wolfpack Investment Network (WIN)

CEO: Scott Bolin


Pitch: TelecomTech has always been big in the Triangle (anyone remember Nortel?) and thinQ is pioneering the next generation. Today, you can pull down your VOIP from the cloud and thinQ has a platform that lets you put your calls out to RFP so you can lower your prices. The team here spun out of which should come as no surprise to you and bodes well for their future. Tweener grads tend to create more…tweener grads!
Size: 25–50
Investors: $24m led by Turn/River Capital (October ‘18)
CEO: Aaron Leon

Three Ships 

Pitch: Zach Clayton started Three Ships in 2009 as a digital agency. He was like 16 then and now is pushing 21 and can finally have a beer on Beer Fridays. (Seriously though, it’s great to see this crop of young new folks starting cos. in the area). Anywho, Three Ships developed some interesting technology around SEO for brands and has since split into three separate companies to focus on three different areas. CRISP is a branding agency. Demand Signals provides SEO and content marketing. 3s Ventures provides customer acquisition services.

Size: 51–200

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Zach Clayton

Tilt/Tilt 365

Pitch: There’s an explosion of software for managing HR and people, called HRIS or Human Resource Information Systems. Tilt 365, based in Raleigh and founded in 2008, helps with assessments. If you want to do a self assessment and see how your peers see you — Tilt 365 has software for delivering and analyzing that. What makes you tick? What will make you happiest in your career? Tilt has also built a complete methodology around its assessments to help companies develop people and increase retention.
Size: 10–50

Investors: Undisclosed but David Gardner is an investor

CEO: Pam Boney

TiO Home Automation

Pitch: The Triangle has an explosion of IoT (Internet of Things) companies and TiO is focused on helping make home automation simpler. Their products start with a smart home app and they have a variety of hardware they integrate with to provide complete home automation.

Size: 10–30 people

Investors: none

CEO: Sanjay Patel

Undercover Colors

Pitch: Undercover Colors has developed fingernail polish for women that in addition to being a fashion statement, can detect the presence of date rape drugs in drinks. This will empower women to prevent sexual assaault. The founders spun the startup out of NC State University in 2014. It’s based in Raleigh.

Size: 10–20

Investors: $8.2M from Cofounders Capital, Cindy Whitehead,

CEO: Tyler Confrey-Maloney

Update: Raised $5.5M in 2016 along with a great deal of media attention.


Pitch: Another wearable IoT company, Valencell of Raleigh, has developed advanced biometric technology for wearables that it has licensed out to manufacturers. It was founded in 2006.

Size: 50–110

Investors: (Updated for 2019) $35M from Best Buy Capital, CBC Partners, TDF Ventures, G//Tech Ventures and True Ventures

CEO: Michael Dering


Pitch: Validic gives developers of healthcare apps and insurance companies and healthcare systems one common interface to support all the different wearables and medical devices out there. Based in Durham, it was founded in 2010.

Size: 51–200

Investors: $18.4M raised from 11 investors including Mark Cuban, Greycroft, SJF Ventures and Kaiser Permanente Ventures

CEO: Drew Schiller

Vertical IQ

Pitch: In 2010, Bobby Martin had the idea to create software to help bankers call on businesses (They’ve never called me — who knew they even did that!) The Raleigh company now has over 20,000 users at ~100 banks.

Size: 20–50

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: T. Kevin McNamara is president with Martin serving as chairman.

Virtue Labs

Pitch: There’s an explosion of new brands because the cost to create a brand has come down thanks to the digital/e-commerce revolution. Virtue is a consumer product goods (CPG) company in the beauty category. They have created a keratin-based haircare brand that repairs hair reducing frizz and split ends. They sell through the various beauty channels and have a very strong direct e-commerce game.

Size: 10–20

Investors: Bootstrap

CEO: Melisse Shaban

Vital Plan 

Pitch: There are lots of confusing information about natural remedies. Braden Rawls partnered with her father to provide an alternative. In addition to tons of great content on the subject, they offer their own line of supplements.

Size: 11–50

Investors: 2019 Update: Vital Plan has raised $1.2m from investors including the Carolina Angel Network (CAN)

CEO: Braden Rawls


Pitch: Trash and waste is a huge problem. When it comes to trash collection, there’s no economic incentive to generate less waste because we all pay the same for trash collection (by neighborhood/region). What if you were billed more the more you throw away? Wastezero has created a system to do exactly that. Wastezero’s system is used in 800 locations and it has proven to reduce waste by 44%.

Size: 30–50

Investors: none

CEO: Mark Dancy

Wiser Systems 

Pitch: Wiser systems uses the latest IoT technologies to allow companies to manage assets. Let’s say you are Indiana Jones and you have just found something like, oh, the Lost Ark. You store that Ark in a huge warehouse. Now it’s 4-yrs later and you want to find it? What do you do? You call Wiser Systems. Imagine if you took your Ark when you checked it in and put an IoT doo-dad on there. Then whenever you need the Ark, you look at a cloud-based version of your warehouse and ‘blip’ there it is right there in the back left corner.

Size: 10–20

Investors: none

CEO: Elaine Rideout

Written Word Media

Pitch: The trend toward self-publishing is huge. Amazon is driving this, and locally, we have a major player in Lulu. But these platforms give authors tools for writing, editing and publishing but what about marketing? Written Word Media of Durham has a platform and network that helps authors get their books discovered. The network has 18,000 authors and over 600,000 readers looking for book recommendations.

Size: 10

Investors: $50K from NC IDEA, Bootstrap

CEO: Ricci Wolman


Pitch: We’ve all heard the buzz around big data. One of the underlying technologies is called Hadoop and it’s open-source software out of Yahoo! Hadoop gives you a good foundation for a big data map-reduce system, but since it’s OSS, like Linux/Red Hat, it falls short of what many commercial enterprises need from a system. Enter a host of startups (Cloudera and Hortonworks are probably the best known). Zaloni is a RTP-based Hadoop startup, founded in 2007, that adds enterprise data management to Hadoop. What’s that mean? Well if you have a big Hadoop implementation (terabytes), the OSS management tools leave a lot to be desired. Zaloni gives you the ability to pull in large amounts of data, organize the data, monitor and extract it. It also gives you the ability to monitor permissions and workflows (who did what, when to what data and were they allowed to?). This space is so hot — I don’t think Zaloni will be on the Tweener list for long. It’s likely it will get snapped up by one of the big players out there

Size: 50–200

Investors: $7.5M from Sierra Ventures

CEO: Ben Sharma

Websites for these Tweeners are available on Wingo’s Medium post.


Heads up, entrepreneurs: Scot Wingo building new ‘Tweener’ list, plans a party