RALEIGH — After three days of back-to-back afternoon sessions and evening events, Raleigh-Durham Startup Week (RDSW) closed in Raleigh yesterday with an evening celebration at Pendo.

The event started on Tuesday in Durham, with multiple tracks across three Durham locations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Thursday, the sessions were in Raleigh, with the main tracks split across two Raleigh Founded locations.

Raleigh Founded was also one of the event sponsors.

“We were delighted by the turnout for all four tracks hosted at our Capital Club and Warehouse locations,” Lauren Romer, Director of Raleigh Founded, told me after Thursday’s events.

Thursday’s sessions featured several notable speakers, including Jesse Lipson, founder of Sharefile and current founder of Levitate. Lipson was also one of the original co-founders of Raleigh Founded, along with Christopher Gergen, Brooks Bell, and Jason Widen.

Raleigh data startup Levitate expands reach in financial communications sector

Volunteer-led event

Romer told me that she thinks our community is fortunate to have volunteers who were willing to come together and plan the event.

I spoke with Wade Minter, one of the event volunteers, about why he volunteered for RDSW.

“I volunteered for Raleigh-Durham Startup Week because the Triangle, my home for the past 24 years, is a vibrant and unique place to live and to grow a business,” Minter told me after the event.

Minter is the Founder and CTO of Suggestion Ox, a startup he recently pitched at CED Venture Connect. He is also a Product Principal at Dualboot Partners and the arena public address announcer for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

Minter spoke in the RDSW Startup 101 track on Thursday and was one of 18 volunteers who helped organize the event.

“By focusing attention and resources on the Triangle startup scene, we give founders the confidence to turn their business ideas into reality, and to make the Triangle area the best version of itself that it can be,” Minter told me.

Closing at Pendo

In the evenings, RDSW shifted to larger locations, where participants gathered for more in-depth panels and discussions. While RDSW was free, attendees needed to register separately and pay a $10 cover to access these evening events.

Thursday’s evening sessions were held at Pendo.

Heather McDougall, Chief Inspiration Officer for the City of Raleigh’s Office of Strategy & Innovation, told me that the panel during Thursday’s evening session was an impactful part of the week.

“It’s hard to choose one, but the packed closing night event at Pendo with Jessica Mitch Homes, Bernard Worthy, Tina Tang, and Rachael Classi was a key highlight,” she said.

RDSW evening event at Pendo featuring (L-R) Jessica Mitch Homes, CEO of Momentum; Bernard Worthy, Co-Founder and CEO of LoanWell; Tina Tang, Cofounder and CEO of Bristles, Inc.; and Rachael Classi, Founder and CEO of Tiny Earth Toys | Photo by Sarah Glova

The City of Raleigh was a co-sponsor of RDSW, and McDougall noted that the city was thrilled to be involved with an event focused on startups and innovation.

“The City of Raleigh is always proud to support events that bring together and showcase our thriving startup community,” said McDougall. “RDSW was a fantastic opportunity to catalyze our collective energy and drive innovation in the Triangle.”

The night’s final event was a fireside chat between Chris Heivly, former MapQuest founder and Co-Chair of RDSW, and his fellow RDSW Co-Chair, Archie O’Connor. The two discussed Heivly’s new book, Building the Fort, a field guide for entrepreneurial communities.

One-on-one: ‘Startup Whisperer’ Chris Heivly talks Raleigh-Durham Startup Week, Triangle’s success, new book


Looking ahead

Raleigh Founded increased its participation this year after sponsoring the inaugural RDSW event in 2022.

“We’re looking forward to hosting again next year and furthering our engagement in the planning,” said Romer.

Minter also told me he’s looking forward to next year.

“For the coming years, it’s my hope that RDSW continues to provide the tools that an entrepreneur needs to start, grow, and succeed in their business,” said Minter. “From information on acquiring funding, to access to mentorship from other successful entrepreneurs, to connections in the wider world, the collective power of the Triangle business community is the most powerful catalyst toward startup success.”