Editor’s note: Jen McFarland is Founder and Chief Boss Lady at Marit Digital and is a contributing writer to WRAL TechWire.


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – The second Raleigh-Durham Startup Week (RDSW) is in the books. But before moving on to planning another, let’s take a look back at 2023’s headline maker.

Last week’s event wrapped up on Thursday, the third day of sessions spanning locations in Durham and Raleigh. The event featured talks in four diverse tracks: Startup 101, Legal & Finance, Design, Development, and Product Management, and Tech & Society. Speakers and panels represented investors, local business leaders, and startup founders from the Triangle and beyond. The event truly lived up to its name.

Raleigh-Durham Startup Week ends on a high note at Pendo

Volunteer Support

One of the most amazing this about Raleigh-Durham Startup Week is the price tag – the event is free to attendees, with small fees associated only with a couple of evening events. This would not be possible without donations and company support, as well as the efforts of a team of volunteers.

More than two dozen volunteers were involved in pulling RDSW together this year, with a core team of volunteers meeting weekly to coordinate the schedule and logistics.

“I wanted to contribute and give back to the area of RTP that was so influential in my early career while in college,” said Nick Sather, a volunteer and Product Marketing Lead at Evophant.

Location, Location, Location

Among the volunteers were staff at the event venues Raleigh Founded and the American Underground. The dual locations for the event offered an excellent opportunity to introduce attendees to these spaces, both of which offer great resources for entrepreneurs and startups.

“Our mission is to be the ‘front door’ to the local startup community for new and relocating founders,” said Tim Scales, RDSW volunteer and the Executive Director at the American Underground.

“Startup Week is a key piece of that — we saw hundreds of new folks come through our doors last week, getting their first view of both the American Underground community and the broader startup network. My hope is that they all left with the knowledge that there is an ecosystem of people and organizations they can easily tap into to find support and grow their ventures.”

The Community Makes the Difference

Many saw positive indicators in the turnout and talks for the event.

“New business growth in North Carolina keeps breaking records, and last week we saw many of those early-stage and first-time entrepreneurs attending Startup Week to build their skills and make valuable connections,” said Scales.

“[The] greatest strength is the combo of a large pool of talent and the friendly nature of that talent,” said Sather.

Others have echoed that sentiment. It’s this community that makes events like Startup Week and the recent Venture Connect 2023 so beneficial and popular for new companies in the Triangle and beyond.

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And that positivity and community support aren’t going anywhere.

“We will absolutely continue to host the Durham sessions of next year’s Startup Week,” said Scales. “And [we’re] already looking at ways to grow and improve the event.”

In his talk with Dr. Sarah Glova for TechWire last week, startup whisperer and event co-chair Chris Heivly talked about future plans for this event and others.

“The biggest dream I have is that there’s something happening that’s of interest to somebody at least every month,” said Heivly. “Maybe there’s 10 to 12 of these things, with a signature event like this, you know, once a year. So no matter what role you have, you can learn best practices, you could find other peers, you could use it as a way for people to connect with each other so they can do their jobs better.”

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