RALEIGH – Welcoming the Business of Software USA conference on Monday morning, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin shared a message of inspiration: Jump over the edge.

Baldwin told the over 200 attendees about her experience on Friday of rappelling down the side of the 30-story Wells Fargo building in downtown Raleigh.

“It was terrifying and empowering all at once,” Baldwin said from the stage. “And that’s like running a business. It can be terrifying and empowering.”

Baldwin’s stunt was to promote this weekend’s annual Special Olympics fundraiser “Over the Edge,” which was expected to raise close to $150,000.

Charles Inokon is attending the three-day conference Business of Software (BoS) conference in Raleigh this week—and he told TechWire that he “really enjoyed” hearing about the Mayor’s experience.

“Her encouragement that we all do something that is impactful is so critical to what our ecosystem here in Raleigh needs to be about,” said Inokon.

Inokon is based in Raleigh, where he’s co-founded Cadence Cash, a software platform that provides funding to small businesses, prioritizing women and minority-owned small businesses.

“Inclusivity and impact will be the hallmark of our success as a community and will serve to attract more entrepreneurs and investors alike who want the same thing: to solve problems for customers in a way that is impactful and uplifts the community overall,” said Inokon.

David Watkins, RTP-based founder of PlanMyKids, also told TechWire that he appreciated the Mayor’s message at BoS.

David Watkins, founder of PlanMyKids, one of CED’s 20 scholarship attendees at this week’s Business of Software conference in Raleigh | Photo provided by Watkins

“The Mayor could’ve spent her time giving a well deserved victory lap for bringing the conference here,” said Watkins. “But instead she focused on a personal story about courage, trusting others, and taking risks, appropriate for the conference.”

CED Supports 20 Scholarship Attendees

Inokon and Watkins are among 20 entrepreneurs who received a scholarship conference ticket from the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED).

Business Of Software Conference is moving to Triangle; CED picks 20 founders to attend

Inokon told TechWire that he’s already drawn value from the Monday morning sessions.

“Jason Cohen’s talk in building a defensible strategy was incredible,” said Inokon. (Cohen is the founder and Chief Innovation Officer at WP Engine, the 6th largest public website platform in the world. His talk, focused on how to create a defensible strategy, kicked off the conference.)

“It has completely changed my thinking on how best to make informed decisions and how those decisions connect to create a clear map of our strategy,” said Inokon.

TechWire spoke to a few other CED-sponsored participants—like Pete Nadolny, the Outer Banks-based founder of Townhall.pro.

“I like how the first talk set the stage for focus,” Nadolny told TechWire after Cohen’s opening session. “As an executive, this is always the challenge—choosing where to spend time.”

Pete Nadolny, Co-founder of townhall.pro (left) with Ray Antonino, Myrtle Beach-based founder of PERMITS.com | Photo provided by Nadolny

Allison Wood, CEO and co-founder of Durham-based DaVinci Education, told TechWire that she’s to sessions about pricing strategy.

“And I’m most excited about BoS coming to Raleigh,” Wood told TechWire over text message. “Because we are worthy of being the center of this smart and innovative universe of software leaders!”

Amy Gardinier, Holly Springs-based cofounder of Givefinity, told TechWire she’s excited to attend BoS, “all thanks to a scholarship from CED.”

“I look forward to hearing all the insights and best practices to building successful software companies,” Gardinier said over email. “I love that this incredible event has relocated to the Raleigh community… it is a game-changer for our entrepreneurs and ecosystems.”

While these founders are based in NC, BoS organizers told TechWire that there are attendees from across the US and at least 12 other countries.

Allison Wood, CEO and co-founder of DaVinci Education (left), with Boston-based Dan Mackey of Allarium (center) and UK-based Mark Stephens of IDR Solutions (right) | Photo provided by Wood

Welcome to Raleigh

Baldwin closed her remarks by encouraging participants to consider the “over the edge” risks they might take on in their own businesses.

“Challenges make us better people,” said Baldwin. “And they help us address bigger needs.”

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin at the Business of Software (BoS) Conference USA 2023 in Raleigh | Photo provided by Ian Clifford, BoS Photographer

She also thanked Business of Software for being in Raleigh.

“Make a difference. Have an impact. And stay away from 30-story buildings,” said Baldwin at the close of her remarks. “Thank you everyone. Have a great time in Raleigh, and we appreciate you being here.”

Business of Software Conference is in the Triangle to stay