A boisterous, enthusiastic crowd of more than 200 people – described by several attendees as the most diverse they had ever seen at a Triangle networking event – turned out Monday night for the Startup Social from WRAL TechWire and Big Top. But rather than try to use words to describe the event, I chose to let photos convey the message.

MVTRAK CEO Noel Heiks, right, chats with Michael Bisse, left, and Chris Bullock

On all my years (more than 20) about covering technology and life science across North Carolina, I had never seen a crowd like this one.

Aisha Cotton and Najauna White of the Durham Convention Visitors Bureau talk startups with Richard Berryman of SpokeHub

Approximately half the crowd at the first social launched by the Capitol Broadcasting sister companies was made up of women and minority entrepreneurs, which took place at partner LaunchBio and The Chesterfield building.

John Austin of Groundworks and Lacey Hendrix of Beard and Lady pose for a snapshot.

Not wanting to rely on my own observation of events over the years, I sought out several people and asked them specifically: “Is this the most diverse crowd you have seen at an event like this?”

Vanessa Roth, left, and Catharine Song took a moment from networking for a photo.

The unanimous response: Yes.

Adam Klein, who helped build American Underground as its chief strategist, shares a moment with Linda Holcman of Whats Next Ventures.

The audience certainly added to the growing reputation that the Triangle’s startup community is rapidly becoming more diverse as startups continue to launch at places such as American Underground and HQ Raleigh, which strive hard to encourage minority entrepreneurs.

A point: Adam Klein, who helped build The AU as its chief strategist and now has a bigger role within Capitol Broadcasting, turned out for the social. He spent several minutes talking with Linda Holcman of Puerto Rico. The founder and CEO of Whats Next Ventures is currently in the Triangle after receiving support from HQ Raleigh as part of a program to assist entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico.

Molly Demarest of Big Top addresses the big crowd at The Chesterfield.

Also impressive was the mere size of the crowd – estimated to be the largest to date by Big Top, which has rebranded what was known as ExitEvent.

Looking out over the Startup Socials big crowd

Big Top and WRAL TechWire will be hosting events monthly across the Triangle in 2018. There’s no charge to attend.

And if the first one is any indication, you will want to be at the next one.


Source: WRAL Tech Wire | By Rick Smith | January 23, 2018