The @bigfleet beat: February's startup news and events | CLT Blog
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The @bigfleet beat: February’s startup news and events

Posted on 15 Feb 2012 by bigfleet

Each month, Jim Van Fleet distills the city’s startup community news and events into a single, easy-to-read digest. You can get this same information delivered directly to your inbox by signing up here.


Hello again, readers! We’ve gone another month, and I see nothing to make me think the Charlotte startup scene is slowing down. It’s an exciting time, and I hope you’ll find this newsletter helpful in finding ways to contribute. We are all better off when any of us gets more involved.

Of course, one of the reasons I am asking for help is that I personally am transitioning the responsibilities I’ve held in the community to new contributors. As I write this, I am at what will be my last Meetup as the organizer of the Charlotte Linux User Group ( version). I never did a very good job in the first place, so the group is well rid of me. Thursday the 16th will be my retirement coffee for the Charlotte Ruby group, where I’ll be handing my responsibilities over to a committee. Fortunately, I did a better job there, and I can’t wait to see what comes out of the Charlotte Ruby group in the next year.

I’m certain those communities will grow and thrive without seeing as much of me, and that’s a great feeling. It’s been a pleasure to be of service, and I hope others will come to know that pleasure. If you are a member of a meetup, try asking your organizer how can you help. I can assure you that you will learn a lot!

Stand Up and Be Counted

We are only six weeks or so into the year, but it’s easy to identify one of the recurring themes of 2012 for the entrepreneurial community. Multiple groups and individuals are working to help represent this community (especially its young businesses) to the city of Charlotte and its larger business organizations. We’ll be going through concrete examples of that work here in this newsletter for the next few months.

David Jones was the Charlotte Business Journal’s man of the year in 2010 as recognition of Peak 10’s $410 million dollar exit, as well as his presence in this community. In an attempt to help contribute numbers to the conversation about city policy, he is collating the statistics around the size of startups already in operation here in Charlotte. Many startups are rightly concerned about sharing this data, but all elements of this form are optional. You can contribute as much to the aggregates as you would like, anonymously. I believe the data will be used for conscientious and humble service. Please consider completing this secure form to both indicate your pride in being a Charlotte startup, and to donate a dollar to cancer research via All-In To Fight Cancer.


All-In To Fight Cancer

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Cost: Starts at $50
Venue: The New Comedy Zone at NC Music Factory (map)
Host: Technekes, ettain group, Clairvoyant Ventures

That same charity is also having its annual poker tournament in the coming weeks. Odds are high that most readers have had their lives touched by cancer. It’s difficult to think of a cause more worthy. Steve Amedio of Technekes will be getting word out around the entrepreneurs in the area, so if you are a poker fan and would enjoy table time with other Charlotte entrepreneurs and developers, you should consider attending and playing. Even if you are hopeless at poker, you should feel free to make a donation at the event registration page.

NC IDEA information session

Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 12:00 PM1:00 PM
Cost: Free, (but we suggest you brown bag lunch)
Venue + Host: Packard Place (map)

NC IDEA offers multiple grants of $50k to companies throughout North Carolina twice each year. Their 62 grants have totaled over $2.3m in investments here in North Carolina. The spring cycle begins today.

Charlotte had three companies win grants in 2011. The increase in participation and awards from the Charlotte area are really making an impression across the state. I can assure you from first hand experience, the rewards are considerable. I would certainly recommend it for anyone serious about creating wealth with their business.

Seeking this grant is not for the squeamish, however. The application process will challenge you to think critically and honestly about your business, and to answer tough questions. If you are unafraid, and feel you have the grace to face the fire, learn more about taking the first steps at a brown bag lunch at Packard Place.

Optimizing MySQL configuration

Wednesday, February 22, 2012, 7:00 PM
Cost: Free
Venue: RedVentures (map)
Host: qcPHP

I spoke at length at the CharLUG meeting mentioned above about MySQL, and Percona’s role in the future of that critical open-source codebase. MySQL and Linux are testaments to the power and quality of what open-source can produce. Since Oracle, a vicious competitor not always focused on technical quality, now controls the MySQL name, its future is a topic of interest across the industry. It’s hard for me to imagine a better steward than Percona. They couple a history of performance innovations on the platform with a role in maintaining and supporting widely-recognized production deployments. Thanks to Jason Hunter, organizer of the PHP User Group, we’ll have Percona’s founder and CEO, Peter Zaitsev, speaking in Charlotte on the 23rd for the second time in two years.

I heard a rumor that there will be free beer, the usual for RedVentures events, but don’t quote me. Join the meet up and RSVP to hear Peter speak.

Startups at Packard

Tuesday, February 28, 2012, 7:00 PM
Cost: Free, with the name of your startup.
Venue: Packard Place (map)
Host: Les Porter

In last November’s newsletter, you read about a drink-up for Charlotte startups that ended up being very well attended. Packard Place has called on a few different organizers including Les Porter to have a sequel. Les has been behind some great events in the community, drawing some inspiration from his involvement with “This Week In Startups” with Jason Calacanis. Based on your response to his events, Charlotte has grown to be the largest listed meet up for “This Week in Startups” in the world. I’ll drink to that!

Les also does a great job of monitoring Twitter for CLT Startup news, so if you’d like more, follow @CLTLaunch. Les also beat me to the punch announcing his event here at CLT Blog, but he makes an even better case to attend, so check it out!

Bits and pieces

Charlotte Venture Challenge due date approaches

The Five Ventures business plan competition has been a fixture on the startup scene here for many years. Big changes, including the name, are happening this year, and I spoke with Devin Collins recently to confirm what I had heard. The winner of this year’s business plan competition will receive a convertible note for $50k. Nothing would please me more than having it be a newsletter reader!

Up to $100k will be available in the competition, but the $50k note to the winner is being guaranteed by Ian Ferguson and Vaterra Capital. They are convinced of the quality of talent here in the Charlotte area. I would bet on Ian and his fund being supporters of this community for a long time to come, and his enthusiasm is welcome. There are still two potential workshops to attend for the Charlotte Venture Challenge meant to prepare you for the application process.

The due date to apply for Charlotte Venture Challenge is the 29th of February, so get working! Finish early so you can come to the drink-up above.

3D Systems named a Finalist at CES

CNET named 3D Systems a finalist by CNET at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January. Newsletter members read a special edition that asked for votes for the People’s Voice awards, which, unfortunately, 3D Systems did not win. Nevertheless, our hats are off to Rajeev Kulkarni and his team for this achievement. CES is an international showcase, and for any Charlotte entrepreneur to be recognized is something we can all be proud of.

Ignite Charlotte 4

I feel certain that one of the reasons behind Rajeev’s success is his passion for his field. If you’d like a sample, try watching Rajeev’s inspiring Ignite Charlotte 1 talk. Personal and professional passion is the root of everything at Ignite Charlotte. If that’s the kind of audience you want to reach, the window for sponsorship of the event is closing soon. E-mail meganvanfleet at to sponsor Ignite Charlotte 4 on March 20, 2012. The list of speakers for Ignite Charlotte has also been released, and there are a few talks I can’t wait to see!

Hackerspace moving

Charlotte Magazine coverered Hackerspace Charlotte recently. It’s no secret that I and many others find the Hackerspace inspiring. I’ve wanted to tell the story of the Hackerspace getting bigger for awhile, but now we have agreed to a new lease, and are moving to a larger facility. If you’re interested in Hackerspace Charlotte, watch this space for the grand re-opening announcement! The new facility will be able to accommodate many more interested Charlotteans.

AddShoppers launches

One of my favorite local entrepreneurs, Jon West, has launched AddShoppers. His experience with the e-commerce space while at 3tailer helped him identify the need for online retailers to better measure sharing, virality, and promotions via social media, and now he is taking it on the B2B circuit. Take a look– I know Jon would appreciate your feedback!


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