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NEW: The guide was updated 1/14/16 with the post Scot Wingo's 2016 List of Triangle "Tweeners". Stay tuned for more updates!

I recently wrote about Triangle Tweeners—those companies that are not early stage, but also not late stage. This was in response to an influx of new talented folks entering the Triangle and looking for a great company to join. 
Well, the response to that article was a bit overwhelming. Since then, I’ve had even more inbound folks ask about other parts of the ecosystem. Even long-time local entrepreneurs and other members of the ecosystem have asked questions like: 

  • Thanks for the Tweener list, can you do one for late and early stage? 
  • Where in the Triangle can I connect with a tech founder (or biz)?
  • Does the Triangle have any incubators? 
  • Who are the best mentors for my idea in the Triangle? 
  • I know that NCSU, UNC and Duke have some entrepreneurial resources, what are they? 
  • I live in XX (insert one of Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, Cary, Morrisville, Apex, etc.), is there any startup community that’s local to me? 
That got me thinking—while there is tons of great content if you are already pretty familiar with the Triangle ecosystem and want to keep up to date with it, I’ve never seen an introductory type guide for those moving to the Triangle or for those who have been here a while in a non-entrepreneurial capacity and are now interested in jumping into the community. 

Introducing ‘Scot’s Guide to the Triangle Startup Ecosystem’ 

Over the next series of posts, I plan to flush out more about the Triangle Startup Ecosystem with the end goal being a comprehensive, living guide for folks new to our area or the startup community. 
At the heart of the framework for this ecosystem is startups. As previously mentioned, the framework has three tiers of startups: 
Scot's Guide to Triangle Startup Cloud Graphic
Credit: Scot Wingo

  1. Early Stage — Early stage companies are most numerous, but also tend to have a higher failure rate. Their revenues are < $1 million/year in revenue and they have less than 10 employees. 
  2. Tweeners —Tweeners have made it out of the primordial soup that is early stage, which is indicated by their revenue (> $1 million/year in revenue) and company size (> 10 employees). 
  3. Late Stage — Late stage companies have revenues over $100 million and/or 500 employees. Frequently they have had an IPO or exit of some kind as well (but not required). 
Building a startup is hard work and requires a deep set of supporting infrastructure. There are six categories of the Triangle Startup Ecosystem Framework: 

  1. Universities — One of the core components of the Triangle Startup Ecosystem is the universities. Talent and ideas are the lifeblood of any startup and with NCSU, UNC and Duke (as well as several smaller universities) nearby, the Triangle has three factories pumping out a lot of the key ingredients for Startups. That being said, what are the entrepreneurial efforts going on at each university and what’s the best way to approach them? 
  2. Mentors and Angels – We have a ton of serial entrepreneurs who make great mentors and angel investors (some serial entrepreneurs, some not). Who are they and how can you meet them/reach out? 
  3. Investors — There are lots of knocks about the lack of investors in the area, but I think when you see them on a list alongside the funding activity we are seeing as a region, you’ll reconsider. 
  4. Community, Content and Events — The Triangle is rich with organizations that produce content and events and foster a sense of community. There are so many that it can be hard to understand the focus of each group and where to begin your networking and/or education.
  5. Startup Oriented Vendors — The Triangle has a ton of law firms, accountants, banks and other vendors that a healthy young startup is going to need to tap into. The challenge is which of these vendors really work with startups, which understand your needs (and don’t charge an arm and a leg). We’ll have the scoop for you. 
  6. Incubators and Workspaces — Perhaps the largest new set of ecosystem players in the Triangle are startup-focused incubators, accelerators and workspaces. This space is exploding. We'll capture it all here.
The result of combining all of these is this Triangle Startup Ecosystem Framework: 

Scot's Guide to the Triangle Startup Ecosystem
Credit: Scot Wingo

Here are links to the latest versions of the subcomponents of the guide along with the latest update timeframe: 
Triangle Startups: 
  • Early Stage (coming soon) 
  • Tweeners, last updated 1/14/16 
  • Late Stage (coming soon) 
Triangle Startup Supporting Infrastructure: 
*To submit your organization, event or company to be included in one of these guides, please email the information to news@exitevent.com.