That was the email I sent to Joe Procopio at 5:15 PM on Thursday. It had been raining all day and was still coming down. Before I headed to Major Bull, the Paradoxos event on Thursday night, I wanted to make sure it was still going to happen.
So by 6 PM I was driving from Chapel Hill into Durham, letting 15-501 take me toward what looked like a bad scenic shot from Twister. There was a black blanket covering Durham.
I'm exaggerating slightly. But the weather was bad.
As it turns out, Durham—and the Triangle—didn't really care. When I arrived, CCB Plaza, much of which had been covered with tents, was milling with a few hundred people. There was a band on stage, several local breweries were pouring, and food trucks dotted the perimeter of the plaza. Without the Twister-esque weather, there would have been hundreds more people at the event, but there were plenty there.
Major Bull was the first evening event of Paradoxos, the new two-day festival in Durham that brings together startups, food, beer, and music—defining elements of Durham culture. I say "is" because while it's over for this year, the plan is for Paradoxos to become an annual festival. Major Bull was held Thursday from 5:30 to 10 pm after (Triangle) Startup Factory Pitch Day and followed by an after party at Bull McCabes.
As Adam Klein of American Underground told me, "Durham and the Triangle are becoming known as an entrepreneurial destination but often people see just snippets of the startup community here. Paradoxos allowed us to show the broad range of activity and excitement to locals and visitors during two, high-energy days."
That was my experience at Major Bull on Thursday.
I arrived at CCB Plaza on Thursday around 6:30 PM with a friend and his 11 year-old daughter (not my typical startup event entourage, but this wasn't a typical startup event). The first person I saw that I knew wasn't an entrepreneur—it was Leslie, a musician. I had a great panini from the Sweet & Savory food truck, listened to the band and saw a few magic tricks with my 11 year-old friend. Someone asked me to paint an art board for a nonprofit.
I also had conversations with several entrepreneurs and visited the Bandwidth tent to see how the Republic Wireless unlimited plan is progressing. 4G is coming. Good.
I talked with a few people about the pitches given by (Triangle) Startup Factory teams that morning at Carolina Theater ('Triangle' has been dropped from the name of the accelerator—because it's time). A consultant I know told me that an established business client of his was going to be thrilled about the service offered by one of the companies he had seen pitch. So the entrepreneurial networking was happening between paninis and beer.
As this article is published in a startup news source, and I spend most of my waking hours at a startup, you might wonder why I even waste words on what I ate or the musician I saw. It's for the same reason that the organizers behind Paradoxos put on the event: for a city to be a leading national startup hub, it has to have more than a bunch of great startups. Durham does, and my experience at Major Bull was that Paradoxos successfully showed it.
Others seem to agree. I asked Adam Klein if the event turned out as he had hoped it would.
"It did, we definitely have a strong foundation on which to build. We had a lot of people coming up afterwards offering new ideas and volunteering to help next year. People wanting to participate again is a good sign we're on to something."