Rediscovering Durham's Startup Scene 10 Years Later - 1

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Rediscovering Durham's Startup Scene 10 Years Later - 1
The most difficult thing about hosting a great event is that you have to up the ante and keep it fresh every time out. I've made no bones about Tech Jobs Under the Big Top being my favorite local startup event, and it continues to raise the bar in both value and straight-up fun.

And you have to have fun. Otherwise you might just as well go work at IBM.

I've attended every single Big Top since the first, when people still thought it was somewhat crazy to have companies pitch themselves to prospective job seekers in a circus-type atmosphere. And when I say "circus," I mean jugglers-clowns-acrobats-hotdog-peanuts-everything-but-elephants circus, not stand-in-line-for-an-hour-to-have-some-HR-rep-shuffle-me-into-the-ERP-system circus.

An important distinction.

I'll be there April 9th for the spring 2014 version of Big Top, repping Automated Insights as we pitch our open positions. We'll be one of about a dozen startups who will take the stage to promote ourselves to the talent of the Triangle, hoping one or more of you will join our team.

And for the record, I'm not and never have been an HR rep. If you talk to me about joining my team, you'll be talking to me about joining my team, as in we'll work together.

I could reiterate the unique and clever ways Big Top turns a soul-sucking job search into a spirit-lifting celebration of the unsung talent here in the Triangle. I could tell you that it's outdoors this year in downtown Durham, under a real tent which will hold over 450 participants, and it's the kick-off event of the three-day-long Paradoxos, itself a celebration of Triangle startup and culture. I could tell you that every Big Top has sold out.

But when I talk about how Tech Jobs Under the Big Top continually improves upon itself, the tack I'm going to go take is a little out of left field.

Tech Jobs Under the Big Top Kicks Off Paradoxos 2014 - 2
Or rather, right field.

You're looking at the view from the Automated Insights offices -- we'll be moving in at the end of April. Not only is this a shameless plug to get you to work for us (Ruby developers and data scientists, seriously, hit me up at, but it makes two important points about the improving quality of Big Top.

1) Working at a Triangle startup is no longer a garage-shop proposition

The Triangle startup community has come a long way since that first Big Top. We've got incredible career offerings with solid, financially stable companies with bright prospects for big futures. Sure, we still talk about long hours and hard work, but now we're able to throw in fully-paid health plans, free lunches, and awesome views.

And it isn't just Automated Insights (seriously though,, let's talk), Bronto, for one example, has a careers page that's busting at the seams as they grow past 150 people.

2) We're getting pretty competitive about landing the best talent

While still not at Silicon Valley levels of temptation, startups in the Triangle are starting to become very competitive, not only in what they offer their employees, but with each other.

Sure, my shameless hints at getting you to come work at Ai are sprinkled throughout this article for selfish reasons (and for a bit of humor), but also because this is an opportunity for a competitive advantage to get to you before Bronto (or Validic or Royalty Exchange or Sageworks) does.

We're very serious about hiring top programmers, top marketing people, top business minds. So much so that we're willing get up on stage, in front of hundreds of people, and try to (graciously) one-up each other to get you to come work for us instead of them.

It's a good time to be in startup here.

So what looked like a lark some years ago when Heivly pitched a job circus, now seems right in line with the culture, the attitude, and the very vibe of working at a startup in the Triangle.

The event has gotten better, the value proposition has gotten better, and best of all, the product has gotten better.

Even if you have a job that maybe you're not totally thrilled with, you should come out and see this. You won't be sorry.