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durham inc.

5 STARTUPS THAT ARE ‘MAKING IT’ AND THE STORIES BEHIND THEIR SUCCESS

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BY B R A N D E E G R U E N E R | P H O T O G R A P H Y BY C O R N E L L WAT S O N

here’s no question: Durham has become a promising place to launch a startup. That’s in part thanks to American Underground, which has partnered with Google for Startups and earned a reputation as a startup hub of the South. Since 2016, American Underground and Google have also collaborated on the Black Founders Exchange, connecting Black-owned companies with the resources needed to grow. It’s also because the talent is here and growing. The DurhamChapel Hill metro area is rated No. 7 most educated in the country, churning out graduates from Duke University, N.C. Central University, UNC and N.C. State University. The area also draws in new tech talent due to a lower cost of living than San Francisco or Boston.

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But while a good idea and good ecosystem for entrepreneurs can get you a long way, venture capitalist Joe Colopy said that’s not enough. Two years ago, he launched media company GrepBeat to promote and support the Durham entrepreneurial community. (Colopy was a successful tech startup founder himself, selling Bronto Software to NetSuite for $200 million in 2015.) “Starting a company is extremely difficult in all environments, whether the economy is good or bad, and the entrepreneur’s persistence and ability and drive in times when things look really gloomy and no one is supporting you, is all-important,” Colopy said. “It’s a very lonely job, and there are a lot of people who think they’re up for the job, but very few actually are.” Here are a handful of Durham companies and their leaders who are up for the job, and what’s helped drive their success:

december/january 2021

ARCHIVESOCIAL Founded 2011 Employees 92 Top Clients New York City, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, State of North Carolina, Obama administration

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n the old days, public officials held meetings that were recorded by a stenographer for posterity. In modern times, your school superintendent or county commissioner might send you a tweet. How do governments keep track of it all and meet their obligations under public records laws? ArchiveSocial exists to respond to that need. “Anybody can engage with their public officials now in a way that historically they never

“I thought one of the things that would help this market is having media here to talk about the story of tech startups and promote them and help connect them,” said Joe Colopy, founder of GrepBeat. “I thought that would be something valuable to help this area, the tech community, and that there was a need.”