Image from LifEKit Lifestyle Co.’s Instagram
This past Thursday and Friday (June 6 and 7) was the inaugural Paradoxos in Durham, NC. The two days was billed as “a series of events around Durham’s center….entrepreneurial pitches, collaborations between tech companies and local breweries, keynote addresses and talks by industry leaders…jam-packed with inspiration, ideas and fun.”
In the weeks leading up to the event, I asked a couple of my acquiantances if they were going. Most everyone’s response was something like, “well I read the description, but what is it really?” With keynotes and talks by industry leaders such as John BIggs of Techcrunch.com, Dr. Brian Hare (dog scientist), a pitch event for startups, venture capitalists and angel investors from all over, plus after hours activities that included music and beer centered around Major Bull’s statue, I thought Paradoxos sounded like it might be a spin off TED or South By Southwest, North Carolina style. And super fun.
Thursday morning June 6 was Triangle Startup Factory’s Pitch Day. When I arrived at The Carolina Theater, folk band Lowland Hum was on stage. Their brand of music is not my usual taste but their performance was great. Loved their songwriting.
I was moving in and around the theater so I missed the keynote by David Baldwin of Baldwin&. I did have the opportunity to hear Paul Singh’s keynote. He is the founder of Dashboard.io and entrepreneur in residence in the White House Office of Science and Technology and Department of Homeland Security. Paul Singh talked about how startup culture has changed from when he started his first business (it’s MUCH cheaper now). He also gave great insight on startups from an investor’s point of view, talked about “being lean and going fat” (i.e. scaling up) and global perspective on startups in Europe and South America. I didn’t take notes during his talk but one item did stick in my mind: startups are Darwinian and always will be. I took that to mean that only the fittest survived. Also, that traction is everything when growing a business.
TSF’s Pitch Day then started. The five businesses were from TSF’s Spring 2013 program. Tuee is a real time customer feedback software for restaurants. Bring Me That is a website that allows customers to order food from over 1500 restaurants and have it delivered wherever you are. Vacation Futures is a wholesale rental program (out of all the pitches, this one went over my head the most. It’s probably because I was tweeting during their pitch). Taggs’ is a software that collects images from social media. Tabsprint is a mobile payment app for bars and clubs.
From a consumer viewpoint, the pitch that interested me the most was Bring Me That’s. I don’t eat out often. For when I do and still want to stay home, it’d be nice to have a one stop shop website that’ll allow me to order from thousands of restaurants without having to visit each site individually and browse their menus. Currently, Bring Me That is only available in Ohio, but hopefully it’ll come to NC soon.
Later in the evening was the Major Bull block party in the CCB Plaza and then Major Bull after party at Bull McCabes. I missed both of them. Since J. Cole is the first hip hop artist to use startup technology and change how fans engage weeks ahead of a retail album release, I decided to attend his Born Sinner album listening session in Fayetteville, NC instead.
Friday June 7 was #TheNext. It was basically a TED-style event where top experts in the fields of public health, fine art, apiculture (the science of bees), technology, internet marketing and more gave short talks. Each presentation was approximately five minutes, which I loved. They were long enough to give a good overview of the subject matter while being brief enough to keep you from getting bored and suffer from short attention span syndrome.
My favorite #TheNext talk was by Dr. Brian Hare. He is a scientist who researches dog cognition (i.e. dognition). His company Canine, Inc. has developed a software program that helps you “find the genius in your dog.” There are nine personality profiles and you give your dog a series of tests to see where they fit. We have a chow chow who is a part of the family and have always believed that she is a very smart dog. We’ve already decided to try out Dr. Hare’s tests to see what type of personality she has and give us more insight on her behavior.
The most eye opening #TheNext talk came from Dr. Nancy Creamer, who works at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at North Carolina State University. Her presentation centered around sustainable agriculture, food deserts and the availability of high quality food to all, regardless of socieconomic status. Sidebar: Friday June 7 was also National Donut Day.
Overall, Paradoxos was a very cool two days. Downtown Durham and The Carolina Theater was a great venue. The Paradoxos team did a fantastic job of organizing the event. I found out about topics I’d never heard of before (dognition) and learned about several current and future technologies (including one dubbed “brain machine interfaces”). There was also the opportunity to network with individuals that I may not meet through other business channels.
I did attend Friday night’s NIGHTCAP event at Fullsteam, so it was cool to have a chance to connect with folks outside of the hectic conference environment. I was also excited that Durham, NC’s LifEKit Lifestyle Company designed the official Paradoxos 2013 T shirt. In support of the fellas, I had to cop one. As of Wednesday of last week, LifEKit also now has office space in the American Underground, and I’m very proud to see their company grow beyond the hip hop community. I’m looking forward to Paradoxos 2014 and am interested to see how the event will grow in the coming years.
My favorite speaker Tweet from Paradoxos 2013: