The RTP Tech Scene Gets A Shot of Caffeine

by David D. Menzies

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- At this morning's 1 Million Cups RTP, Juan Porras had just finished his presentation about Factivate -- a new cloud-based business intelligence tool looking to bring spreadsheets into the 21st century -- and gotten through some general audience Q&A. During a pause, a few of the 40 or so attendees began making efforts to pack up and leave, as one of the sessions moderators asked if there were any more questions. If this was the older, circa-2015 version of 1 Million Cups (1MC), that might have been the end of the session. But not the 2016 iteration of this steadily improving weekly shot-in-the-arm to the Triangle's tech scene.

Those who'd begun preparing to leave settled back into their seats for some quality discussion as the questions kept coming for Porras, some of them helpful insights from professionals who'd been there, done that. Other questions were somewhat challenging; not to the point of making anyone overly uncomfortable, but challenging nonetheless, forcing Porras to dig deep beyond any elevator speech to provide answers.

This type of meaty interaction is becoming a trademark of this entrepreneur-friendly event, now headquartered at The Bridge at The Frontier (800 Park Offices Drive, Morrisville). The new and improved 1MC is a welcome addition to other regular get-togethers at other entrepreneur-friendly locales like HQ Raleigh, the American Underground and First Flight Venture Center.

Although technology startups are the focus, they are still diverse. Factivate, which Porras said is trying to redefine business intelligence, is geared toward the average, everyday business person as well as VP's of marketing for large corporations trying to track social media, website hits and other analytics.

Two weeks prior, the presenter was Kyle Linton of Nicotrax, a startup launched in August 2015 trying to help 24-45 year olds to quit smoking. This nifty system incorporates an electronically enhanced cigarette case and software to track addiction at its physical, mental and social roots, connecting users with professional support necessary to quit such as physicians and counselors.

The audience at 1MC is pretty diverse, with young techies mixing with older suits. At the two aforementioned events there were a few familiar faces, but definitely different people at each event. Plenty of networking took place at both events, before and after presentations. Supported by The Kauffman Foundation, 1MC is run by over 300 volunteers across the country and is free and open to the public.

The next 1MC RTP is March 2, featuring KOIOS, a browser extension searching library catalogs across the web, even finding materials invisible to search engines. For more information visit www.1millioncups.com/rtp.