Vista Equity Partners And STATS Acquire Automated Insights

Automated Insights announced today that it has been acquired by Vista Equity Partners and STATS to fast-track the adoption of Ai’s natural language generation (NLG) technology across multiple industries including business intelligence, media, sports and beyond. Automated Insights will remain headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, where the company will be a subsidiary of Vista-owned STATS.

“Our entire team is excited to accelerate our growth alongside Vista and STATS,” said Ai CEO Robbie Allen. “Vista immediately understood the value proposition of and opportunities for our solution, and we believe they will be a great partner in helping our team take Ai to the next level. With Vista’s support and experience, we will continue our focus on product development and innovation as well as exploring new frontiers of artificial intelligence. For Automated Insights, this acquisition opens up incredible possibilities.”

Read the full press release from Automated Insights



Opportunity vs. Necessity in Tech Entrepreneurship: A Counterpoint | !ExitEvent

IDEA Fund Partners Managing Partner John Cambier weighs in with a counterpart on a report and data linking unemployment to entrepreneurial activity. “On the topic of business formation, Kauffman’s Entrepreneurial Activity Index expects to see an increase in company formation during a weak economy and a decrease in company formation during a stronger one. When it comes to tech companies, however, I have seen the exact opposite over the last 20 years.”

Read the full post on ExitEvent.

What Durham’s IDEA Fund Partners Looks for Before Doling Out Cash

Triangle Business Journal staff writer Lauren Ohnesorge talks with IDEA Fund Partners’ Lister Delgado on the decision process the firm uses in determining which startups it wants to invest. “There are too many good ideas out there to alone get the excitement of investors,” says Delgado. “I think traction and momentum are more important than the ideas themselves. And, of course, the people. And by the people, I mean the enthusiasm, the drive to make it happen, little things like the people they surround themselves with.”

Read the full article from Triangle Business Journal.

The Curse of the Rocket Ship

Blog post by John Cambier, Managing Partner

Many of us who make venture investments in tech companies located in the Southeast have, over the years, heard questions from our friends on the West Coast as to whether sufficient entrepreneurial and managerial talent is present here to staff a successful startup with the team it needs to scale.  This is a legitimate question.

I will concede that the breadth and depth of human capital present in Silicon Valley is second-to-none for building (most types of) venture-backed companies. However, as someone who has active portfolio companies on both coasts and has seen, first-hand, the challenges of building a great team in both geographies, I will suggest that the culture of the Valley creates an environment where the price of this talent perhaps outweighs the benefits of abundance.

The problem is quite simply this; in the Valley, everyone wants to be an astronaut.  What do I mean by that? I mean that the default position for 90% of the people I’ve met in the tech ecosystem out there – from the receptionists to the CEOs – is that they’re looking for a rocket ship to ride; ALL THE TIME.  The positive aspect of this is that you have a large number of driven, ambitious people clustered in a (relatively) tight geography.  The downside is that the second someone does not think your particular company is a rocket ship, they bolt for (what they believe is) the current or next one.

So, as a CEO of a company in the Valley, you’re not only constantly having to convince prospective employees that your company is THE current (or next) rocket ship, but you’re also having to convince your existing employees that the company still THE rocket ship.   All of this results in a much higher rate of employee turnover and lower productivity as new people are constantly having to be recruited and trained.  This all has a real cost.

In the Southeast, on the other hand, the default position for most of the people I’ve met in the tech ecosystem is that the company they’re currently with is their company of choice.   I would describe it as a stronger sense of team and tribe where, unless the company is clearly struggling or someone’s boss is an insufferable jerk, a person is generally not actively looking for a job if they’re currently employed.  This, I think, has a huge and underappreciated value.

So, not only does the lower cost of living in this part of the country make for a lower compensation expense as compared to the Valley, but the much lower rate of employee turnover also has very tangible benefits on the productivity of the senior managers and, ultimately, their ability to scale the company.  Hiring the right team is critical to building a scalable and successful venture.  I would prefer that my managers and their reports spend their time on filling new positions as opposed to backfilling existing ones.

Why Your Startup Will Thank You for Going to IDEA Pitch

Ann Johnston, startup founder and writer for ExitEvent, attended our October 16th IDEA Pitch event in the American Underground in downtown Durham, NC. These events, held evert other month, bring together area entrepreneurs and allow them to pitch in front of the IDEA Fund Partners team, who provide company feedback  and pitch-specific advice. As to who should attend, Johnson says, “If you’re currently fundraising, IDEA Pitch is a no-brainer, as it offers easy access to investors who are there to hear about your company. If you’re not yet fundraising but are headed in that direction, these sessions are a great way to make sure your pitch and company are on the right track.”

Read the full article on ExitEvent.

Where, Oh Where Can Your Startup Get Cash?

The Orlando Business Journal talks with Richard Fox, Venture Partner at IDEA Fund Partners, to discuss why local Orlando companies have such a hard time getting seed funding. Fox used data from online deal platform to illustrate his point. In 2012 there were 1,250 entrepreneurial companies in Orlando, Melbourne and Daytona beach on the platform. Of those 1,250, only 30 received an investment (28 by angel investors and 2 by venture capitalists).

Read the full from the Orlando Business Journal.

NC IDEA Opens Fall 2013 Grant Cycle with Info Sessions; New Video Element Added to Application

NC IDEA announced today the opening of its Fall 2013 grant cycle. The grant cycle, the organization’s sixteenth, will open on August 12, 2013. NC IDEA is hosting several information sessions for prospective applicants to discuss the grant process and eligibility criteria. The grants, which are up to $50,000 per recipient, support business plan research and development, reduce risk of early failure and advance projects to the point of suitability for angel or venture capital investment. New for this cycle, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to submit a two-minute video along with their grant application.

Read the full press release from NC IDEA

NC IDEA Awards $220,000 in Grants Bringing Total Funding Mark to Over $2.9 Million

NC IDEA announced today that had awarded $220K in grants to five North Carolina startups. The winners of NC IDEA 15th cycle of the program – BaseTrace, INRFOOD, MyLearningID, NeuroSpire and Novocor Medical Systems – were selected from over 159 applications. Since its inception in 2006, NC IDEA’s grant program has awarded $2.9M to 77 companies across the state.

Read the full press release from NC IDEA.

American Underground is Expanding to New Space in Durham

The American Underground at the American Tobacco Historic District, where we have our office, is fully leased and has a waiting list for new tenants. As a results, American Underground operator Capitol Broadcasting Company has announced it will expand in Downtown Durham. The 22,000 square foot space will be known at Underground @Main Street and serve as a hub for new and emerging technology businesses in Durham.

Read the full article on WRAL Tech Wire.