Startup Summit Helps Entrepreneurs Learn Valuable Skills

Cofounders Capital's David Gardner speaking at last year's Startup Grind, which has been rebranded as Startup Summit and will be held on Oct. 16 at NC State's Hunt Library.

Entrepreneurs can have a hard time taking time off from their company. After all, using time wisely is essential to the success of an early-stage company. That’s why next week’s Startup Summit promises to help entrepreneurs learn and apply practical skills and lessons during its full-day growth conference.

“Time is so precious in a startup,” said David Gardner, the general partner of Cary-based VC firm Cofounders Capital and a Startup Summit speaker. “But also you gotta take time to stop and sharpen the saw.”

The conference, which will take place at NC State University’s Hunt Library on Oct. 16, will feature more than 20 different speakers and “master classes” to help startup teams and innovators alike better strategize for their companies. Guests can learn anything from marketing tools and branding skills to funding tips and business intelligence. The conference also includes breakfast, lunch and a happy hour.

Mark Bavisotto, the founder of Startup Summit and regional director of Startup Grind, saw that there was a lack in local entrepreneurial conferences where innovators could actually learn practical skills that they could then apply to their business to help fuel further growth.

A special component of the conference is its “consulting corner” component, where entrepreneurs can talk with experts one-on-one to receive personalized coaching on various topics during breaks. Bavisotto said he added this element since he often saw investors and entrepreneurs talking to the same group of people at other conferences. With the consulting corners, entrepreneurs are encouraged to speak to new people and learn new skills.

“Networking is important,” he said, “but networking with a purpose is a lot better.”

Sharks Will Circle

Startup Summit also recently added a feature where it will have a live Shark Tank-like component near the end of the event. Three local companies will pitch to David Gardner, Mark Friedman of RTP Capital and Stephen Clossick of Triangle Angel Partners in an attempt to land investment.

The three companies who will pitch haven’t been decided yet, but Gardner said the sharks are structuring the competition to be more centered around IT and B2B, “to get a little drama going,” he said.

Gardner said he thinks the Shark Tank competition is a fun format because it takes what investors and venture capitalists do and encapsulates it into a small amount of time.

“It’s great exposure for people who aren’t familiar with that process and the kind of questions and terms that are negotiated,” he said. “It’s good to tack that on to the end of the conference as well. It should be entertaining and educational, which is the theme of what (Bavisotto) is trying to do.”

This is the second year that Startup Summit has taken place, and Bavisotto plans to make it an annual event. Although last year the event was branded as Startup Grind, Bavisotto decided to part ways this year with the organization to follow a different format and to add more of an educational aspect to the conference. Startup Summit wants to eventually offer educational video courses as well so people can access the lessons at any time.

Startup Summit will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 16, from 8 am to 7 pm at NC State University’s Hunt Library. Ticket prices range from $30 to $149. You can buy tickets here.

Note: GrepBeat is a media sponsor of Startup Summit. 

About Rebecca Ayers 6 Articles
Rebecca Ayers is a senior journalism major at UNC-Chapel Hill. She's an intern reporter for GrepBeat.