Startup Summit Returns With Full Day Of Programming For Triangle Entrepreneurs

Keith Washo (left) and Mark Bavisotto, the Co-Founders of Startup Summit.

If you’re an “entrepreneurship-minded person,” get ready, because this one’s for you. The second annual Startup Summit, which is also part of the newly founded Triangle Innovation Week, will be held next Thursday, Oct. 10, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at the RTP Conference Center. (Pro tip: scroll down for a 30 percent discount for GrepBeat readers.)

The event is full-day conference including keynote speakers, panels and breakout sessions to help startup founders and entrepreneurs learn and grow.

“It’s a beautiful one-day event with everyone you need to see and know to learn how to get your startup to the next level,” said Keith Washo, Co-Founder of The Startup Summit.

The idea behind the name is that the event gives a person practical tools to reach the summit of their success, Washo said.

The keynote speakers will start off with a video welcome message by Bob Young, founder of RedHat. Next, Jim Geikie, former CEO of Burt’s Bees and partner at Raleigh’s One Better Ventures, will give his address, followed later in the day by entrepreneurs like Mikki Paradis, Founder and CEO of PDI Drywall Inc., who will speak on being a woman in a male-dominated industry.

Throughout the day, there will also be breakout sessions, where attendees can choose which topic interests them the most and then listen to Q&A-style talks in different rooms focused on those areas.

The third big category at the Startup Summit will be panels consisting of four or five people, with a Q&A session afterward. One of the panels Washo is most excited for is about diversity in the workplace moderated by Donald Thompson, the CEO of Walk West.

Lastly, guests can also look forward to the networking happening throughout the event with consultants, investors and the speakers.

“It’s like getting an MBA in one day,” Washo said.

The summit has been three years in the making, and originally started as part of the national Startup Grind group. Mark Bavisotto and Washo then founded Startup Summit last year.

The duo plans to have quarterly Learning Network Nights and two conferences a year, with The Startup Summit being the main event. Their first conference this year, held in August, had over 100 attendees. Next week’s Startup Summit already has 175 people confirmed to attend.

Startup Summit also plans to open three new chapters this year—in Charlotte, plus Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y.

Bavisotto and Washo were both entrepreneurs themselves and started their own companies. They recognize the importance of an event where people learn from and meet people who are already successful. Helping people flourish is in their DNA, he said.

New parts of the conference include an investor corner, the breakout sessions and live music at happy hour. The investor corner will be comprised of major investors from the area at a table, rotating in and out the entire day, waiting to talk with entrepreneurs and guests.

One of the breakout sessions, titled “Learn Best Practices on Hiring Top Talent and Landing the Right Job,” will be led by Craig Stone, CEO of HireNetworks, and Will Barfield, CEO of Barfield Revenue Consulting.

Barfield has been in recruiting the past 15 years, focused on helping startups hire revenue-generating talents, such as marketing professionals.

Attendees can expect to learn about the current competitiveness of the market landscape in regards to talent, Barfield said. Given the low unemployment rates, the market is candidate-driven and it can be hard for new startups to find the right talent, he said.

The ticket prices range from $20 student tickets to $85 full-price tickets. (GrepBeat readers can use this link for a 30 percent discount.) The money generated will be put back into more events, and also into developing a web platform, Washo said.

Startup Summit is currently working on building an online space for entrepreneurs to come and learn—similar to an event, just online. There will be curated videos and information from conferences available.

Washo said he was glad their event could be a part of the Triangle Innovation Week. Since the events are all focused on growing the region, it makes sense to him to team up.

“It’s like brothers and sisters coming together,” he said. “We’re very thankful.”

About Laura Brummett 38 Articles
Laura covers tech and startup news for GrepBeat. She is a business journalism major at UNC-Chapel Hill, minoring in studio art and history. Reach her by email at or find her on Twitter @laura_brummett.