So 2021 was the year that things were supposed to get back to normal. That didn’t quite happen, it turned out, as all of us who weren’t classics majors have learned far more about the Greek alphabet than we ever wanted—what with one Covid variant after another gumming up the works.
One sign that in some ways 2021 was a re-run of 2020 could be that, technically, the most-read story on GrepBeat in 2021 was actually from 2020—even though it somehow only ranked No. 20 for that year. On July 2, 2020, we published a story on YaHeard, an “arguing app” that encourages people to debate one-on-one for the entertainment of others.
YaHeard was given a boost this June when the rapper (well, former rapper) Master P featured YaHeard in his “Master P Reviews” YouTube series on products from small businesses. We think that also helped spike traffic to the GrepBeat story.
In fact, five of the seven most-read stories of 2021 were published in previous years, a testament to GrepBeat’s long tail. We’ll name them at the bottom, but this list will focus on the most-read GrepBeat stories among those published in 2021.
1. Vote For The Inaugural Greppy Awards! Here’s All The Info You’ll Need (April 13)—Here at GrepBeat, we believe that the very fabric of our nation depends on a well-informed electorate. So we’re especially pleased that the most-read story of the year was one that provided capsules on all of the nominees of the inaugural Greppy Awards. Our readers wanted to make sure they made an informed choice. And for that, we salute you.
2. Durham’s Tiny Earth Toys Is Saving The Environment One Toy At A Time (Jan. 7)—We started 2021 off right with this story about Founder Rachael Classi, a former exec at GrepBeat neighbor Teamworks, and her subscription service that sends parents age-appropriate, quality wooden toys for the young ones. Once the kids move on to a shinier object, you send the toy back in exchange for a new option, while the toy is cleaned up and sent to a new family—saving your home from clutter and landfills from unwanted plastic toys.
3. Tar Heels Launch UNC’s First Student-Led VC Fund, Lux Libertas Ventures (April 22)—Forget Ancient Greek: this student-led VC gives a shoutout to another great (if dead) language. Why, even its initials are a Roman numeral! (Editorial note: not really. While any Roman could tell you that LLV is 105, it’s correctly expressed as “CV.” But Pete couldn’t avoid a cheap, I-took-Latin-in-high-school-and-want-everyone-to-know-it joke.)
4. Plantd Makes Homebuilding Materials Out Of Carbon-Capturing Hemp (Oct. 14)—It turns out that not only is hemp three times stronger than wood and captures three times as much carbon as trees while growing, but it attracts more than three times as many readers as the average story. Yay, hemp!
5. Equity Shift Aims To Unlock Secondary Trading of Private Equity (Feb. 23)—Not many early-stage founders that we talk to actually drop the “U” word—as in “unicorn.” But Equity Shift’s founders are among those who publicly put that BHAG into the ether. We say: good luck, and we’ll be rooting for you!
6. Couplet Care Addresses Health Equity By Designing Bassinet For New Mothers (April 15)—While No. 1 Tiny Earth Toys’ market is parents of toddlers, Couplet Care targets an even earlier segment of the human timeline—really, really early. It turns out that the bassinets used in hospitals to help mothers tend to their newborns are ill-suited to the task, a problem that this startup seeks to fix.
7. Here Are All The Winners Of The Inaugural Greppy Awards (April 23)—This would be a great opportunity to revisit the winners of the inaugural Greppy Awards. They’ll be back in 2022, though likely be in a somewhat different form. (As part of a Grep-a-palooza event, perhaps? Stay tuned!)
8. GrepBeat’s Startups to Watch 2021: Introducing The First Class Of Honorees (Sept. 27)—Of course, the Greppys weren’t the only new award-ish event we held this year. It wasn’t a great year for in-person events for obvious reasons, but the invite-only, founder-heavy crowd we hosted on a beautiful early fall evening on the roof of The Pit in downtown Durham was my personal favorite. Click the link to see the honorees.
9. Raleigh’s BOA Nutrition Makes Refueling A Blast For Endurance Athletes (Aug. 19)—This story included what was for our money the most dramatic main image in 2021. Perhaps that helped it crack the top 10?
10. The Download: David Jones, General Partner, Bull City Venture Partners (March 23)—Not that it’s a competition—except for the fact that everything is a competition—but David’s Download outpaced those of IDEA Fund’s Lister Delgado and Cofounders Capital Venture Partner Alex Osadzinski. We trust that will make it into the pitch deck when BCVP raises its next fund.
11. Need a Therapist? Look No Further Than Raleigh’s Counsel Connect (May 6)
12. Matchwell Has Created An Alternative To Healthcare Staffing Agencies NC State (Feb. 9)
13. Student-Professor Duo Create Platform To Teach Computer Science (July 29)
14. Sageworks Founder Stars In ABC Show Helping Ex-Inmates Launch Businesses (April 1)
15. SynchronoSure Uses AI To Help Small Businesses Obtain Insurance Faster (March 2)
16. North Carolina Startups Can Access Global Tech Talent With SourceStack (Jan. 12)
17. The Download: Patrick Dunnigan, Partner, River Cities Capital Funds (Oct. 18)
18. Raleigh’s Rella Helps Influencers Monetize Their Social Media Clout (Aug. 5)
19. Green Places Makes It Easy For Small Businesses To Go Carbon-Neutral (July 15)
20. 2021 Predictions From Triangle Tech Luminaries (Jan. 5)
And here are the stories published in prior years that finished among the most-read stories in 2021. We’re listing them in the place they finished overall, including stories published this year:
1. YaHeard It Right: This App Wants You to Debate With Strangers (July 2, 2020)—See above.
2. Cary-based CEO Swam With Sharks and Lived to Tell Tale of Deal (Oct. 30, 2018)—Though this story didn’t crack the top 20 in the year it was published, the wonders of SEO and Shark Tank repeats made it the second-most read story of 2019, the most-read story of 2020 (by a lot) and now No. 2 again—and overall, the most-read story in GrepBeat history..
3. The Manager Who Discovered Elton John Now Runs Raleigh-Based Startup (May 30, 2019)—The tie-in to the movie Rocketman helped zoom this story to the No. 1 slot in 2019, No. 2 in 2020 and now No. 3 in 2021. It’s No. 2 alltime, followed by YaHeard at No. 3,
6. Meet… Todd Buelow, Principal, Dualboot Partners (July 30, 2020)—Dualboot is one of our most loyal sponsors, so we’re glad to see Todd continue to get so much love from our readers. It was the most-read GrepBeat story in 2020 among those published that year.
8. Alcove’s Platform Addresses Affordable Housing Crisis With Cheap Rooms For Rent (Jan. 28, 2020)—This story clocked in at No. 18 last year but zipped up this year, likely due in part to being one of our Startups To Watch honorees.
For posterity’s sake, here are the most-read lists from 2020, 2019 and 2018.