‘A Super Connector’: Second Raleigh-Durham Startup Week Returns April 18-20

Hilary Lerner—the Senior VP of People and Culture at Durham-based Teamworks—leading a session at last year's inaugural Raleigh-Durham Startup Week.

When Laura Maiurano moved to Raleigh 18 months ago to develop her marketing agency, she discovered comforting connections that were previously foreign to her. 

“Working with founders and startups can really feel isolating,” she said. “The thing that Raleigh brings to this startup region is a sense of community.”

To help others become better acquainted with the community, she decided to join Archie O’Connor and Chris Heivly in putting together the second annual Raleigh-Durham Tech Startup Week. O’Connor and Heivly are the co-founders of the event, which is also under the umbrella of Techstars, the global startup accelerator, investor and community builder. Heivly previously spent more than four years with Techstars as an ecosystem builder.

The free, walkable event is a three-day-long series running from April 18-20 (Tuesday through Thursday) featuring a variety of workshopping, networking, and socializing opportunities for members of the Triangle startup ecosystem. The first two days will take place in Durham and the third in Raleigh. 

There will be four macro tracks of programming—startups, tech in society, product development and design, and legal and finance. Each day will include at least 16 experiences from speakers, workshops, and sessions that fall under those major categories, with the programming kicking off at 1 p.m. each day

To navigate all these opportunities, attendees should download the event’s Whova app to plan their days. O’Connor suggests attendees read through session descriptions and make a plan for which speakers would be most valuable to the startup stage they’re currently in.

O’Connor said he considers the event a “super connector” because it provides valuable opportunities to anyone and everyone interested in absorbing information and advice for startup founders.

“It’s literally like getting a three day crash course,” O’Connor said about the expansive entrepreneurial knowledge that will spread over the week.

A sign from last year’s inaugural event

But Maiurano said Startup Week isn’t just about learning—it’s about socializing and getting to know community members and venues.

Not only will the event feature various educational sessions, but investors will also host office hours where early stage businesses can receive funding advice. 

And each day will end in a Happy Hour, the first of which will be hosted by GrepBeat on Tuesday, April 18, from 5-7 p.m. at Bull McCabe’s in downtown Durham. [You can register for the the GrepBeat Happy Hour here.]

“There will always be something to do,” O’Connor said.

Although the event is mainly startup and technology-oriented, O’Connor said Techstars hopes this event will be first of many community-uniting projects for the Triangle.

“We want to celebrate music, we want to celebrate the culture, we want to celebrate the fruit, we want to celebrate all of the various things that make this this culture unique—under the umbrella and under the brand,” he said.

O’Connor added that he and Heivly want to capture and curate events to match the growth and diversity coming into the Triangle. But what makes the Triangle so special to O’Connor is a sense of accessibility. 

He and Heivly came up with a rubric for RDSW after O’Connor casually reached out online and the two chatted about startups over coffee and empanadas. 

They’re hoping the density of the event triggers momentum and energy throughout the community and brings fresh perspectives into the startup space. 

O’Connor said his dream is to hear about a future group that births a startup because of a connection made from Raleigh-Durham Startup Week. 

You can find more information about RDSW’s on the event’s site.