Next Gen Raleigh: A Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting Up


Next Gen Raleigh: A Young Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting Up

Written and Curated by Sunny Su & Sierra Thomas of Paradigm Innovation

This guide serves three unique functions:

  • As a landscape overview of the resources and what's available for young entrepreneurs in Raleigh-Durham with Paradigm's recommended and preferred ecosystem partners in bold.

  • As a reference to guide conversations to support founders and connect Next Gen members to resources, email or and he or his team can answer questions, recommend, or personally connect you with any of the resources listed below.

  • Led by its Chief Innovation Officer, Sunny Su, Paradigm Innovation is the Community Manager of Next Gen Raleigh-Durham, please reach out and he or his team can assist you with anything!

I.  Introductory Remarks

Why is Raleigh-Durham a good place to be a young entrepreneur? Every region has certain benefits, even if not what first meets the eye.

1.  Fast Company: Why You Should Start a Company in… Raleigh-Durham

Most cities are lucky to have one tech startup accelerator, like TechStars or Y Combinator. Raleigh-Durham has [five. You have Paradigm Innovation with its integrated and design-driven venture program and global ecosystem;] Joystick Labs focuses on the area’s burgeoning gaming community; Launchbox Digital is a standard franchised incubator; and Bull City Forward and Durham Coworking are local efforts.

It’s a lot of startup activity for an area that has long been known as Research Triangle Park (RTP), marked by Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill at each of its points, where tech giants have established major hubs, including IBM, Cisco, Nortel, Sony Ericsson, GlaxoSmithKline and…read more.

2.  Inc: Why Raleigh, North Carolina, Will Be the Next Startup Hub

UNC, Duke, and NC State, which make up the Research Triangle, are all in an hour radius providing top-level talent. Almost every big company has an office in Raleigh. This finalist for Amazon's HQ2 isn't a cute up-and-comer anymore, but the next logical city to become a destination -- just like Austin, Denver, and Portland have over the last decade.

Raleigh has the space, the expertise, the best train station (Raleigh Union Station) I have ever seen, and more available talent than any other city on Amazon's list. Plus, it's home to Brewery Bhavana, one of Bon Appetit's 10 Best New Restaurants in America. It's a flower shop and bookstore by day. Dim sum brewery by night. It's incredible…read more.

3.  Inc: Why Entrepreneurs Should Know About This Secret Startup Hub Down South

Second, I started to notice that Duke's surrounding area was a great technology hub. Like many people from the Northeast, I was totally oblivious to RTP (the Research Triangle Park area, or "Triangle," comprised of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). After graduating, I decided to stay in the area, and, like many of my classmates, I built my life and business here.

As is with many things in the South, people in the Triangle tend to be understated and modest. Therefore, while the area gets some attention for its technology companies, it doesn't have the national reputation that it deserves. The truth is that, along with Silicon Valley, this is the best area in the country to start a technology or information business. In fact, when you drill down into the details, it may be an even better place for entrepreneurs than Silicon Valley. There are several reasons for this…read more.

4.  Forbes: The 10 Best Cities for Young Entrepreneurs

No 4. Raleigh, North Carolina:

  • C&I Loans: $44M

  • Cost of Living Index: 90.9

  • Businesses per 100 Residents: 10.5…read more.

II.  LEARN: Figuring It Out

A navigation of resources that help young people learn about entrepreneurship, become inspired, and gain exposure to ideas, models, and projects. Student and University Organizations like pitch competitions, workshops, campus spaces, clubs, centers, and courses for the chapter members to ‘dip their toes’ into entrepreneurship and get a sense for the space.

Dorm Room Fund’s “Starting Up @ College Series”

The goal of this “How to Start a Startup at Duke” guide is to present these resources so they can be useful to you regardless of your current knowledge and experience. I’ll start by covering what is available for you in and around Duke to find your feet in the startup world by learning the basics and how to get involved. Next, I’ll cover resources for starting up your own startup, including opportunities for support and guidance every step of the way. And finally I’ll show you how you can best launch your very own startup at and after Duke, capitalizing on the great Duke network and Triangle area startup ecosystem…read more.

NC State University

Duke University

UNC Chapel Hill

Campbell University

Wake Tech

NC Central

Shaw University

III. Starting Up

A navigation of resources that help founders who have an idea or eagerness to take action turn their visions into reality. Competitions, pitch events, early funding, grant programs, early stage incubators, etc.

Venture Capital + Investment

  • Work in progress...coming soon!

  • Wolfpack Investors Network

  • Duke Angels Network

  • Triangle Investors Network

  • Co-founders Capital

  • First Flight Ventures: Hangar 6

  • One Better Ventures: CPG

  • The Pink Ceiling

Networking + Community + Co-working

  • RTP Frontier

  • Industrious

  • Parmer RTP

Startup + Entrepreneurial Accelerating

City Government



  • Innovation by Design Conference

  • Innovation Week

  • Hopscotch Design Festival

  • SparkCon

  • Make-a-thon

  • Cre8athon

  • LULU eGames

IV. Scaling + Growing

A navigation of resources that help founders with ongoing projects scale, grow, and thrive. Incubators, accelerators, funding to help startups reach the next level.

Biz Dev + Strategy, Design + Prototyping/Testing

  • Paradigm Innovation: global strategic innovation + concept design studio, especially for purpose-driven human-centered companies

    • Raleigh Garment District: Hannah Stabler, our technical partner for soft goods, textiles, apparel samples and production

    • BOS Digital: Jeff Robinson, business optimization specialists, marketing/sales/business development, especially trade shows

    • Griffin Kelton: marketing strategy and business development

    • Andrew Bass, product management and finance

  • product management and ux metrics tracking

  • Laut: Michael Laut, industrial design fabrication and models

  • Trig: Ty Hagler, product and marketing campaigns

  • Steadfast: Taylor, graphic design, especially for medical

  • Idealogic: mass produced products

Software Engineering + Development

  • Paradigm Innovation: app, web, software design, prototypes, demos

    • LaunchLab: Zach Milburn, web and software engineering for early ventures

    • DataBend: John Pandich, complex engineering, databases, algorithms, AI, ML, networks

    • Vandy: Kyle Van Dyn Hoven, two brothers that build great websites

  • Linker Logic: Ritwil Pavan, all-around engineering at multiple scales

  • Lithios: DeShawn Brown, web and mobile app development, mostly ios

  • Smashing Boxes: primarily mobile app and software engineering

Mechanical, Electrical, + Computer Engineering

Sourcing + Logistics, Production + Distribution

Small Business, Legal + Intellectual Property, Tax

  • Fourscore: Jesse Jones, startup & small business law

  • Fallone SV: John Fallone, startup & venture law

  • Padgett: Steve Scarano, tax law, accounting, admin

  • NEO IP: Jinan & Nick D'Andrea, IP strategy, law, and consulting

  • Sotomayor IP: John & Krissa Sotomayor, IP strategy and law

  • Magic Number IP: IP landscaping tool and consulting

Buildings + Real Estate Development, Cities + Spaces

  • Paradigm Innovation: urban design, commercial and office interior + building concept, wayfinding, brand, exhibits/booths/tradeshows, environments, pop-ups + storefronts

  • JDavis Architects: architecture firm

  • ZigZibit: exhibit fabrication, build, and production

  • DesignDimension: build and fabrication for exhibits/booths

Media, Video, Film, Animation, Content Production

  • Paradigm Innovation: creative direction + strategy, art direction, storytelling, storyboarding, marketing + content strategy, brand

  • Dash Studio: Mack Garrison, enterprise motion animation + sound

  • Drive80: Mike Doyle, explainer videos

Printing, Merchandise, + Professional Services

Alex Gordon