Next unicorns? Exclusive series to spotlight Raleigh’s $1B startup pipeline

Tomorrow's unicorns: Exclusive series to spotlight Raleigh's $1B startup pipeline


RALEIGH – Big tech firms like Apple and Google may be moving into town. But it’s the city’s homegrown talent, many argue, that will solidify Raleigh’s reputation as a tech hub. And WRAL TechWire is going to tell these stories.

In the last two years alone, Raleigh has churned out three new “unicorns,” companies valued at more than $1 billion, including insightsoftware, Pendo, and Prometheus Group.

That’s more than the decade prior combined. Plus, many more are in the pipeline.

In a new multimedia series and in conjunction with Innovate Raleigh, WRAL TechWire is set to spotlight some of those companies tipped to become tomorrow’s “homegrown” unicorns.

“Having a vibrant innovation ecosystem of high-potential, high-growth companies is integral to our economic development strategy,” Michael Haley, Wake County Economic Development’s executive director, told WRAL TechWire.

“Companies want to come to this area because of the strong ecosystem that already exists here. They want to benefit from the energy of innovation that is present.”

Michael Haley, executive director of Wake County Economic Development and senior vice president at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

The six-part series will launch on Wednesday, September 15. Each week, it will feature a Raleigh-born, “Goldilocks” company — not too small, not too large — that is on track to becoming a $1-billion company. These are the region’s “future breakouts, big fundraisers, acquisition targets and (fingers crossed) IPOs.”

“If the Triangle startup ecosystem was a typical funnel metaphor, the top of our funnel is getting very, very full,” said veteran entrepreneur Scot Wingo, who puts out his own official “Tweeners List” every year of startups that have at least $1 million per year in sales or 10 people.

“When I started, there were 50 companies. Now there are 250. Those are ‘unicorn seeds’ that hopefully will bear fruit in the not-too-distant future.”

WRAL TechWire selected the companies for the series based on a range of factors: annual revenue, recent fundraises, momentum and “general buzz on the street.” Many, though not all, have appeared or graduated from the Tweeners’ list. Some of the startups took 10 years to get to this inflection point; others are barely a few years old.

The series’ lineup represents a snapshot of the different people and emerging technologies at play in Raleigh’s ecosystem.

It will include a mother of four, a first-generation Greek immigrant, a native Raleighite, an African American from eastern North Carolina, an NC State grad, and a Canadian.

It will also cover a cross-section of emerging technologies: artificial intelligence, blockchain, edge computing, Internet of Things, and more. It will include a digital story, Q&A, two-minute video and LinkedIn Live chat.

The series is produced with funding support from Innovate Raleigh and other partners.

The non-profit also supports the News & Observer Fellowship. Both initiatives are aimed at supporting local journalism and coverage of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in the Triangle.

WRAL TechWire has retained full editorial control of all content.

“Great journalism is a powerful resource for entrepreneurs and innovators to connect to their community’s talent and support,” said Bridget Harrington, Innovate Raleigh’s former executive director, who spearheaded both programs. “Collectively, the stories we tell are vital in shaping our community’s future.”

The series will run in the lead up to the Innovate Raleigh Summit, which is scheduled for Oct. 25-29.

 





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Kassie Hoffman
Kassie pens down all the news from the world of politics on ANH.