Frying Pan Tower – Don’t Let the Bed Sharks Bite

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in North Carolina, Raleigh

 Frying Pan Tower

The original depiction of Raleigh’s ties to NC Ports is from I stumbled across it a year or so ago, and it is one of the coolest marketing story telling efforts I’ve seen.  I leveraged (fancy word for stole) the concept and evolved the image to showcase the amazing Frying Pan Tower Bed & Breakfast. I have no affiliation or personal ties to either group aside from a love of North Carolina. Check out that original marketing campaign for the NC Ports at the above link.  See more about the Bed and Breakfast at I’m hopeful that the ‘leveraging’ of the graphic brings positive visibility to Raleigh, NC Ports, and to the Frying Pan tower.  For those that stumble here and don’t know – Raleigh is less than 2 hrs. from the coast of NC.  The 4 hrs. includes a drive to Southport, NC and a boat ride out.  Helicopter options may shorten the trip. I’m thinking that the software geek owner (compliment intended) should turn it into an innovation hub on the sea.  It is not quite what BlueSeed is doing on the West Coast:  BlueSeed is aiming to house 1000 entrepreneurs, is a bit more plush, and is targeting the foreign contingency that is unable to obtain a US Visa. Frying Pan max cap may be closer to 20?  Maybe a two week sponsored entrepreneurial intensive?  Free snorkel?

Raleigh vs Durham vs Triangle

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in NCSU, North Carolina, Raleigh, Tech

This @jproco thread got me thinking 
As sexy as a subset of Durham is, it seems fair to say that IF you look at these as two distinct systems, Durham as a whole is not as appealing as Raleigh. Polarizing statement, perhaps, but settle down blue friends.  Clearly Durham is doing something very right though - else this would be an easy discussion. Raleigh is the North Carolina State Capitol, and it’s simply not going to crumble overnight.  Raleigh will be just fine for some period of time.  But that is not a solution nor a strategy for the future, and being just fine doesn’t cut it. So you settle down for a second too, red friends.  It is that subtle complacency that is a potentially big problem for Raleigh.  Embracing uncertainty and change, and being courageous enough to evolve and thrive vs. settle, is much easier when there is necessity.  According to most, necessity is also the mother of invention.  Durham has risen in part because of necessity and is spawning invention thanks to a growing number of bulls.  You are simply more likely to get people to change when there is a burning platform.  And the price is right then too. Raleigh doesn’t seem to sense a burning platform.  I’m just fearful of a slow roast if we don’t smell the smoke.  I believe that Raleigh is going to have to incent fast microfailures vs. marinating for a long slow macroast.  That is hard to say on paper, and even harder to make reality. But Raleigh has access to roughly the same critical three T’s as Durham – Technology, Talent, & Tin Cup (capital), so there aren't going to be any excuses when we look back and try to figure out how Durham blew up. I'm good with growing an obtuse Triangle, its all commutable. But from a Raleigh lens - there are simply no excuses for letting it be anything less than equilateral. 
Meanwhile Durham is escaping what might have been perceived to be (that is me cushioning the message to avoid further polarization) a burning platform.  That burn appears to be helping Durham see the potential reward of small business bets and allowing them to have much less fear of the risks.  They are building critical mass, and please don’t let us underestimate critical mass for startups.   Startups are more likely to thrive together and much more likely to flail in isolation.  I’ve read blog posts and replies from James Avery for literally years now that should be the most compelling burning platform smoke detector for Raleigh.  To me he his cry for help from Raleigh should be listened to like a screaming toddler on the 4th floor of a burning building.  Fortunately there are a lot of brilliant folks pushing like crazy in Raleigh, but the sense of urgency from the masses has to happen sooner rather than later.  First to market would have been nice, but Raleigh may have missed that boat.  Perhaps we have survived thus far due to a massive talent pool.  But critical mass in other areas of the country will create a growing gravitational pull if we don’t offset it.  Not only will that be bad for the future of the region, but bad for the Universities themselves.  You see how this ecosystem works?
If you are paying close enough attention you will also have seen the ad-hoc alliances that have formed in Durham across the startups.  You could argue that it’s because they have such magical products right out of the gate that they can’t help but choose to use their cross town startup’s product.  Or you could step back and realize that they are using each other’s products in part because of a simple yet powerful sense of team.  Can there be any other region in the WORLD that grasps TEAM & what the color of your jersey can do for the psyche?  This region should be able to relate to that if nothing else.  It is a magical thing my hatred of *cough* Rhode Island blue.  These startups are eating each other’s dog food, being each others best customer's, and in turn helping make sure that they will all ultimately be delivering wine.  That collaboration simply doesn’t happen between two companies that don’t share some common sense of purpose, perhaps some common enemies. And it happens much more often when they can share a beer tab, or make a food truck visit for lunch with each other.  We need to make sure that we have a shared sense of common enemies as we stand together in the Triangle.
In an ideal world - we would do a flyover and see that this is really a single ecosystem, not two distinct, independent entities with a winner takes all outcome at stake. With the rate of change accelerating today, with enough backing from the big veteran companies of the region, and with enough smart people pushing the envelope – a Triangle All Star mentality is not completely idealistic. Somebody hug me.
Recommendation 1:
Build a diagram that shows alliances in the Triangle.  Connections indicate customers / partner relationships.  Direction of the arrows are open for discussion, but hopefully several will be synchronous.  This will help others to literally see the symbiotic results of creating a supportive, collaborative infrastructure in the region.   Build a single diagram for the Triangle and it will paint an informative picture. Concept:
  Recommendation 2:
Go watch basketball this summer at the NCPROAM in Durham if you’d like an indication of just how exciting the blending of the blues & reds can be.  It’s even open source.

Magic Formula of Gamification

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Data Analysis, Tech

“Place the proper triggers in the behavioral trajectory of motivated players, at the moment when they feel the greatest excess in their ability”

-Michael Wu

This deck by Michael Wu on Gamification is fantastic.  It’s a hype word – I know this. Clearly though, the concepts that he outlines here are far from just flash in the pan hype. Take a look:

Cisco General Counsel Role and the Innovation of Innovating

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Tech

Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Cisco. Mark talks head on about a question that I’ve always had…. Why do the (generalization coming) world’s slowest innovation adopters (attorneys) often get earmarked in corporations to be the ones to drive innovation and champion change.  Mark’s changes have been recognized by his industry peers for breaking that stereotype.  And kudo’s to Mark for using the B-Roll footage of my good friends Ken Patton and Steve Ricossa making hard work look easy.  

North Carolina Startups to Watch

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in NCSU, North Carolina, Raleigh, Tech

This is a work in progress… last update 5/28 I track several of these and their leaders via the Startup Watchlist – so you can follow along there too!

Company to Watch



Year Founded


3tailer Charlotte NC
6Fusion  Raleigh NC 2008
ACF Technologies, Inc.  Asheville NC 2003
Advanced Liquid Logic, Inc.  Morrisville NC 2004
Affinergy Inc. Durham NC
Amidon Contracting Solutions, Inc.  Youngsville NC 2006
Argand Energy Solutions  Charlotte NC 2007
Argyle Social  Durham NC 2009
Automated Insights, Inc.  Durham NC 2007
Bennett Aerospace, Inc. Cary NC
BioAgilytix Labs RTP NC
BioResource International. Inc. Morrisville NC
BlueStripe Software, Inc. RTP NC
Bronto Software Durham NC
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Inc.  Moravian Falls NC 1977
Chimerix, Inc. Durham NC
Clinipace Worldwide NC
Combat Medical Systems  Fayetteville NC 2008
Consolidated Asset Recovery Systems, Inc. NC
DataChambers, LLC NC
Digitalsmiths NC
Dorsett Technologies, Inc. Yadkinville NC
Dry Corp, LLC Wilmington NC
d-Wise Technologies  Raleigh NC 2003
Emergency Technologies, Inc. Raleigh NC
Entex Technologies Inc. NC
EvoApp  Durham NC 2009
Expression Analysis Durham NC
Figure Eight Technologies Greenville NC
FLS Energy Asheville NC
Geomagic NC NC
Hickory Nut Gap Farm NC
Ignite Social Media NC
Infina Connect Healthcare Systems, Inc.  Cary NC 2010
Inlet Technologies NC
Intelligent Access Systems  Garner NC 2004
Jackrabbit Technologies NC
K3 Enterprises, Inc. NC
Kyma Technologies, Inc. RTP NC
Liquidia Technologies, Inc. RTP NC
LoneRider Brewing Company NC
Mariner Container, LLC  Granite Falls NC 2002
MercuryGate International NC
Moog Music, Inc. NC
Mother Earth Brewing  Kinston NC 2008
Netsertive, Inc.  Research Triangle Park NC 2009
PharPoint Research, Inc.  Durham NC 2005
Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, LLC Greensboro NC
PocketGear, Inc. NC
Prometheus Group  Raleigh NC 1998
Relevance, Inc.  Durham NC 2003
Replay Photos, LLC NC
Riley Life Logistics NC
SciMetrika, LLC RTP NC
Semprius, Inc. NC
ShareFile NC
ShopBot Tools, Inc. NC
Skookum Digital Works Charlotte NC
Smarter Systems  Charlotte NC 2008
Southern Energy Management Morrisville NC
Southern Fasteners and Supply, Inc.  Winston-Salem NC 1982
Spoonflower Durham NC
The Mother Earth Group, Inc. Charlotte NC 1989
The Select Group NC
Themis Group, Inc. NC
TheraSim, Inc. NC
TransEnterix, Inc. NC
TransLoc, Inc. Raleigh NC
Tranzyme Pharma NC
Valencell, Inc.  Raleigh NC 2006
Varrow, Inc. Greensboro NC
XS, Inc.  Morrisville NC 1998
Zift Solutions, Inc.  Durham NC 2006
Romotive Las Vegas NV 2010

Bionic Man : First Bionic Hand that can Feel to be Transplanted This Year

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Science, Tech


Bionic Man? After successful tests with the external prototype, the world’s first bionic hand that can feel is to be transplanted this year. Unclear yet whether the 6 million dollars includes animated gif stop motion like effects with the nanananananananananahhh sound. New Zealand Herald Story

2011 Cisco Pioneer Award

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Tech

I have worked now for 11 years with people that are amazing and tireless troubleshooters, thinkers, innovators, strategists, creators, workaholics, and givers.  I’m humbled every day, and especially humbled to be recognized among so many brilliant people for the Pioneer award.  The collaboration that got us on the stage was the most gratifying part, and has established the foundation for what I told John would bring us back to drink wine together next year…
Vance Fitzgerald Pioneer Award

2011 Cisco Pioneer Award

Raleigh : Top 3 Most educated cities in America

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in North Carolina, Raleigh

Raleigh was noted to be the third most educated city in America by Men’s Health Magazine. Four of the nations Top 30 Cities are from North Carolina.
Most Educated Cities in America
1. Madison WI  A+
2. Plano TX  A+
3. Raleigh NC  A
4. Burlington VT  A
5. Seattle WA  A-
6. San Diego CA  A-
7. Honolulu HI  A-
8. Fargo ND  A-
9. Portland ME  A-
10. Lincoln NE  B+
11. Boise ID  B+
12. Columbia SC  B+
13. Colorado Springs CO  B+
14. St. Paul MN  B+
15. Minneapolis MN  B+
16. Lexington KY  B+
17. Pittsburgh PA  B
18. Virginia Beach VA  B
19. San Jose CA  B
20. San Francisco CA  B
21. Boston MA  B
22. Salt Lake City UT  B
23. Greensboro NC  B
24. Durham NC  B
25. Atlanta GA  B
26. Omaha NE  B-
27. Portland OR  B-
28. Charlotte NC  B-
29. Columbus OH  B-
30. Anchorage AK  B-
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