2,400 miles. Five cities. Two Honda Pilots. Seven days. And five children under the age of 7.
Because we love startups, and we heard that there is this huge country that’s south of New York and East of Silicon Valley, so we decided to explore. The pay-off has already been greater than you can imagine, as we met more entrepreneurs than my inbox can even handle and we saw communities come together in a really interesting way.
Atlanta saw a shocking 1,230 attendees, just barely surpassing our biggest meetup to date, NYC. That was thanks in large part to David Moeller of CodeGuarde who helped us coordinate. Durham showed us an excellent time, with beer and solar-powered bike/car hybrids at the lovely American Tobacco Campus, and Charlotte gave us a BBQ food coma before our meetup at Packard Place. We opened and closed the tour with Savannah, GA, and Greenville, SC respectively, seeing around 100 people at each enjoying great food and even better conversation.
Make no mistake: the South is hungry. We must have invited at least 20 companies to apply for Disrupt, and the best part is that the majority of these entrepreneurs are trying to solve really interesting and universal problems. Coming from New-York based startup reporting, I often get caught up in the startups that solve a New Yorker’s problem. But a New Yorker’s problem doesn’t apply to most of the country, so it’s always interesting to hear about tech that helps college students hang in there until graduation or organize the way we shop at the grocery store. Or even, the way we paint our athletic fields.
That’s what the South holds, and those sexy examples don’t even account for the tech companies born out of each city’s major strength. In Atlanta, the media and B2B stuff was actually exciting (and this coming from someone who basically abhors hearing that news). In Charlotte, obviously the banks play a huge roll in the talent in the area, while Raleigh-Durham had a huge focus on the life sciences and R&D.
Just take a look at these photos of all the wonderful people we met:
But even a trip as successful as this can’t be complete without a few rough bumps along the way. For example, we sat through a jam session by the one and only John Biggs. Here’s his rendition of “Call Me Maybe”:
Oh, the Atlanta meetup was basically rained out by a massive thunderstorm. We got soaked trying to grab a burger and fries at The Varsity post-beerup.
John and Matt both brought their kids, which was a good time. Milla wants to be like daddy:
And we saw a choir singing by a fountain strolling through Savannah on a Sunday morning:
Make no mistake: this wasn’t vacation. We’re exhausted and exhilarated. If the Southeast is any indication, we have a lot of work to do bringing you the best of the rest of the nation and we’re excited to get started. Where should we go next? Drop us a note in comments and we’ll see what we can do.
To all those who came out: thank you. To all those who couldn’t make it: email us. The rest? Expect us soon.