American Underground

American Underground — Startup Capital of the South — Receives NC IDEA Support for ‘Retail Stampede’

American Underground — Startup Capital of the South — Receives NC IDEA Support for ‘Retail Stampede’

Program Reinvents the Stampede Concept that Helped Launch NC’s Seminal Startup Hub, Expands Ecosystem’s Scope

(Durham, NC) – Sept. 8, 2016 – The American Underground will use a $100,000 Ecosystem Partner grant from NC IDEA to launch a ‘Retail Stampede’ designed to identify and support startups focused on developing products for consumers. Entrepreneurs whose businesses fit the description below can learn more here: startupstampede.com.  

Expanding the Triangle’s Startup Success Story

To date, support for startups in the Triangle community — and even across the state — has largely zeroed in on software and life science companies. But there is a growing number of consumer product companies which, despite minimal infrastructure to support them, are achieving success (e.g., Mati Energy, Nugget Comfort, SlingShot Coffee, Burt’s Bees, Raleigh Denim, Runaway Apparel).

The objective of the Retail Stampede is to move these startups from interesting side projects to scalable businesses and attract national attention for our growing startup community.

The ‘Stampede’ Returns

The Durham Chamber of Commerce launched the original ‘Startup Stampede’ from 2010-2012. It attracted international attention to the Bull City’s creativity, talent pool, university connections, quality of life and readiness to transition to a 21st century economy.

“Reviving the ‘Stampede’ brand reaffirms that our entrepreneurial community is strong and growing, that our history matters and that we remain open to new ideas and opportunities,” says Adam Klein, chief strategist at The American Underground. “Just as the original ‘Stampede’ was a clarion call to one wave of entrepreneurs, so the ‘Retail Stampede’ will bring galvanize another.”

Klein added, “The NC IDEA ecosystem grant moved this idea off the sideline and into production. Without their support and programming expertise, we wouldn’t be able to serve this growing and talented group of entrepreneurs in such a robust way. We have big dreams for this program.”

Said Durham Chamber CEO Geoff Durham, ““The Durham Chamber is excited to be a part of this unique opportunity to celebrate and foster the next wave of Durham’s home-grown businesses. The Chamber is always on the lookout for the next big thing and we believe the Retail Stampede will set the stage and prime Durham’s consumer product market for other exciting ventures.”

How The Retail Stampede Works

The Retail Stampede is a two-month competitive incubation program open to any North Carolina-based consumer product company which has completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and/or has won an NC IDEA grant:

  • The program focus is on the creation of an online storefront for each consumer product company, with support and expertise in eCommerce strategy, order fulfillment and logistics, and branding/marketing.
  • At the end of the program, an entrepreneur will launch an online storefront to help scale sales throughout and beyond North Carolina. This approach reflects the thinking of American Underground leadership that consumer product companies in the 21st century will scale best by beginning with an online storefront, rather than a brick-and-mortar location. The cost of customer acquisition is lower and an online-first approach taps into our region’s great strengths in software and eCommerce.
  • The Retail Stampede will focus on companies that have some measure of market validation (e.g., a successful Kickstarter campaign). This indicates that customers are willing to pay something for this product and the entrepreneur knows how to tell his/her story–which ensures the two-month incubation program can be spent helping companies begin the scaling process, rather than figuring out product-market fit. It also ensures that the efforts of the Retail Stampede program will be geared toward companies at roughly the same stage and targeted with the unique resources they need to cross the gap from ‘some traction’ to scalability.

Organizers expect the application process to open in early October. Meantime, interested entrepreneurs can learn more and apply here: startupstampede.com.  

About the American Underground

The American Underground, a Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub, is where smart startups grow and thrive. Deemed “the startup capital of the south” by CNBC, the American Underground is home to more than 250 entrepreneurial organizations. The American Underground is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC). American Underground visitors include TechCrunch, TIME Magazine, The Atlantic, the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, G.E’s Jeff Immelt, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Steve Case.

 

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BACKGROUND

Proposed Program/Project

It is time for our region to support a broader range of startups. To date, support for startups in the Triangle community–and even across the state–has largely centered on software and life science companies. But there is a growing number of consumer product companies which, despite minimal infrastructure to support them, are achieving success (e.g., Mati Energy, Nugget Comfort, SlingShot Coffee, Burt’s Bees, Raleigh Denim, Runaway Apparel). It is consumer product companies like these that the American Underground ‘Retail Stampede’[1] program targets. Our goal is to move these startups from interesting side projects to scalable businesses and attract national attention for our growing startup community.

The Stampede is a two-month competitive incubation program for six to eight startups that have successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign.[2] The program focus is on the creation of an online storefront for each consumer product company, with support and expertise in eCommerce strategy, order fulfillment and logistics, and branding/marketing. At the end of the program, an entrepreneur will launch an online storefront to help scale sales throughout and beyond North Carolina. We are taking this approach because we believe consumer product companies in the 21st century will scale best by beginning with an online storefront, rather than a brick-and-mortar location. The cost of customer acquisition is lower and an online-first approach taps into our region’s great strengths in software and eCommerce.

The Retail Stampede is open to any North Carolina-based consumer product company which has completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and/or has won an NC IDEA grant. Companies that have run a successful Kickstarter campaign have some measure of market validation–customers are willing to pay something for this product and the entrepreneur knows how to tell his/her story–which ensures the two-month incubation program can be spent helping companies begin the scaling process, rather than figuring out product-market fit. It also ensures that the efforts of the Retail Stampede program will be geared toward companies at roughly the same stage and targeted with the unique resources they need to cross the gap from ‘some traction’ to scalability.

Below is a proposed program schedule by week:

Pre-program: Assessments completed on selected companies, program refined based on assessments

Week one: Program introduction, participant develops clear goals for incubation period, brand strategy introduction and development

Week two: Finalize brand document, begin meetings with web developers/photographers for site development

Week three: Logistics and order fulfillment strategy session, continued work on web development

Week four: Web site draft completed/edits suggested, digital marketing strategy session and coaching

Week five: Email marketing strategy session, continued work on web development

Week six: Web site finalized, continued work on marketing strategies and logistics/order fulfillment

Week seven: Final edits/tweaks, pitch practice

Week eight: Launch party, unveil online storefronts

 

[1] The name ‘Startup Stampede’ comes from a program initiated by the Durham Chamber of Commerce from 2010-2012. The American Underground has approached the Chamber about reusing this name since it has some brand value and familiarity in our area’s startup scene.

[2] There are some 1300 Kickstarter initiatives that have launched in the Triangle alone, with just over 500 successfully funded. We believe there is a large target market for the Stampede. As of March 2016, there have been 809 Kickstarter projects in Raleigh (247 successfully funded), 361 in Durham (187 successfully funded) and 175 in Chapel Hill (88 successfully funded).

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