Hands down one of the best things that startups can do to find success is to get up and get out to events. These are more than just chances to network within the community (something that’s vitally important), they also provide opportunities to spark new ideas and to invigorate the energy of your company.

High Five Conference 2017

When: February 28-March 2

Where: Sheraton Raleigh Hotel in Downtown Raleigh

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This three-day marketing and creative conference has sold out for the last three years and is on the road to selling out again this year. That incredible rate of attendance is with good reason – this conference is a fantastic opportunity for startups to dig deeper into their marketing and outreach strategies. Hosted by the AMA Triangle, High Five merges marketing with collaboration to give attendees actionable steps to take back to their businesses.

Creative thinking is the heart of High Five, which seeks to bring together a wide variety of disciplines under the umbrella of marketing. Whether you’re a writer, a developer, a product manager, a designer, a strategist or a business owner who does all of the above, there is a great deal for you at the High Five Conference.

The conference starts out with valuable hands on workshops that invite businesses to rework their marketing strategies. The last two days take inspiration up a notch with keynote speeches and breakout sessions to help startups get big picture ideas and boil them down to real world applications.

Triangle Startup Weekend EDU

When: February 20-22

Where: Hunter Library @ NCSU

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How is a business born? That’s the question that’s answered at each Triangle Startup Weekend.

First off, it’s important to note here that this is just the first Triangle Startup Weekend event of 2017, as others will be popping up on the calendar as the year goes on. Startup Weekends are unlike other events for new businesses in that they are comprehensive, taking a business from pitch, through brainstorming and business plan develop, all the way to the creation of a basic prototype, all within less than 55 hours. This is an experiential process. At the end of the weekend, on Sunday night, entrepreneurs present their projects to a panel for evaluation.

There are Triangle Startup Weekends held all over the Triangle area, including Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, throughout the year. Each weekend centers on a different idea like lean business, social impact, women in business, or education. That last topic is the subject of the next TSW in February, 2017.

Each weekend includes some incredibly valuable information from successful entrepreneurs and experts. These weekends are powerful, generating innovation and forward momentum for projects, all while pushing forward the entrepreneurial spirit. Participants consistently comment on the powerful impact of Triangle Startup Weekends as incubators of ideas as well as bringing them out of the idea stage and into reality.

City Camp

When: September 2017

Where: TBD

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With the stated goal of bringing members of the community, government and business together, City Camp is a three-day open source conference that is offers an incredibly low entry fee (just $20 in 2016). There’s really just no excuse not to attend this networking and learning opportunity each year.

The thrust of what City Camp is trying to do is to open doors for people to communicate with one another, rather than sitting separately in their offices with their individualized agendas. This is all in service of building a better city with improved services and opportunities. Workshops offer hands on opportunities to change the way that people get things done, offering actionable steps that can be taken out of the conference and into the real world.

Given the open source format, attendees take on an active participatory role in the events of the weekend. This is a user generated venture, unlike almost all other business conferences. The notion is that everyone has expertise and ideas to contribute to make the community better and to improve the way that things get done, even when ideas and motivations might seem on the surface to be wholly disparate.

Many of the events on Thursday night and Saturday are completely free, with only the Friday full day of workshops costing that small fee. Preregistration is highly recommended, even for the free events.

Raleigh Chamber of Commerce: C-Suite Perspectives

When: February 17

Where: The Umstead Hotel and Spa

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This is another series of events that offers a real boost to startups, so look for C-Suite Perspectives events from the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce throughout the year. The Chamber brings in the top business executives from some of the most successful businesses in the Triangle to share insight and motivation.

These sessions give startups the chance to connect with the community in a wider sense and to get incredible insight from and access to successful business leaders that just wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Each session ends with an in-depth Q&A from the audience, which allows for specific guidance and leadership from top executives right in the Raleigh area. This kind of networking just isn’t available in any other venue, and it’s pretty fantastic for startups to be able to take advantage of the expertise and experience here. The events are sponsored by local companies like the Carolina Hurricanes, the News and Observer, and Duke Raleigh Hospital, among others.

Membership in the Chamber of Commerce is required to attend, though yearly membership fees are reasonably priced for small businesses and well worth the many benefits that are part and parcel of the price. A small fee is additional to Chamber membership as well.


The day-to-day grind of business can present a challenge to keeping that vigor alive that is what makes startups able to keep going, and the injection of passion and fire that comes from connecting with other successful business people can boost a startup towards success.

These Triangle events for startups in 2017 are all well worth the time and effort it takes to attend. Startups will find that these events offer tools and resources to push your business to the next level and beyond.

Entrepreneurs of the Triangle: Which events do you plan to attend this year?


Pete Peranzo

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