Category Archives: Start-up culture

Shart Tank!!!

How all y’all doin this morning? Peachy, I hope and pray.

Have you heard the latest about Shart Star Tank? No? Have you not heard of Star Tank? Allow me to enlighten you:

Star Tank is like that show “Shark Tank,” where randoms walk in off the street and pitch business ideas to a panel of potential investors, the only differences being that it is in Roanoke and instead of Mark Cuban you get to meet Mark Lucas and/or Mark Pace. And don’t ask why it is called “Star” Tank…you’re better than that.

Anyhoo, this version they are doing May 14th at the CoLab in Grandin will differ from the one they did last November (and will do again this coming November) in that this event “will focus on business development by allowing start-ups, inventors, and entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their pitch and receive feedback.” That sounds totally different to me so I believe them that it is totally different and not exactly the same thing they’ve done before.

I personally love the idea of a local venue for start-ups to polish their pitch, potentially pitch polish, and certainly pitch woo. Seriously, I do! Is it a bit hokey, er, “hokie” (get it? GET IT?), to just balls-out copy this dumb tv show? Yes, but it also seems like fun, and really helpful even if you fall on your face.

As it happens, I walked into CoLab last November when they held the inaugural event. Didn’t have a clue what the hell was going on. They had a couple of banners hanging on the walls and a bunch of nervous, suited gentlemen walking around toting white binders. And that is the sum total of my reportage from Star Tank #1! I’d have taken more extensive notes had I realized I’d soon be starting a world-famous blog.

Here, now read more words: Since I’m not a journalist, I don’t feel like I need to make any stinkin’ disCLOsures to you beetches, but I will anyway because I like you, so you might be interested to know that I have met a few of the judges on the panel, I know everyone who works for and at CoLab, and I’m vaguely considering getting my “stuff” together and presenting my own biz idea at this shindig in May. ‘Nuff said.

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Filed under Grandin culture, Start-up culture

It is called “serendipity”

On the same day Apple unveils its dope watch, Roanoke receives a 600K grant from the state for a land swap deal that will lead to the opening of an accelerator inside an old medical building in 12 to 18 months time.


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Filed under infrastructure upgrades, Start-up culture

Same ol’, same ol’ Part 1

I swear that this blog will eventually be more than simply re-posting articles from the Roanoke Times, but just this very second (!) I read an interesting and almost germane article that I thought you, my zero dear readers, would find…um, how will you find this? Amazing? Catastrophic? Since there are zero of you, I guess there will be no feeling at all.

Anyway, here is the article.

“Start-up culture,” on which I’m an unquestioned expert so don’t question me on it, begins with smart people with new ideas, but it does not end there. You also need boring infrastructure crap, as you would for any nascent endeavor. (Except for hillbilly culture, for which all you need is dirt. No, I kid! This is Appalachia, homie, I ain’t hatin’. I’ve got pickup envy SO HARD right now.) Infrastructure that One Million Percent includes ubiquitous broadband, but also just good office space. Utilitarian – meaning conducive to the way start-ups work, so NOT segregated cube farms in suburban office parks – and comfortable.

We need more and better office space for start-ups to thrive here. For all the hype surrounding Roanoke’s downtown revitalization over the past decade, developers have actually done a shit job on this front. Sure, we needed apartments, but we didn’t only need apartments. What about a grocery store? Or a movie theater? Or affordable, attractive office space for start-ups??? *Caveat:Coworking space is a separate issue, and one I’ll discuss at a future date; as regards Roanoke, it is a surprisingly fruitful topic.*

Back to the article in the Times, which, for those too lazy to click on it, is about the City of Salem’s plan to “energize” their lil’ downtown. Why is it interesting for our purposes here at Grandin Republic? Especially when a reference to start-ups, even an oblique one, is nowhere to be found? It is because of the following quote, explaining that the methodology of the Salem study, which included public solicitation of ideas and upon which planning for downtown revitalization was based, uncovered this response:

“Not everyone sees the need to change anything in Salem, though. Payne said one thing they have noticed from survey respondents and casual conversation is that older generations of Salem residents think downtown Salem is fine just the way it is and don’t care for any changes.”


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Filed under NIMBY, Start-up culture

A second post?

Yeah, a second post! This is almost legit.

So here is a confession: I wrote a few posts even before taking the plunge and signing up with WordPress. I figured that if there was actually something to be said on the issue of Roanoke Valley Start-Up Culture, I’d be able to write more than one story pretty much off the top of my head.

And I was. Able to write more than one piece, that is; in fact, I stockpiled a handful. However, after publishing the first post, I’m questioning the value of those rounds remaining in the clip.

Still, I want to keep the momentum going, so I wanted to share a couple of articles you might have missed in the Roanoke Times. Here is one posted online February 26, and another posted today, the 8th of March.

Neither article is about start-ups, exactly, unless you consider DIY civic hacktivism to be a part of start-up culture. Which I do, and it obviously is, so I’m happy to share these cool examples of Sisters Doing It For Themselves.

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Filed under Start-up culture

Hello World


Here’s the deal. I looked around for one good source, one decent outlet for news and reportage on the Valley’s “start-up culture,” but couldn’t find one. Sure, there were a few scattered news stories in the paper, but nothing in-depth and on-going.

To clarify: Not THAT Valley, but this whole ‘nother valley here in Virginia, the Roanoke Valley. Y’all should come visit.

Anyway, it was a Dead End, so this first entry represents something of a rightaboutface, a three-point turn in that search cul-de-sac. I’m gonna take this old jalopy (huh? What jalopy?) out on the information superhighway and just EMBODY the change I want to see in the world. (A blog is the change you want to see in the world? Please, lower your expectations before life rips your shit to shreds.)

I am not going to be cynical. I am not going to make this about myself. I am not going to make this about my pit bull, who regularly rips my shit to shreds.

I am, instead, writing this thing for ONLY ONE PURPOSE.

Oh, you want me to explicitly state that purpose? I thought it was obvious enough that I wouldn’t have to spell it out for you. Ok, I’m going to write about “start-up culture in the Roanoke Valley.” Duh.

I imagine this could be difficult. And when I say difficult, I mean there will be words and also typing of words. So yeah. But, again, I went looking for a resource and it apparently doesn’t exist, so dagnabbit, somebody has got to do this thing!, and I guess that somebody is me until I get bored with it. I’ll just take it one step at a time. As they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And also additionally too, you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.

And I’m not going to be cynical or snarky starting on my very next post.

Speaking of, here is how I see the path forward in future posts (leave a comment if you have additional ideas [eternal silence of slumbering keyboards]): discuss resources for local start-ups, e.g. access to capital and adequate work space; interviews with local techie types; rambling opinions; pithy musings on muesli;  and other start-up issues.

So let’s briefly recap. Roanoke Valley start-up culture. News. Information. Pit bulls. Muesli.

Stay tuned.

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Filed under Start-up culture