Business Briefs

Feb. 19, 2013 @ 11:52 PM

Hack-a-thon to be held at American Underground

DURHAM – A 24-hour hack-a-thon, which is an event where computer developers and designers get together to create a product within a specific time frame, will be held March 2-3 at American Underground.

The American Underground Hack-A-Thon will be open to web and mobile ideas, said Kristian Bouw, an event organizer, in an e-mail. Ideas must be created from scratch within the 24-hour span of the competition.

“The (hack-a-thon) is an opportunity for Triangle developers and designers to collaborate on ideas they have, creating a tangible product within 24 hours to be presented to a panel of judges,” Bouw said in an e-mail. “This event is a step to cultivating the entrepreneurial community that exists in the Triangle area and identifying technical talent.”

Bouw said the hack-a-thon is held in conjunction with the arrival of StartupBus, which will arrive in time to hear pitches for judging.

The StartupBus launched in 2010 as an experiment. A group left San Francisco on a road trip with the goal of launching a startup business on arrival in Austin in time for the SXSW technology conference, according to the website, In 2011, that experiment became a competition.

The hack-a-thon in Durham is slated to begin at 7 p.m. March 2, and ends at 7 pm. March 3. Registration is free, and is open to anyone 16 years and older.

To sign up, go to the website The American Underground is a hub for entrepreneurs in the basement of the American Tobacco campus in downtown Durham.


BioCryst reports smaller fourth-quarter net loss


DURHAM - BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported a net loss of $11.1 million for the fourth quarter that was reduced about 15 percent from the net loss the company reported for same period last year.

Its revenues were down about 27 percent to $4.1 million, a decrease that the company said was primarily due to a reduction in collaboration revenue from the contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development of the influenza treatment candidate peramivir, according to a news release.

The company announced in November that it was suspending enrollment in Phase 3 clinical trials for the candidate, which it was developing under a $234.8 million contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority.

General and administrative expenses for the quarter were down about 10 percent to $1.9 million, largely due to cost-cutting efforts and a company restructuring.

Research and development expenses for the quarter were down about 22 percent to $11.1 million. The company said lower development costs associated with its peramivir and ulodesine development were partially offset by higher development costs for its preclinical programs.

“Our primary goal is to advance our potentially ground-breaking oral kallikrein inhibitors for hereditary angioedema,” said Jon P. Stonehouse, president and CEO, in the release. “Phase 1 clinical trials for the lead compound, BCX4161, are scheduled to begin in the next few months and we are finalizing lead optimization for our second generation compound.”


IDEA Fund Partners invests in Florida-based 71lbs


DURHAM – The Durham-based venture capital firm IDEA Fund Partners announced Tuesday its investment in 71lbs, a technology firm that aims to help companies collect the money-back, on-time guarantees offered by shipping companies.

IDEA Fund Partners provides seed and early-stage financing to technology companies in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. It invested in 71lbs alongside OCA Ventures, Tamiami Angel Fund and TechStars Chicago.

The money is expected to help the company accelerate product development and expand marketing efforts.

The company has a “set and forget” system that automatically audits, applies for, and recovers funds from the money-back guarantees offered by FedEx and UPS.


5,000 users for Durham startup BoostSuite


DURHAM – The startup technology company BoostSuite announced Tuesday that its web marketing software has 5,000 users, six months after it launched the tool to the public.

The product aims to give small business owners a simple roadmap for improving their online marketing results, according to a news release from the company.

 “We are absolutely thrilled to be helping over 5,000 small businesses generate more online marketing results on their own” said Aaron Houghton, co-founder and CEO at BoostSuite.

After being awarded a grant for innovation from NC IDEA in mid 2012, BoostSuite created the Website Report Card, a feature that grades the optimization level of any website on the Internetand produces a simple plan for improving the areas where the site scores poorly.

Houghton was co-founder of the e-mail and social media marketing company iContact along with Ryan Allis. At the time, the two were students at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Allis went on to become the company’s CEO, and Houghton chaired the company’s board.

Last year, iContact sold to Vocus, a Maryland-based, publicly traded provider of e-mail and social marketing and public relations software.