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What do two heart doctors, a startup expert, demography, a guy on stage talking about Mars, and a platform for birthday gift giving have in common? No clue, but they were the topics from our Best of RTP180 event! Can you believe that we have been doing RTP180 for four years? Four years! Over the course of those four years we’ve had over 14,000 people attend, seen talks as short as two minutes and forty-four seconds and as long as 12 minutes, had 225 different organizations represented, drank 144 kegs of beer, and endured 96 corny jokes by me (which I find to be a little low).

From all of us involved with planning and producing RTP180, a sincere thank you goes out to everyone who has taken the time to either speak or attend. We couldn’t have sustained this event for four years without you!

And now, without further delay, I give you the recap of the Best of RTP180.

Dr. John Vavalle + Dr. Tommy Caranasos – Innovations in Treating Heart Valve Disease

Over the last few years, Dr. John and Dr. Tommy explain that there have been amazing tech advances in treating heart valve disease that take the skill of both an interventional cardiology and the surgical skills of a heart surgeon. These advances are important because as the US population rapidly ages, there is an increase in the number of heart valve disease cases. In the past, the only way to treat heart valve disease was through open heart surgery, but because of the age of most patients, this is not always the best option. This is why these minimally invasive catheter type approaches are a better solution for these patients. The five-year survival rate for someone with heart valve disease is 3%. Just 3%! This is far worse than many cancers or other diseases.

As smart as you may think I am, I’m no doctor, so I’ll let John and Tommy explain things like Aortic Valve Stenosis and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement through their 180 talk HERE.

Adam Klein – American Underground

Ah yes, Adam Klein. One of the most influential leaders in the Durham tech and startup scene. When Adam first spoke at RTP180, he introduced us to the Small Office concept, better known as the “smoffice.”  Now, he’s back with a new initiative, Startup Stampede, which will continue to build the startup ecosystem through consumer product focused companies. Adam explained that over the years we (American Underground) have noticed an uptick in success of consumer product companies, and that they are succeeding in spite of the fact that there’s not a lot of local programming for these companies.

But, what if these companies had more support system help their success? Enter the Startup Stampede, a program focused on consumer product companies. Adam does a wonderful job explaining the program and how one with a consumer product company can get involved in his 180 talk HERE.

Rebecca Tippett – Finding the Story in Data

There’s a story hidden in the data surrounding demography. If you think about it, demography at its very core is about the fundamentals of human existence. The drivers of population growth and change are some of these fundamentals. According to Rebecca, we call these “life’s arrivals and departures.”

The story is found by looking at numbers across a multitude of factors such as sex, age, race and ethnicity, income and several others. For example, more deaths than births generally mean a population is older versus a younger population which has more births than deaths.

Watch Rebecca’s 180 talk HERE to learn more about the story that unfolds through demography.

Marshall Brain – A Million-Person Mars Colony 

Oh boy, where do I begin with this one? None of us were quite prepared for what Marshall had up his sleeve. He pushed the envelope further than any other RTP180 speaker has in the past. I guess it’s true what they say, if you’re not living on the edge…you’re taking up too much space.

While Marshall’s approach to this topic was a bit unorthodox, he does actually have a solid point – “If it’s not working here on Earth, why would the same system work on Mars?”

In other words, if we have this mission to send a million people to Mars, who goes? Why do they go? If we send people based on a lottery system, isn’t there a chance that a bad apple of a person is on their way to Mars to spoil it for the rest?

I don’t do nearly the colorful job that Marshall did while explaining his thoughts, so if you’re in for being entertained, you should tune in to his RTP180 talk HERE. (Disclaimer – I’ve done my best to warn you that Marshall’s talk has some colorful language, and is on the edgy side.)

Zack Newbauer – CommuniGift

If you’ve been coming to RTP180 for several years now, you know that this is the third time we’ve invited Communigift to talk – and the story never gets old. As much as I pick on UNC (hey, I’m a Pirate) there are some wonderful people, discoveries, and athletes that have come out of that fine University, but none of them in my opinion match up to the hearts and integrity of the gentlemen who founded Communigift.

Most of us spend 99% of our day focused on how we can make money, at least I know I do. These guys spend their day focused on how they can help change a kid’s life. Even if it’s as simple as a few gifts on their birthday. Communigift is a platform that provides a real, personal, and simple giving opportunity for your child and help them celebrate the good we all have in common.

Ready to be inspired? Watch Zack’s 180 talk as he covers the past, present, and future of Communigift HERE.

I seriously can’t say it enough, but thank you all for supporting RTP180 for the past four years. A lot of hard work goes into putting on the event, and we certainly couldn’t do it without the 14,000+ people who have attended. Here’s to four more years!

Maybe we can get a chant going, Four more years! Four more years! No? Ok, well I just hope to see you next month. Until next time…