It all started with a ringleader, a guy passionate about the Triangle startup community and hoping to get more jobseekers working in it. Chris Heivly hatched Tech Jobs Under the Big Top in 2011, selecting a circus theme to infuse fun into the typically boring job fair and provide a uniqueness that matched the variety of tech companies presenting.
Six years later, we’re building on the legacy with the same “Wow factor” of live events along with a digital presence that combines hyperlocal job listings with compelling storytelling about growing companies and powerful data about talent and hiring trends.
We define Big Top’s circus like this: An open gathering where companies, people and interests converge in a chaotic but exciting sort of way. We hope you’ll join us in the ring.
The team at American Underground acquired Big Top in June 2017 as part of a strategy to meet the needs of growing technology and startup companies in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Our ambition is to serve our local community well—opening the high tech job market to a larger and more diverse population—while exploring opportunities to take Big Top to other innovation hubs across the United States.
Leading the charge are a pair of team members who have led operations at American Underground and managed its subsidiary media company ExitEvent. More on the team below.
Laura Baverman has served as editor of ExitEvent for the last three-and-a-half years, building the media company into a statewide publication with a series of live events. Her background is in business journalism, with work appearing in USA Today, The Cincinnati Enquirer and several American City Business Journals publications. And for the last eight years, she’s focused on entrepreneurship and startups. Laura is passionate about telling the stories of entrepreneurs, introducing people to the startup ecosystem and helping them connect the dots to make smarter business decisions.
Sr. Director of Operations & Talent, American Underground
Molly Demarest is the senior director of operations and talent for American Underground, a thriving campus for entrepreneurs, based in Durham. Dubbed as the “Startup Capital of the South” by CNBC, the American Underground has grown to serve as a destination for startups, supporting over 300 companies across five locations and 125,000 square feet. While responsible for overseeing operations, finance and real estate development, Molly learned firsthand the pains of growing companies. Chief among them was finding the right talent. In her new role, she’s helping companies do just that, connecting jobseekers with places to use their gifts while fostering the talent pipeline in the Triangle and beyond.
Michael English is sales and event coordinator for ExitEvent, where his role includes understanding the advertising goals of each client and then customizing event sponsorships and digital advertising options to best fit their marketing needs. Michael also lends his love for entrepreneurship and innovation as program director for the Innovate Your Cool Conference and as founder of his own startup, Rise NTWK. ExitEvent sponsors and advertisers frequently ask for ways to promote open jobs. Michael is excited to have a new avenue to support them.