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Poole Alumni Launch Startup to Foster Human Connection

Through the Andrews Launch Accelerator, business administration graduates Thomas Armstrong and Parker Mayes created LetsGo Raleigh to "make it easy for people to spend time with each other."

Poole College alumni Thomas Armstrong (left) and Parker Mayes, founders of LetsGoRaleigh, were featured on CBS 17's MyCarolina program.
Poole College alumni Thomas Armstrong (left) and Parker Mayes, founders of LetsGoRaleigh, were featured on CBS 17's MyCarolina program.

Interested in ax throwing or glassblowing with drinks at a rooftop bar later? How about a Wine&Design class or ice skating then dinner? Or maybe you want to vent stress by destroying objects in a rage room.

Whatever you’re into, there’s a new option to find fun ways to spend time with your spouse or date, personalized for you by LetsGoRaleigh.

Poole College alumni Thomas Armstrong and Parker Mayes — who both earned degrees in business administration — established the startup, a subscription-based service that arranges dates for members by pairing them with a human concierge who sets up outings tailored to their preferences.    

The rapidly growing business has tapped a market of busy professionals who want to be intentional about togetherness with their significant other, “but it’s just not happening,” says Armstrong, a 2020 graduate.

The ultimate aim is to promote healthy, engaged relationships.

Both Mayes and Armstrong have been impacted by divorce or strained relationships among their families and friends. They wanted their business to focus on “how we could use technology to make it easy for people to spend time with each other … and to do life together,” Armstrong says.

The startup began as a free service but became a membership model after the founders participated in NC State’s Andrews Launch Accelerator, a startup fast-track program for recent NC State graduates. The program is administered through the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic based in the Poole College of Management.

“What was most helpful was the coaching and accountability from coaches who were invested in what we’re doing,” Armstrong says.

Mayes and Armstrong
Mayes and Armstrong met as students at NC State in 2018.

Entrepreneurs further along with their businesses connected them to resources. “The mentors we met through the accelerator were phenomenal,” Mayes, a 2022 graduate, says. “And being around other entrepreneurs at similar stages and growing with them was really cool.” 

More and more people think LetsGoRaleigh is really cool. About 100 members use the service now, and the startup has been featured in Raleigh-area media, including CBS 17 and Grepbeat.

Their success doesn’t surprise Haley Huie, director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic and co-host of the Andrews Accelerator with Josh Guter.   

“The things that have most impressed me about Thomas and Parker are their drive, coachability and willingness to tackle whatever is thrown their way. They are hardworking, but they’re also incredibly strategic,” Huie says. “They’re top of mind for me when people ask me about what I love in working with aspiring founders at NC State.”

After Mayes and Armstrong took LetsGoRaleigh through several iterations and learned from their target market, they “arrived at an awesome solution for memorable date nights. They did it because they really zeroed in on customer discovery and figured out what would add value for couples,” Huie says.

What adds value for couples is in the details and customized plans LetsGoRaleigh provides.

The concierge arranges tickets, reservations, parking and other particulars. A travel and family membership option can schedule kids’ activities, day and weekend trips, flights and hotels. A recently launched business option offers plans for company workshops, team lunches and dinners, retreats and other events.

group enjoying a waterfront meal
Armstrong (right) says he and Mayes (left) wanted their business to focus on “how we could use technology to make it easy for people to spend time with each other.”

Armstrong and Mayes aren’t stopping at Raleigh. 

Their goal? To expand into Charlotte in 2024 and, within several years, to operate in the 100 largest U.S. cities, including Chicago, New York and Seattle.  

Even when they achieve that aim, they’re not through. “We want to scale a bunch of companies inside a portfolio of businesses,” Mayes says. Their vision is to be multipreneurs by building early-stage businesses, within a type of incubator, that are sustainable for growth and then hiring people to take the enterprises to the next level.

Mayes and Armstrong credit some of their Poole College high-impact experiences with influencing their success. Several internships Mayes had and Armstrong’s involvement with the Entrepreneurship Clinic provided valuable real-world experience.

It helps that LetsGoRaleigh promotes one of their core values — the importance of human connection.

“I love arranging these delightful experiences for people where it’s already important to them to spend time together,” Armstrong says. “We can make that very easy for them.”

That doesn’t mean that running their business is easy.

“Starting a company from scratch is definitely the hardest thing we’ve ever done,” Mayes says. “But it is a lot of fun. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.”