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Entrepreneurs

NEW Receives Ecosystem Grant To Start Entrepreneurship Program

By Johanna Cano, posted Dec 10, 2020
Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington has won a grant from NC IDEA to support a new program for local startups and entrepreneurs.

NC IDEA announced on Thursday the 17 organizations in the state chosen from 65 applicants that are recipients of the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant.

NEW partnered with the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Genesis Block; and Karl Ricanek, of Lapetus Solutions, to apply for the grant.

“There hasn’t been a more vital time in recent history to support the organizations that are helping people start high growth companies,” Thom Ruhe, CEO and president of NC IDEA said in a news release. “Adding these 17 organizations’ efforts to our ECOSYSTEM partner network will improve our ability to support new firm formation and the jobs they create, which will be vital to our economic recovery.”

The grant will fund Precelerator, a two-to-three-month program in which early-stage companies will work with regional experts on the Lean Business Canvas, NEW founder Jim Roberts said in an email. Lean Business Canvas includes training on topics such as problem, solution, key metrics, unique value proposition, cost structures, revenue streams and more.

Through the partnership, Genesis Block will host a program that will serve as a feeder for the Precelerator, Roberts said.

“We believe this Precelerator program will lead to more local investment as we help fill the knowledge gaps in our local entrepreneurs who are often first-time founders,” Roberts said in a NEW newsletter Thursday. “We will be using guides like the Lean Business Canvas to set a baseline of understanding of business basics. I like the term, a Scaffolding program, or supporting the business while the business is growing and maturing.”

Roberts said a program like this is important for the region because there has recently been a lack of startups winning grants or being selected for pitch contests. This program will help startups with preparing for large funding and grant opportunities.

While NEW received $62,000 in the grant, that is half of what it applied for. This means that it may run a one-year program and, depending on its success, search for private funding to continue it.

This year’s grant required applicants to focus on supporting “under-represented” entrepreneurs, which include women, minorities and those from Tier 1 and Tier 2 countries as identified by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

“While a Wilmington startup has never been chosen for a Techstars-level accelerator, we want to do a better job of preparing the local startups for that opportunity,” Roberts said.
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