Many members of our community have worked hard over the past few years to build the Wilmington entrepreneurial ecosystem. The UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, tekMountain, Cucalorus CONNECT, Seahawk Innovation, local service providers, and others have enhanced the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We've gotten publicity across the state from WRAL Techwire, exitevent.com, and word of mouth. Success by companies such as Live Oak Bank, nCino, and Next Glass has raised the profile of the area with entrepreneurs and investors.
We need to start 2016 strong and continue to build on our momentum. I believe that two new organizations started by Jim Roberts will help propel our local entrepreneurial ecosystem. If you don't know Roberts, he is definitely someone who is very connected within North Carolina's entrepreneurial system and has leveraged those connections to help local startups make connections to grow their businesses.
Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington (NEW) is a more formal version of Roberts' 2015 monthly events that have been held at Ironclad Brewery. The events typically draw speakers, panelists and some attendees from across the state. December's free event “sold” 145 tickets. I am proud that my CPA firm is one of the founding sponsors of NEW. I commend Doug Scholer with the Toler Law Group for also stepping up as the other initial sponsor. These entrepreneurial events are educational in nature and allow for a monthly gathering of like-minded people in a relaxed setting. Come and check out the next event at 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 at Ironclad Brewery.
Roberts’ other new venture is Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs (WALE), which is an investor network that is intended to fill a gap in our local startup community. It will not be competing with existing groups such as IMAF Cape Fear or Wilmington's Investors Network (WIN) but serving as a complementary group. Roberts’ hope is to bridge the gap with early funding efforts so that startups can more quickly reach the point where they are more attractive to IMAF, WIN or venture groups to invest in. In 2015, a WALE member made an investment in Petrics, an early-stage startup.
I implore you to check out and support NEW in 2015. Both annual and event sponsorship opportunities are available. If you’re an accredited investor then talk with Jim Roberts about possible opportunities with WALE. I am excited to see what 2016 brings to our local startup community!
Adam Shay, CPA (N.C. License Number 35961), MBA, is managing partner of Adam Shay CPA, PLLC. He focuses on minimizing taxes and improving the financial results of entrepreneurs, and is actively involved in supporting the Wilmington entrepreneurial and startup community. For more information, visit http://www.wilmingtontaxesandaccounting.com/ or email him at [email protected]. He can also be reached by phone at (910) 256-3456.
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