UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) provides excellent resources and a great facility for new businesses. Incubating businesses is what we do, and the process helps lower the unemployment rate while simultaneously improving the local business economy. Many of the businesses who work with CIE receive assistance with business plans as well as strategic business mentoring from UNCW professors and CIE business experts. The CIE helps entrepreneurs nurture and grow their business ideas before they can eventually open a full-blown business.
Entrepreneur and inventor Ann Brewer is quick to tell anyone who will listen that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the resources of the CIE. While using a porta-potty at an outdoor concert, she realized that there was no good place to put her cell phone. Brewer created the Potti Pocket, a holder for cell phones that could be attached to a bathroom wall or door. She also reasoned that the Potti Pocket could be affixed to the back of stadium seats and other places. Corporate advertisements could even be printed on the front. For ease of cleaning, the holder has a small opening at its bottom that allows water or cleaning solutions to escape.
With the support of the CIE, Brewer created product drawings and within weeks had contracted with a U.S. factory to manufacture her prototypes. She and I went to a local injection molding company and negotiated a high-volume mold and piece price. Brewer has applied for patents and is working with CIE business experts to launch her new product worldwide. UNCW bought 500 Potti Pockets with the UNCW logo printed on the front. Major companies and distributors have asked for samples and high-volume quotes.
If you are a student, UNCW faculty member, new inventor, or budding entrepreneur, please email me at [email protected] or call 910-962-2886 to explore how we might help you make your business idea a reality.
Chuck Whitlock is the interim executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UNC Wilmington. CIE is an accelerator for the startup community to help diversify the local economy with innovative companies that will pay higher wages. For more information, go to www.uncw.edu/cie.
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