Wilmington conference looks to promote, foster local startups

wilmington_conference_looks_to_promote__foster_local_startups3-day event to include talks, meetings with potential investors

WILMINGTON — Small businesses are the lifeblood of any town or city, and Wilmington is no different according to the organizer responsible for bringing a three-day tech startup tour to the N.C. coast.

But Jim Roberts said the Port City need to work to make sure its academic and entrepreneurial assets stay in the Wilmington area.

“Wilmington has a bit of a brain drain,” said the founder of Wilmington-based Network for Entrepreneurs. Once the best and brightest graduate from high schools and universities in the area, they flee to larger cities with more opportunity. An event like next week’s startup conference will encourage these individuals to make roots in Wilmington and grow the community and economy, Roberts said.

Headlining next week’s event is veteran entrepreneur and venture capitalist Paul Singh, who has worked with high-profile startups around the world. He is bringing the Results Junkies Tech Tour to Wilmington for its only stop in North Carolina.

“The real goal of the Tech Tour is to bring functional expertise and venture capital dollars to parts of North America that don’t regularly get the same amount of attention as the well-know tech hubs,” Singh said in a release.

Roberts said next week’s event is important to the Wilmington community because it will help diversify the region’s job market. Instead of just focusing on tourism, real estate and the area’s growing retiree population, an event like this will help showcase the entrepreneurs and startups Wilmington has to offer — hopefully fostering a desire to create even more here, Roberts said.

Roberts said creating startups and hiring young graduates, especially from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), will give young employees equity in the company — and the local community. Then they will be less likely to leave to work in other areas and then come back for retirement. Instead they will stay during their highest revenue earning years and help grow Wilmington’s economy, Roberts said.

Thanks to support from local companies and business incubators like UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and TekMountain, the tour is free for all attendees. Scheduled events and programs include talks from recent successful startups and meetings with potential investors.

Reporter Casey McAnarney can be reached at 910-343-2023 or StarNewsIntern1@StarNewsOnline.com.