tekMountain to help tech startups grow

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Castle Branch's new office building off Sir Tyler Drive. Its top floor will be the home of a new business incubator called tekMountain. Photo by Ben Brown.
Castle Branch’s new office building off Sir Tyler Drive. Its top floor will be the home of a new business incubator. Photo by Ben Brown.


That’s the name of the long discussed business incubator being developed on the top floor of Castle Branch’s new world headquarters off Sir Tyler Drive.

“It’s a privately held, community driven incubator-accelerator,” said Joe Finley, president of Castle Branch, an employment screening and background-check company that is dramatically growing its footprint and adding jobs in Wilmington.

The company reported this week that its new, 60,000-square-foot office building is expected to open this May; in October 2013, CEO Brett Martin announced the top floor would be reserved for an incubator to help boost the profile of Wilmington’s tech scene.

Incubators generally offer low-cost workspace and mentorship–and sometimes funding connections–for creative startups so they can grow at a rapid rate and spin out to become independently sufficient. Another local example is the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), which opened in September at 803 S. College Road and is currently working with 19 hopeful Wilmington companies.

“We started this company [Castle Branch] in 1997 with four of us in one room trying to figure out what to do, and it took us about five years to figure out a lot of things,” Finley related Thursday morning to a crowd of local businesspeople gathered for a CIE-arranged discussion of the needs of the area’s top employers, including Castle Branch, which is hiring hundreds over the next few years.

Story: Castle Branch confirms local expansion, 420 new jobs

For idea-people wanting the same success, he said, “We want to try to shorten that cycle [of time] for a number of folks that are either at our company or are outside of the company, here in the community, who want to get involved in more of the tech type of things that are happening.”

Story: Tech employers say jobs are here, but talent pool needs growth

tekMountain’s current online presence consists of a limited website, www.tekmountain.com, and Twitter account, @tekMountain, whose tagline reads: “Accelerating the growth of Wilmington’s high-wage knowledge economy by attracting, hosting, and training technology-based companies.”

Castle Branch is making sure its approximately 300 Wilmington employees know they have an opportunity with tekMountain, said Finley. The message to them:

“You’re an employee of Castle Branch. If you want to take advantage of tekMountain, take advantage of developing something on your own that we could sell through our channels, we want to support you with that. You personally will benefit from that.”

Finley said it could lead sharp-minded employees to graduate from the Castle Branch payroll and become their own bosses.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Bloch said full details about tekMountain aren’t ready for release until early May, when Castle Branch plans to cut the ribbon on its new office building, right next to the company’s current, 36,000-square-foot home.

Related stories:

F. Scott Moody, AuthenTec co-founder, says Wilmington has good support system for startups

‘Optimism’ expressed for local innovation economy

Wilmington startup Next Glass wins statewide tech award

UNCW entrepreneurship center poised to make Wilmington an innovation beacon, director says

Wilmington company beats statewide competition for innovation award

Program helps veterans realize entrepreneurial dreams 

Ben Brown is a news reporter at Port City Daily. Reach him at ben.b@hometownwilmington.com or (910) 772-6335. On Twitter: @benbrownmedia