Entrepreneur event to assist military veterans with start-ups

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Ironclad Brewery in downtown Wilmington will host the free panel discussion and networking event for veterans and their spouses. Courtesy photo.
Ironclad Brewery in downtown Wilmington will host the free panel discussion and networking event for veterans and their spouses. Courtesy photo.

An upcoming entrepreneurial event will serve those who have served their country.

Hosted by Jim Roberts, former head of UNC-Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the panel discussion is set for 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18 at Ironclad Brewery, 115 N. Second St. in downtown Wilmington.

In addition to quick pitch propositions from several local veterans who successfully launched start-ups, the event will feature guest speaker Michael Penney of Bunker Labs’ RDU. The non-profit, which helps veterans capitalize on their military experience in entrepreneurial pursuits, is based in Chicago but has expanded to the Triangle area.

Bunker Labs works nationwide, but Roberts said Penney’s visit is particularly relevant to the Port City, which has grown a reputation for veteran-founded companies. Now the founder of Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington (NEW), Roberts first saw that growth through his work at UNCW. While at CIE, he helped connect fellow military members turned inventors and innovators.

Notable among that network, Roberts said, are Andrew Williams, who started Elite Innovations, a product-development firm, Edward Hall of pet technology company Petrics, and Jeremy Tomlinson, one half of the duo that created the successful Port City Brew Bus.

Following Penney’s chat, a panel discussion about resources and opportunities open to former military will ensue. The panel includes veterans Dean Bundschu, Bunker Lab RDU’s executive director and former entrepreneur, Stephen Clossick, manager of a Triangle-based angel investing group and Chris Kelly, former leader of the First Flight Venture Center in Durham. Venture capital expert Clare Pozek, who is also a military spouse, will moderate the discussion.

Spouses like Pozek are welcome to attend the entrepreneurial event, as well, Roberts said. It’s free to attend but online registration is encouraged, as seating is limited. As of July 16, just 55 seats remained.