Hey entrepreneurs, investor Paul Singh is coming to Wilmington

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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, where some of the startup bootcamp’s events will take place. Courtesy photo.

WILMINGTON — Looking to turn your ideas into a business? Or looking to take your business to the next level? A three-day startup bootcamp coming to Wilmington next week could help you do that.

The Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington is hosting the free events, which will take place from Tuesday, Oct. 4 through Thursday, Oct. 6, at different locations, including Ironclad Brewery and the University of North Carolina – Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

According to Jim Roberts of the Network for Entrepreneurs, instead of having a few big sessions, the bootcamp will have 15 smaller events over the three days where entrepreneurs and investors can have better interaction.

“This event is appropriate for entrepreneurs that want to meet investors, for those who want to meet new clients, and also for those who want to learn more about the startup scene,” Roberts said. “It will mostly focus on technology, but there will also be life sciences industries such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical device sales. But business lessons are business lesson no matter what, so anyone interested can learn more about the industry.”

Local companies such as Live Oak Bank, nCino and tekMountain are involved with the events, among others. Several decision-making executives will be present to talk to and with entrepreneurs during the sessions, which include office hours and what Roberts called a “Venture Capital 101” class to go over the basic terms and ideas associated with the industry.

One of the bigger sessions, according to Roberts, is a lunch event at tekMountain where leaders from ARC Transit, N2 Publishing, nCino and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will talk about the needs their companies have and how local entrepreneurs can fill them.

“We call this our ‘aspirin event,'” Roberts said. “These companies will tell us their pains, and startups will try to provide the aspirin.”

Though several Wilmington-area companies and investors will be present, the event is being held to coincide with the arrival of Paul Singh, one of the original partners of startup accelerator 500 Startups. Singh is on a nationwide tour this year, traveling from city to city in his Airstream to meet new entrepreneurs. According to Roberts, Singh is also looking to invest in $100,000 to $250,000 in new startups while on his tour.

Several investors from the Raleigh/Durham area, which is known as the startup center of North Carolina, will also come down what Roberts refers to as “the coastal corridor.”

“A lot of these people have second homes at the beach here,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to entice them to stay here and invest in local businesses or to move their businesses here. It’s definitely a recruitment effort – it’s a recruitment of executives, a recruitment of talent, a recruitment of capital.”

Roberts said building a startup industry in Wilmington is important to avoid a brain drain of the area’s brightest minds to other areas such as the Research Triangle, where the startup community is well-established.

“We’re seen as a tourist destination, as a real estate destination, as a retirement destination. I’m trying to add a little bit of business flavor to our area,” said Roberts, who also runs Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs, which focuses on angel investing (investing for equity in the company rather than giving out loans). “No one here likes to see UNCW students graduate and then move away to work, only to return when they retire. We want to see them stay here and get good jobs and become part of the local economy.”

Those interested in the three-day bootcamp can visit the Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington website. Roberts said participants are encouraged to sign up for each individual session they’d like to attend in order to give organizers the most accurate head count. All events are free.

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