CHARLOTTE – Smack in the middle of the City of Charlotte’s Small Business Month, this week of May 14–18 features multiple signature events across the Queen City’s entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“The City of Charlotte honors and celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit that makes our community great and reaffirms our commitment to helping small businesses thrive and prosper,” said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles in an official proclamation designating the month of May as Small Business Month.
Two Accelerators to Launch
Two accelerators are set to launch during the week.
On Wednesday, the Charlotte chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) will launch the city’s first EO Accelerator in partnership with Innovate Charlotte. Only 50 of the 170 local chapters of EO provide an accelerator program, and this will be Charlotte’s first cohort. The three-year program focuses on helping qualifying companies experience rapid growth to help early-stage businesses reach $1 million in annual revenue.
Innovate Charlotte, the nonprofit organization working to increase innovation and entrepreneurship capacity in the Greater Charlotte area, will bring financial resources, marketing and promotional capacity to the EO Accelerator. Twelve companies will join the cohort launch, and will be announced on Wednesday.
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“The opportunities for more collaboration, meaningful connection and business growth continue to multiply in the Charlotte region,” said Walt Frye, Innovate Charlotte’s executive director. “It’s important we continue to take these steps because the rapid growth and diversity of local firms has been shown to be one of the most important factors to the resiliency and health of local economies – including ours.”
Innovate Charlotte is also set to host the announcement of the eight cleantech companies that will comprise the third cohort of the Joules Accelerator program, which is based in Charlotte and backed by Duke Energy and the City of Charlotte. The selected companies include three product innovators in the electric vehicle charging industry, three “smart grid” solutions that significantly improve electric grid reliability and energy efficiency, and two that seek to enhance urban resiliency through creative place-making and high-capacity indoor agriculture.
The companies begin the accelerator immediately following the announcement with an intensive three-day opening session that will also include a roundtable discussion with local leaders in the community public, who are set to “reverse pitch” the potential high-growth companies from across the nation on the advantages of expansion in the Queen City.
Additional Opportunities to Learn
The week kicks off on Monday, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools hosts the Charlotte Student Entrepreneur Summit at the Central Campus of Central Piedmont Community College. The Summit is a conference-style experience that aims to spur conversation between Charlotte’s entrepreneurs, business owners, community leaders, and high school students from Garinger, West Charlotte, and Zebulon B. Vance.
The week culminates with the “Techstars Experience,” an event hosted by StartCharlotte at the Camp North End Hygge coworking space. Three Charlotte companies—Milkful, Skillpop, and The Waggle Company—just finished the 12-week Techstars Accelerator in Austin, TX, and will share all of the details about their experience completing the program.
“Creating the space and opportunity for sharing successes and lessons learned among peers is vital to entrepreneur growth,” said Juan Garzon, StartCharlotte’s director in a statement. “The Charlotte-based founders will divulge insights gleaned from their time being mentored by high-growth business peers and multinational firms, which will boost local knowledge and know-how for other startups.”
In addition, Charlotte’s entrepreneurial economy will host several additional community events including:
VentureSouth’s May Member Meeting—The meeting begins with an introduction to angel investing for new and potential members, and then divides into a full agenda including a new company pitch. Held Wednesday, May 16, 4–6 p.m. at Packard Place. Packard Place Public House—The event formerly known as the #CLTStartupSocial immediately follows the VentureSouth member meeting at Packard Place, until 7:30 p.m. Startup Grind X Davidson—The Jay Hurt Hub for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Davidson College, which is still under construction, is the location for the first Startup Grind event in the Lake Norman area. Betsy Idilbi, CEO and Founder of Tech Talent South, is the featured entrepreneur and will share anecdotes and lessons about her entrepreneurial experiences. An open house hosted by Flywheel Coworking, which will open their second location and first in the Charlotte area at the Hurt Hub, occurs prior to the event. Open house at 5 p.m. and Startup Grind X Davidson at 6 p.m. Charlotte Brews+Bytes—The North Carolina Technology Association (NC TECH) hosts a networking and techworking open house at Industrious in the 27th floor of the Bank of America building in the heart of Uptown Charlotte. The event runs 5:30–7:30 p.m. Ignite Charlotte—The monthly meeting that features a series of five-minute talks comes to Grace on Brevard in Uptown Charlotte. Talks start at 7 p.m. but doors open at 6 p.m. Small Business Workshops—Throughout the week—and month—a series of workshops organized and led by the City of Charlotte and the Small Business Center will provide additional opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners to network and learn.