Ventureprise recently concluded its seventh cohort for the Ventureprise Launch NC IDEA customer discovery program. As an NC IDEA Ecosystem Partner, Ventureprise offers this “bootcamp” to early-stage and innovative-driven start-ups in the Charlotte community.
Twelve companies participated in the Spring 2019 cohort. They worked to identify target customers, define the problem they are solving and develop a business model that provides the best opportunity to accelerate profitable commercial aspects of their innovative companies. Individuals in this cohort produced a variety of business concepts, from wearable technology to track individuals with Alzheimer’s, to VR technology for HR professionals.
“I had a lot of faith in this program because I knew it was affiliated with UNC Charlotte and NC IDEA, which was important to me because it established credibility,” said Katie Hotze, founder of Shopii.
Ventureprise is one of the small business support programs offered through UNC Charlotte that connects participants with partnership opportunities in the surrounding community. One of the program graduates will begin the process of becoming an industry partner with UNC Charlotte this upcoming year.
In Charlotte for Charlotte companies
“I could go to a lot of places, but I live here and it’s convenient. UNC Charlotte has one of the biggest computer science program in the state, there is a lot of talent here, why not utilized it and support my community as well,” said Jon Corkey, program graduate and industry partner prospect. Being an industry partner will allow Corkey to have an office space on campus and work with faculty for research.
At Ventureprise, the goal is to help individuals gain knowledge that can be used and applied to any startup or business idea they may have now or in the future. “Through the customer discovery program, I learned the value of my consumer and that I needed to make key strategic changes in my business model in order to make a profit,” added Hotze.
The Ventureprise Launch NC IDEA program is a community-based program that gives companies exposure to customer discovery, mentorship and network building. This program encourages entrepreneurs to go out and connect with their customer base. Throughout the program, members are asked to conduct over 30+ interviews. Each week they meet to report on their findings from the interviews that week.
“In our program, individual entities have the opportunity to join other entrepreneurs and companies in a cohort that holds them accountable for each step in the entrepreneurial process,” said Devin Collins, interim executive director of Ventureprise. During their weekly presentations, tthe Ventureprise teaching team and other members of the cohort offer feedback.
Helping to develop startups
“What I learned from the program was how to ask questions. People we interviewed were giving us feedback and making comments about our product. We had to go about the interviews like we didn’t already have a product to find our target market. The change in how we asked questions transcended into a different exchange in our conversations,” said Desmond Wiggins, co-founder of BatteryXchange, a technology and logistics company that allows their client to rents portable batteries for their cell phones while on the go.
A total of 59 companies have completed the program, with a goal to be better prepared for NC IDEA’s Micro and Seed Grant opportunities as well as the Charlotte Venture Challenge.
“The program actually informed me of the NC IDEA Seed and Micro grant applications. I have never applied for a grant before but it is critical to the development of my MVP and they have been instrumental in navigating these uncharted waters,” said Michael Johnson, program graduate and founder of WeStory.
Now that this cohort has successfully completed the six-week course, Ventureprise will begin taking applications for the summer cohort to begin in June. Apply online at www.entrepreneurship.uncc.edu
To learn more about these companies visit www.entrepreneurship.uncc.edu and click “Programs” and then select “Meet our Program Alumni.”