Posted Sep. 5, 2014 at 10:16 a.m.

UNC professor's recipe for successful entrepreneurial ecosystem

Published: 2014-09-05 10:16:41
Updated: 2014-09-05 10:16:41


Editor's note: Laura Baverman, editor of ExitEvent, covered the Coastal Connect conference in Wilmington on Thursday and offers this report about UNC Professor Ted Zoller's expert view on how to build a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.

WILMINGTON, N.C. - Great entrepreneurs. Sophisticated and committed investors. Capable management talent.

The three elements to make a thriving, high-performance entrepreneurial ecosystem, at least according to the Triangle's resident data scientist and entrepreneurship expert Ted Zoller of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Zoller shared his insights during a presentation Thursday afternoon at the Coastal Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference in Wilmington. He also moderated a panel of angel investors and angel group organizers including Craig Stone of Triangle Angel Partners, Dallas Romanowski of Wilmington's IMAF Cape Fear Angel Fund, Eric Dobson of Angel Capital Group of Tennessee and Ed Miles of Carolina Seed Investor.

According to Zoller's research, a key indicator of a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem with an edge over other cities (and with the recipe above) is one with many dealmakers. These are the serial entrepreneurs and investors who broker information, shape and syndicate deals, and are interconnected within the community. Silicon Valley's key strength is dealmakers a-plenty, Zoller says. The Triangle, meanwhile ranks lowest of 12 key regions he's studied.

While there is a healthy number of entrepreneurs and investors in town compared to other parts of our state, the lack of dealmakers may be a challenge to competing nationally for startups and attention from venture capitalists. Zoller's research shows that in Silicon Valley, 86.6 percent of serial entrepreneurs have one degree of separation to other serial entrepreneurs in the city. In Boston, that figure drops to 56 percent. And in the Triangle, to near 40 percent.

But Zoller's research is meant to inform and inspire. So his key question to the panel focused on capital, was how to make Southern metro networks stack up against those in other dealmaker-heavy cities? And how to get more money into North Carolina companies?

Read the full details at ExitEvent.

(Note: ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire.)

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