The name, Social Venture Chapel Hill, is a bit of a play on words.
The new monthly networking event is in Chapel Hill, yes, but it isn’t meant for just social entrepreneurs. Everyone is welcome. It’s not for social media people either. It really is for everyone, said co-founder Julian Wooten.
SVCH will launch 6-8 p.m., Sept. 13 at Top of the Hill with 230 expected attendees. As of Wednesday night, Julian said, just four tickets remained. The event is free. (Registration available here.)
The event is meant to fulfill the need for community among Chapel Hill entrepreneurs, Julian said, for this kind of all-inclusive event. In Durham, there is ExitEvent. In Raleigh, there is the most recent addition for purpose-driven entrepreneurs, Hub Raleigh.
In Chapel Hill, Julian said, SVCH would be the first of its kind of monthly networking event.
Which, when I heard that, my sincere reaction was: Really? Huh.
Hub Raleigh is expanding my understanding of how the Raleigh business community works. But Chapel Hill is still a mystery.
There are nooks and crannies in Chapel Hill and Carrboro that have given birth to some pretty interesting businesses. iContact got its start on top of the Qdoba restaurant. Nourish International and Sweeps are in the Franklin Business Center, located at the Harry Potter-esque address of 133 1/2 E. Franklin St.
Otherwise, the personality of Chapel Hill’s business community has been difficult to pin down. How much has Franklin Street morphed in the past decade, in the past two decades? There are many small businesses on Franklin Street. But in recent years, as a result of legal fights with distant landlords, declining revenue during the recession and other factors, many of them had closed.
So, what is the heart and soul of the Chapel Hill business community? Durham has tech as a theme. Raleigh has engineering. What is Chapel Hill’s constant?
Julian is a tech entrepreneur. A UNC alum, he is founder and CEO of STENCIL, short for Students and Teachers Employing New Criteria in Learning. The company makes software, also named STENCIL, that helps teachers manage student data and track academic growth. Fellow SVCH co-founder Scott Kleist is also a UNC alum and tech entrepreneur, CEO of Gift Boogle, a social media analytics-driven gift recommendation service.
Some words from Julian on what is Chapel Hill and the niche SVCH will fill:
In Durham, you have the American Tobacco Campus, which has built-in services you can take advantage of there. Raleigh is the capital and you have that as an entrepreneurial backdrop. Durham and Raleigh are also close to one another, and Chapel Hill is by itself. A lot of the things entrepreneurs can enjoy, we don’t have it yet. I’m the first network event we have. We’re just now getting an incubator.
Having these things (the incubator, a networking event) makes it easier for people to be entrepreneurs. They bring down the energy needed to start something. I think it’s important to make it as easy as possible for people to start their own ventures.
A unique advantage (for Chapel Hill) is we have a very strong business school, which has institutional knowledge and resources for students. Also, to have the (Carolina Challenge) entrepreneurship competition, you see promising startups form every year.
Although SVCH is for everyone, Julian said he does expect to see many social enterprises at the event, reflective of UNC and Chapel Hill/Carrboro’s social emphasis.