The best way to characterize the Coastal Connect Conference at the Coastline Conference and Event Center in Wilmington on Thursday, Sept. 4, is as a one-day venture conference similar to the CED’s in the Research Triangle.

“It’s an entrepreneur – venture capital event,” says Jim Roberts, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW).

It’s also something of a birthday party with a reception the evening prior to the event to celebrate the opening of the Center’s facility a year ago.

The event itself opens with remarks by Roberts followed by a “Riverside Chat,” with Hugh Forrest of SXSW Interactve and Laura Baverman of Exit Event and USA Today. Forrest, named by Time Magazine as one of the game changers in the Tech industry, is from Austin, which, like Raleigh, is famous for acquiring national “Best of” awards.

“We have an ocean and a river,” says Roberts. “He can help us think about how we can use those assets to attract more entrepreneurs and startups.”

The event includes the RocketPitch, a long-time feature of the CIE that has launched most entrepreneurs who evolved in the Wilmington and Coastal region, Roberts said.

This year, four startups will pitch. They are:

  • Karl Ricanek – Face My Age (Read WRAL TechWire report)
  • Charles Davis – Easy Vote (Recently competed in Washington, DC pitch competition and Coastal Entrepreneur Award Winner)
  • Brendan Collins – MimiJumi
  • Next Glass – NCTA Best Emerging Company of the Year in NC.

In the morning three breakout sessions run concurrently at 10:15, on topics including “Successful Talent Under the Radar in and from Our Own Backyard, and three more at 11:15, including “Crazy Enough It Just May Work.”

Following a lunch panel, at 1:30 Deal Makers Interested in Coastal North Carolina includes:

  • Moderator – Ted Zoller – UNC Chapel Hill, Director, Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, leader behind DealMaker, big data on finding risk tolerant investors in regions
  • Eric Dobson, Angel Capital Group, Tennessee
  • Dallas Romanowski, Cape Fear IMAF
  • Ed Miles, Carolina Seed Investor
  • Craig Stone, Triangle Angel Partners