2014 has been a great year for the Wilmington startup and entrepreneurial community. There’s more momentum, activity and sense of community than at any point in my 10+ years in the area. And so I took the challenge the recap our community’s biggest year yet. Check it out below, and let us know what you’re excited about for Wilmington’s new year.
2014: Wilmington Proved It’s a Town for Tourists And Startups
• Next Glass
Next Glass built buzz all year for its scientific wine and beer recommendation app. The startup finally delivered on that buzz when it launched the app on November 20th. In a little over a month, 240,000 users had downloaded the app. This shattered the expectations of both Next Glass’s team and investors. For 2015, it will be interesting to see how the product evolves and the team approaches monetization and/or exit strategies. Also, how that continued progress will draw attention to Wilmington.
• UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE)
Next Glass was an early tenant of the CIE’s co-working space, which celebrated its year anniversary in September. The UNCW CIE has grown in influence under Jim Robert’s leadership. The previous iteration of the CIE, the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center, was a great local secret but was not as visible across the state. The CIE surpassed 33 startups in its space this year, and it will be interesting to see how they all play out in 2015.
• Wilmington Investor Network (WIN) and Cape Fear Inception Micro Angel Fund (IMAF) Joint Pitch Meetings.
In 2014, WIN and Cape Fear IMAF, Wilmington’s two angel investment groups, combined their startup pitch meetings. This is a big deal for local startups—if they get in front of one group they are in front of the other. While the groups are very different—WIN makes investments at the individual angel level and IMAF operates as a fund—having them in a loose partnership can provide better funding opportunities for startups. This combination should continue to benefit startups in 2015.
• The Unseen.
There are several startups that have yet to make it on the radar, want to stay off the radar for a little while longer, or are about to pop up. The number of these companies is greater than at any point in the past. It will be interesting to see which rise to the top as 2015 progresses.
All the hard work by countless individuals has collectively paid off this year, evidenced by the list above. And they’ll continue to pay dividends in 2015. Those of us that take part in the Wilmington startup community are really looking forward to a great 2015.