Jim Roberts, who has been a livewire sparking entrepreneurial development in every section of North Carolina, is forming two new organizations to boost the Wilmington startup ecosystem. One is NEW, “Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington,” and the other, WALE the “Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs.”
Recently profiled on the Nashville Post site, Southern/alpha, which called him “North Carolina’s biggest startup advocate,” Roberts started his first networking organization for startups in Charlotte called FirstRound back during the Internet boom at the start of the century. Then he moved to Asheville, where he helped launch the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council through AdvantageWest and was there five years.
In the Research Triangle, Roberts worked with the NC Dept. of Commerce in the International Trade Division, and the NC Biotechnology Center for its Center of Innovation for Nanobiotechnology.
“In all of these stops, I have been a relentless networker and relationship builder where I have tried to deliver value to the other connections first,” Roberts told Southern/alpha. He landed in Wilmington when the University of NC at Wilmington asked him to rebuild its Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which landed a $100,000 grant from the SBA during his tenure and by the time he left had a full accelerator with 42 companies.
After leaving the Center, Roberts began organizing Wilmington events at the Ironclad Brewery that drew more than 100 people each as investors and entrepreneurs connected. “We needed to formalize that into something people can sponsor,” Roberts tells WRAL TechWire. He has already lined up two sponsors for NEW, an accountant and a patent lawyer.
WALE, the angel group, is not a fund and not intended to compete with the established Wilmington Investor Network (WIN), Roberts notes. The idea is to filter the best area deals and funnel them to investors and investor networks, including WIN.
Roberts adds that WALE already has a relationship with a Southeast group of angel 12 investor networks who will get a chance to see deals in which “Our guys put in at least $50,000,” Roberts says.
On the web: http://southernalpha.com/wilmingtons-biggest-startup-advocate/