Anyone reviewing the lineup for the annual venture capital conference put on by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development will discover the growing spread and strength of startups and emerging companies from (almost) Manteo to Murphy.

Entrepreneurship in technology, life science, manufacturing and more provides an economic development tool that promises to spread the wealth to ALL parts of the state. Technology such as rapidly spreading broadband puts tools at the hands of dreamers to build successful businesses. And the CED selections reflect the fact that the potential of tech has been embraced as North Carolinians (plus entrepreneurs and investors moving here) continue to transition from traditional tobacco, furniture and agriculture to the Internet of All Things (light bulbs to ecommerce to education and entertainment everywhere) as well as the new high-tech tobacco (drug development), high-tech furniture (advanced manufacturing) and high-tech agriculture (ag bio).

It will be extremely interesting to see what impact crowdfunding will have (now that the General Assembly has finally passed the legislation) on the startup sector as more companies can reach to more people to raise capital for their dream building.

An evolving odyssey

For those of us who have been involved with North Carolina startups the past 20 years or so, this story angle is not necessarily new. But it’s one that keeps changing as the “occasional” startup successes in the mountains or on the coast become much more common.

Most outsiders tend to focus on the Triangle, followed by Charlotte and the Triad. But Wilmington and Asheville have become hotbeds as entrepreneurs find resources (broadband, community support, financing, talent) are more readily available.

And as the second quarter venture capital report from the National Venture Capital Association and PricewaterhouseCoopers clearly demonstrated, North Carolina tech is no longer a Triangle dominated story.

Recent funding of startups by the NC IDEA Foundation also continues to show a broader reach across the state as more companies NOT in the Triangle cash in on $50,000 grants.

Spreading the wealth

The latest ammunition to support the view that the tech startup wealth is spreading beyond the major metros is the list of presenting companies the CED announced Thursday.

The CED says it received a “record-breaking number of applications” to present. That’s not surprising, given the fact that the number of startups is exploding. But after reviewing the applications, the CED decided to not only put “spotlight” companies on stage for direct, in-depth presentations to potential investors but to add a “lightning round” for brief presentations.

And the demo room will be packed with another 70 companies hoping to land new business, partners – and dollars.

From “A” to “W,” the CED selected companies from:

  • Apex
  • Asheville
  • Cary
  • Chapel Hill
  • Charlotte
  • Durham
  • Garner
  • Greensboro
  • Hillsborough
  • Holly Springs
  • Huntersville
  • Lewisville
  • McLeansville
  • Morrisville
  • Pittsboro
  • Raleigh
  • RTP
  • Swansboro
  • Wilmington
  • Winston-Salem
  • Wrightsville Beach

“This year’s selected companies represent our robust entrepreneurial community from early-stage, to emerging growth, to companies with significant traction,” said CED’s Jay Bigelow in the announcement. “By showcasing this spectrum of company stages, the conference attracts over 100 investors with diverse investment criteria, allowing us to match companies with investors at all stages.”

That “diversity” also includes geography – and that’s something in which any North Carolina resident can take pride in while also getting a boost in hope for a better future.

From Manteo to Murphy.