“I haven’t started studying my Spanish vocab yet,” Max Alway-Townsend said with a chuckle, referring to his unfinished homework.
The senior at East Chapel Hill High School pitched his startup, Jobalo, to a room full of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs on Wednesday at this year’s CED Tech Venture Conference in downtown Raleigh.
The annual conference brings together top entrepreneurs and investors from across the state, attempting to connect founders with the capital needed to grow. The conference was held at the Raleigh Convention Center.
“It is the biggest celebration of entrepreneurship in North Carolina every year,” Alway-Townsend said.
“It makes me proud because this region is growing so quickly with entrepreneurship, funding, new inventions and companies,” he continued, “it’s really great to be able to see that once a year.”
- PROFILE: Read WRAL TechWire’s profile on Joablo
Alway-Townsend presented in the conference’s “lightning round” where he received two minutes to pitch his company to investors and fellow entrepreneurs without using slides or visuals.
Jobalo is an online platform designed to connect high school and college students with part-time work and volunteer opportunities.
U.S youth unemployment – age 16-24 – hit 8.9 percent in August, more than double the national unemployment rate of adults, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The opportunity to present in front of potential investors and partners was essential for Alway-Townsend, who aims to begin another seed-round of fundraising within the next six to eight months.
The 15-month-old startup raised $70,000 during its first round of funding in April.
Josh Haymond – partner at Vaco, a talent solutions firm in Raleigh – admired Alway-Townsend’s presentation, saying he believes Jobalo has the potential to be a high-impact company.
“Providing the conduit for students to access positions, and for companies to access top emerging talent, is crucial,” Haymond said.
“I hope people in attendance did not view Max as simply a cool story,” he continued. “The product has legs.”
The company has legs, too.
Jobalo joined Launch Chapel Hill’s eighth cohort in July. The 22-week accelerator program aims to increase the growth potential of early stage ventures by providing workspace and mentorship to founders.
Scott Albert, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Launch, meets with Alway-Townsend biweekly to offer his guidance and expertise. Albert admires Alway-Townsend’s maturity and entrepreneurial spirit.
“He has set lofty goals for himself in terms of trying to make Jobalo a successful business,” said Albert, “we’re working with him to try to move the ball forward.”
Alway-Townsend is working to expand Jobalo from Chapel Hill and Durham to Raleigh as soon as possible, and he hopes to be expanding into large cities such as Boston, New York and Baltimore by the end of 2018.
“We want to be nationwide,” Alway-Townsend concluded, “so we’re looking at markets to expand to.”
Note: This story is from the North Carolina Business News Wire, a service of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism