Our biggest thank you…

This year we were fortunate enough to partner with Ventureprise, a venture development organization that offers comprehensive business services for entrepreneurs. Located in the PORTAL building at UNCC, and through the Charlotte Research Institute, they enable early stage growth of high-potential business ventures who are driven by innovation.

They have several initiatives that complement the innovation services they offer. The Charlotte Venture Challenge is a business competition that has launched hundreds of companies who entered in their early stages. Charlotte Venture Launch guides founders through the customer discovery process and helps find ready customers, to see if an idea is worth pursuing. The Innovation Connection gathers constituents interested in specific technology or industry topics. This forum invites participants because of their interest or expertise in the specific topic.

Their involvement in the Charlotte entrepreneurial community is integral to maintaining the level of participation, enthusiasm, and success that we have seen in the region. They are a large collaborator with colleges and universities, capital sources, research and development centers, government agencies, and entrepreneurial support organizations around town, like Packard Place and Queen City Forward (Charlotte Startup Weekend supporters too!).

Needless to say our event would not be as awesome as it is without the support of Ventureprise. Check them out over the weekend and see how you can plug into their awesome entrepreneurial and innovation-driven ecosystem.

We'd like to thank our Sponsors…

After watching the Oscars yesterday, don’t you think about your acceptance speech?Who would be your, “Above all, I’d like to thank…” person? We at Charlotte Startup Weekend have prepared our own Acceptance speech for being awarded the opportunity to put on yet another Charlotte Startup Weekend. It truly doesn’t happen without the support of so many sponsor companies. We would like to thank our sponsors, who all make this event not only possible, but totally awesome!

We have two law firms on our sponsor roll this year. Because, let’s be honest, you can never have too many attorneys in your corner!

Spengler & Agans

We are excited to have Spengler & Agans among our sponsors this year. As a law firm they focus on immigration law and business law. You will also find them at PitchBreakfast at Packard Place on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.

From their website:

Both immigrants and entrepreneurs travel along similar paths—paths leading to a better life through determination and hard work. More people than you might expect follow both paths: Immigrants in the United States are more than twice as likely to start a business as their native-born American counterparts. The distinction between the immigration and business law fades entirely in some instances—such as when an immigrant seeks the necessary documents to work at a domestic company, or when a business owner seeks advice on how to comply with legal hiring regulations. And by focusing our efforts on two practice areas, we are able to provide specialized service to our clients.

Eric and Justin both find great joy in volunteering in the community. Most recently, Eric has been an active volunteer with the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, helping immigrants from war-torn countries. Justin has volunteered with Sustain Charlotte and helped guide a group local students research and present to Charlotte City Council.


Horack Talley

This is their second year as a #CSW sponsor. With 39 attorneys practicing at the firm, they are a real legal powerhouse, so we’re glad they’re on our side. You know, in case we ever end up in court for…something.

Horack Talley as a firm is involved in dozens of local charities and organizations, which shows a clear commitment to developing community in Charlotte. We’re also a fan of their Women’s Initiative, which seeks to promote personal and professional development for the women in their firm (40% of their attorneys are female, BTW. Not too shabby!)

From their website:

Horack Talley offers an 80-year history of legal service to our community, making our firm one of the oldest in the Charlotte region. Since our first client in 1932, our attention has been focused on providing the best value, the highest level of personal service and the sharpest legal advice to our clients.

Horack Talley’s practice groups include community associations, corporate, family law, litigation, real estate, and personal wealth services. Our vision has long been to grow targeted practice groups with concentrations in core areas of the law.

The firm strives to anticipate the needs of our current and potential clients. We expand to new practice areas selectively, while maintaining the tradition of excellent client service people have come to expect from Horack Talley. Visit our Practices page for more information on our practice groups and the fields of law in which we focus.

Tech Talent South

Just named one of the top 30 coding bootcamps in the world by Switchup, Tech Talent South is making a name for itself around the globe and particularly in Charlotte. Co-founders Betsy Hauser Idilbi and Richard Simms met at an immersive coding program in Chicago, and brought their magic to the South. TTS serves Charlotte, as well as Atlanta, Asheville, Dallas, New Orleans, and The Triangle. One of our lucky winners will receive a full scholarship to a Tech Talent South course, and their team members will receive a partial scholarship.

From their website:

We provide access to networking opportunities, educational events, cutting edge companies, and local entrepreneurs. Our supportive, non-intimidating, and collaborative community is filled with passionate, like-minded students on their way to doing great things. Along the way, you’ll get the mentoring you need from local professionals in relevant fields and the Tech Talent South staff.

Have a great idea for the next big thing? Haven’t known how to start? This is when the sketching begins. The design process never begins in front of the computer. Tech Talent South will teach you how to map out and execute a plan, taking your idea all the way from inception to launch.

We teach you all the languages and skills you’ll need to turn your idea into a reality. From domain modeling to database management, we’ll show you the back-end of web application development. And, of course, it has to look pretty. We’ll show you the tricks of front-end design in order to create a great user experience.

Ship your MVP (minimum viable product) to the web, get feedback, refine and iterate. Get additional web application users on board, practice your pitch, and start your business…the sky is the limit!

Binary Ventures

What doesn’t Binary Ventures do for your company? They’ll take your business from idea to growing company and help every step along the way.

They categorize the experience into 3 phases:

Create.  They will help you flesh out your idea, helping with any pivoting or re-direction you need. You’ll get honest feedback, helpful suggestions, and expert advice. They’re not going to let you build a bad company.

Launch. Their developer staff will then work with these ideas to build you a top-notch product. And in a timely manner, so you’re ready to launch when you need to!

Grow. It doesn’t stop there. You will receive marketing solutions, technical support, and continued mentoring to make sure you’re off in the right direction.

Steve Nolan and Christy Harner, the co-founders of Binary Ventures, will become two of your favorite people after meeting them. Christy is returning as one of our mentors on Saturday, and will be kicking off our Saturday workshops with a session on Branding. She’s incredible. Steve knows what’s up. As one of your judges this year, his expertise will be a huge asset in evaluating the viability, marketability, and value in each of our demo-ing businesses.

Skookum Digital Works

Michael Jordan looks up to them. From his roof. That pretty much says it all about Skookum Digital Works, one of Charlotte’s best firms for Innovation, IT, and Technology solutions for your company. They look at the big picture and solve the problems to affect change now for your company.

Just Fresh

Just Fresh provides delicious, fresh food consistent with today’s healthier lifestyle. With locations in uptown and South Charlotte, they are a convenient option for breakfast or lunch. Just Fresh is providing us a deliciously fresh breakfast on Saturday that will start our attendees on the right track for a productive work day.

We’d also like to give a shout out to Coca Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated for their donation of beverages for the weekend. Keeping our attendees caffeinated and hydrated is an important job, and we’re so thankful for their help!

We are so grateful that so many companies see value in this awesome community and events like ours that hope to expand and promote that community to a wider audience.

We hear our wrap-up music starting to play, so we’ll finish here. We’re looking forward to seeing you at Charlotte Startup Weekend 7!

Be Good&Smart at Charlotte Startup Weekend 7

We have a special treat (and great service) for our CSW7 attendees this year: A pop-up agency dedicated to all things branding for your new business. Start out on the right foot and take advantage of their expertise!

This pop-up agency will assist our teams with branding their ideas through counsel and recommendations. Our talented Good&Smart ladies will help them develop their unique story, establish a digital presence, and advise on final pitch strategies.

Come by the Command Center on Saturday from 10am-4pm (location at UNCC Center City will be announced Friday evening and Saturday morning) to get coaching on all aspects of branding, social media, public speaking, and communications to various startup teams.

Featured Small Businesses:

● Jenifer Daniels, APR, founder and CEO of Good&Smart, helps brands use data, marketing, and digital to tell their stories. She also serves as adjunct faculty at UNC Charlotte’s Department of Communication Studies. In 2014, Jenifer launched #GoodCamp – an innovative unconference advancing effective communications for nonprofits. Jenifer is a New Leaders Council Fellow, board chair emeritus of Sustain Charlotte, and a TEDx Talker.

● Brandi Williams. beawilliams.com, helps companies align their corporate social responsibility programs with business goals for profit gain and to push social change.

● Denada Jackson, Bella Boca PR encourages all brands to Be HEARD! Through media relations, social media and other public relations strategies, Bella Boca wants to build a communication plan that will help businesses achieve set goals and reach target audiences to grow brands.

● Jameka Whitten, With dual operations in both Charlotte, North Carolina and New York City, JSW Media Group is a boutique public relations and marketing firm making quite a splash on the east coast independent entertainment scene. JSW Media boasts a wide range of services, which includes everything from artist publicity and event planning to image consulting and brand management. We are a full service brand management firm.

● Maya Elious, helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs earn more money in their business through consulting and effective web design and branding.

● Davida Jackson, Called2Connect specializes in bringing all aspects of your online presence together to promote YOU. We dazzle by delivering results through solid social media strategies, SEO, and innovation to strengthen your brand and boost your bottom line.


Saturday Workshops

At Charlotte Startup Weekend 6 we offered our attendees five workshops on Saturday that address various topics related to entrepreneurship and startups. They were a huge success, thanks to our great presenters. We are happy to announce that Saturday Workshops are back this year, and we’ve got a new selection of sessions, as well as some very popular repeat sessions.

We are still finalizing the exact schedule, but here is a list of options for the afternoon.

Creating the Foundation for a Brand by Christy Harner (Binary Ventures)

Organizing a Business Website with WordPress (or any system) by Brett Bumeter (Softduit Media)

Bootstrap by Zack Kirchin (Tech Talent South)

Lighting Up Your Idea by Paul Schottland (FireEye, Inc.)

Pitching 101 by Juan Garzón (Garzón Co.)

Plan to attend one, two, or all of the sessions on Saturday to give your brain a rest from building your business. You will definitely learn something that will help your team build a better business.

5 Ways Effective Branding Helps Startups

This is our first post in our guest blog series How to Startup. This post was written by SeQuoya Addison, the Communication Projects Intern at Good&Smart. Good&Smart will be hosting a PopUp Agency at Charlotte Startup Weekend to help teams with all things branding! Look for more information soon on who they are and how they can help you!

Effective Branding_GS_CSW_Blog Image

You have a business, great! Your business has a logo, great! You have a brand, well not just yet. Branding is more than just a company name and logo. A lot of work goes into forming a brand. Branding is a strategic process that builds awareness and extends customer loyalty. Branding is about creating the experience that makes it easy for people to choose your company over another.

Can someone tell your company apart from the rest? When you hand someone your business card (because you have a business card, right?) are you proud or embarrassed? What does your business believe in? Do you have loyal customers who love you and share your business with others? Does your business offer something unique that others can’t do as well or easily?

We want you to be able to answer all of these questions. In order to do this, you must have a firm idea on how you plan to build your brand. I will talk about 5 ways effective branding helps startups, and they are:

1.Brand Recognition

Visual branding is important. This is where your logo, colors, font, and styles come in. When someone sees the soft blue and yellow associated with Good&Smart, they can immediately reference us in their mind. If you see the Golden Arches, you know without even seeing a name, that McDonald’s is nearby.

2. Professionalism

As a business of any kind, no matter how relaxed your services or products may be, there are still certain times when it is appropriate to have professionalism. Not only will being seen as a professional business help your reputation, but also will help you get taken seriously. When you leave people with good first impressions that you’re prepared, honest, and consistent, it will make trusting you and your services easier.

3. What is your story?

Are you a company that gives 51% of all proceeds to an organization or charity of choice? Maybe you’re passionate about providing services for women. Every brand has a story, and yours should be told. People connect with stories, and they will see your business as more than just that – but something personal, that they share values and connections with.

4. Goodwill

A strong brand with great visual representation, customer service, and an impactful mission will ultimately attract loyal customers. When you have customers who love you and what you do, they will be more than willing to share your business with others without you having to ask. Word-of-mouth is the most influential and trusted tool of marketing, and who better for it to come from than your own clients?

5. Differentiation

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you can modify it, and make it unique to your company. What sets you apart from other companies that offer similar services or products that you do? Why would someone recommend your company over someone else’s? Brands need to demonstrate their difference and make it easy for people to understand it. If your brand were to suddenly disappear, would anyone miss it?

Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About

It’s time to stand out from the rest in the crowd (your competitors) and make an impact! It’s time to tell your story, and have it shared everywhere. It’s time to take pride in your brand, knowing Good&Smart brings together data, marketing, and digital together to tell your brand stories.

Based in Charlotte, NC, we offer a holistic approach to brand development in today’s fast paced environment. Good&Smart specializes in research, big data, content marketing, digital storytelling, and measurement.

Visit the Good&Smart Pop-up agency at Charlotte Startup Weekend on February 28 from 10am-4pm. We will provide brief consults and answers questions to help you build the brand you desire!

Keep up with us!

begoodandsmart.com | info@begoodandsmart.com | 704.360.0145 | @begoodandsmart 

3 Weeks to Charlotte Starup Weekend SEVEN!

Lucky Number 7

We are getting to kick off our SEVENTH Startup Weekend in Charlotte!  We want to invite you to come and check it out, participate and soak up the good vibes, fun, great experiences and food and drink that come with a Startup Weekend.

So don’t save the date, Sign up now.  The majority of our attendees sign up for Startup Weekend in the final couple weeks before the event.  So leave this tab open, check your calendar and sign up!

With Big Events Come Big Responsibilities and Big Venues
Our team has been working hard to put on a great event and its almost time.  This year we are moving to a new location.  We have had some great times and experiences at Packard Place over the previous five Startup Weekend events.  Packard Place is still involved and supportive as ever.  This year we are holding the event at UNCC City Center on 9th Street in Charlotte.

We are excited to be in a larger venue and bring this event to UNCC as well.  We will have some great resources on site and hope that this will help you have the most successful experience possible.

Catalyst for Charlotte Startups

Its February and spring is just around the corner, and there’s no better way to kick off warmer weather and brighten your day than by working with an eager group of people creating a new business startup.  Startup Weekend can be so many things for our attendees:

  • You can test your pitch and build your speaking skills
  • You can meet great people.  This is beyond networking and socializing and sharing business cards.  This is getting to know people and what they can do!
  • You can show off your skills.  Startup Weekend is a great place to show people your mojo in action.  If you are feeling a little stuck in your career or current business or just not sure how you might fit on a team, working with a team over a weekend to build a business is a great way to show what you can do, build confidence, and come away knowing that you can do this thing!
  • Food and drink are included.  Sure you can go out to eat this weekend, but you can’t do that and learn something new, start something great, meet some amazing people, all of these things at the same time.  We bring you the food so that you can stay put and live in the moment.
  • Learn something new in a session.  We may or may not be unique, but last year we started offering a few sessions on Saturday.  We brought in some great people with experience in Startups to help give our attendees some additional perspectives.
  • Mentors, mentors, and more mentors.  We always bring in a large number of mentors to our event.  Whether you are looking for legal advice, fund raising wisdom, guidance on coding or some creative graphic designs, we bring lots of people in every year, just to help.
  • This isn’t a conference.  This is an experience!  Our attendees show up, get to know each other a little and then we dive right in and have fun.  We kick things off with business pitches, then we vote up the best ideas that night, group off into business teams to build business around those businesses, and get to work.  And that’s just Friday! All weekend, late into the night our teams aren’t burning the midnight oil, they are cranking out some amazing ideas and turning them into reality, business planning, logo designing, performing marketing research on the streets of Charlotte and the internet, coding and coding and testing and compiling and coding some more, and getting ready for that final presentation on Sunday to showcase what they have been able to do.
  • New to the whole startup idea, or new to Startup Weekend? Well not to discourage you from participating, there is no better way to learn how to swim than jumping in the water, but if you just want to check it out, we have passes to watch the pitches Friday night and see the final Presentations Sunday evening.
  • Lots of great things you can get out of Startup Weekend, but the experience you will have, the people you will meet and really get to know, this is where the gold is.  These might become your future business partners, or they might hire you for a future job, mentor your way up the ladder, become a close friend, or be the person that you hire into your own company to save the day, because you KNOW what they can do.  You’ve seen it, you know it, you can trust them, because you grew together over a weekend of hard work one February weekend.
  • Oh, and maybe you will found the next big company in Charlotte!

We had a great event last year, and if you want to see what things look like, get a taste for Startup Weekend, check out the winning presentation and all of the pitches from #CSW6.  Who knows, maybe one of those pitches will help give you an idea for this year, maybe they’ll show you how to get your pitch on the wall, voted up and in front of the judges on Sunday!

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