By Will Doran
The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.).
A new program aims to connect budding entrepreneurs of all ages with established professionals in areas such as accounting, graphic design, web design, law, marketing and consulting.
InnovateF-V, hosted by the Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce, kicked off in late August. It will hold regular meetings for participants, with speakers and networking sessions, until culminating with a weekend-long event in January.
James Wong, a marketing and IT professional who also runs the Fuquay Coworking space, is heading up InnovateF-V.
Whether someone has a dream of building a mobile app, opening a cupcake shop or starting a new charity, he or she can bring that idea through InnovateF-V.
Organizers are hoping to attract 100 to 150 entrepreneurs, business professionals, mentors and other interested participants.
The program is open to non-residents, though organizers hope to find ideas that will benefit the local area.
The first of the monthly meetings is Wednesday, Sept. 9. The next one is Oct. 6, and they continue until Feb. 23.
The highlight, though, is a weekend retreat from Jan. 8-10 in which the ideas for startups and inventions will be finalized.
People can sign up to join the program at any time. However, organizers suggest joining soon to take advantage of all of the programs, as well as early-bird discounts on the registration fee.
Until Nov. 1, entry costs $40, or $30 for teenagers, college students and graduate students.
“For these students, a lot of it’s going to be just seeing how businesses start,” Wong said. “Or they could have ideas about an invention or an app.”
The end goal
During the January weekend, participants will gather for a friendlier, more community-oriented version of the TV show, “Shark Tank.”
The first day, Friday, each entrepreneur will make a short pitch for his or her idea. Through the rest of Friday and Saturday, the professionals in the audience will be pitching their own services to the entrepreneurs they liked.