Something Special Happened in Charlotte Last Week

May 19, 2014

by Marilyn Carpenter, Director of Venture Development | UNC Charlotte Ventureprise

“Re-imagine young black men as a new class of entrepreneurs, capable of great things – helping in our country’s economic recovery.” Henry Rock, Founder City Startup Labs

When Henry Rock asked his TEDx Charlotte audience to re-imagine the impact that young black men could have on our economic recovery, he was also making a compelling plea to young black men to believe in the transformative power that entrepreneurship could bring to them, their lives and their families.

Pictured above is Henry Rock (front, center) with the first City Startup Labs graduating class!

Participating as a judge for the first City Startup Labs Pitch night was like no other Pitch event I have experienced.  As a working participant in Charlotte’s entrepreneur ecosystem, my oft- stated rock-principle for new founders who make the move to startup a company to shape and see their idea come to commercial life is simple, but hard to grasp for some

“Love the problems you solve more than you love your idea.” 

City Startup Labs graduates, now entrepreneurs, embody this principle.  All of the pitches I listened to were passionately connected with a social situation that the CSL graduate was addressing head on with their business idea.  Magic happens in this pitch environment – there are no bad ideas.  None.  Each business idea is aimed at helping a group of people struggling with an issue, waiting to bust out and contribute to a community, or use a startup idea to improve life for people.  You just knew these young men would move forward whether they won the Pitch prize or not.

I could continue with this post to talk about how vital classroom learning, best entrepreneurial practices and incubation opportunity are for entrepreneurs.  They certainly are vital and Henry Rock and his team/sponsors delivered.

But this rock-principle extends to the soul of an idea that becomes a company.  It’s hard to teach this – and these young men showed up, teaching us all by modeling the way.

P.S.  Congratulations to the Grand Prize winner Jarron Thomas with JUMP. And congratulations to all the graduates and Pitch participants of City Startup Labs!

Jarron Thomas – CSL BizPlan Pitch & Competition Winner receiving a $15,000 check from Rod Banks, Wells Fargo Bank VP [Wells was the event & prize sponsor]

See more at: http://ventureprise.org/blog/something-special-happened-in-charlotte-last-week/#sthash.9lXiVVxs.dpuf