The Entrepreneurship Incubator at UNC-Pembroke graduated its first business – a federal contractor called Lumbee Tribe Enterprises, LLC, Sept. 14.
The incubator, housed in the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship, is designed to provide startup clients access to the resources and expertise offered at UNCP and the local area. UNCP students can also get hands-on learning experiences through internships and other learning opportunities at the center, a university press release said.
“It provided an opportunity to network with other companies that were in the incubator, and then you have the UNCP leadership that would talk to you in general about entrepreneurship and what starting a business is all about and what the incubator could do to help,” said Ron Oxendine, chief operating officer of LTE.
Ted Zoller, an entrepreneurship professor in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, said there is a similar program at UNC called LAUNCH Chapel Hill that helps students accelerate business growth.
“We have an accelerator that’s ranked in the top four in the United States,” he said. “It gives an opportunity for students to engage directly with regional businesses that are both starting and scaling so that they can learn the principles of executing entrepreneurial businesses.”
Zoller said entrepreneurs who have started a business in the past are a good resource for students in the accelerator and can help them avoid common mistakes that slow growth.
“By working together as a network, they’re able to insulate the business from a lot of outside risk by helping them avoid potential pitfalls,” he said. “They ask the tough questions — they’re prepared to understand the business risks and to give real world assessments to the founders.”
Oxendine said the incubator gave the company a head start.
“It helps you with a network and it gives you lots of opportunities to interface with other companies — and in our particular business, networking is a big key,” he said.