This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week, and Innovate Carolina is hosting a series of 11 events to help foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation on campus.
Innovate Carolina, a campuswide initiative, aims to support the curricular and co-curricular entrepreneurial activities of UNC’s faculty, students and graduates, said Sheryl Waddell, the director of the Innovate Carolina Global Network.
Through collaborating with programs such as the Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Shuford Program in Entrepreneurship, Innovate Carolina works to provide UNC students with the mindset and skills they need to enter the workforce. To create UNC’s unique innovative culture, Innovate Carolina also connects students to campus activities and resources such as BeAM@CAROLINA, CUBE and current student ventures or clubs.
“We’re looking to provide resources for them to create companies that will teach them critical problem solving,” Waddell said.
Innovate Carolina is facilitating Global Entrepreneurship Week to advertise innovation opportunities to students no matter where they are in their development process. Sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, Global Entrepreneurship Week is an international initiative consisting of thousands of competitions and events throughout 170 different countries.
At UNC, the week features presentations about developing apps, operating Innovate Carolina’s new Carolina Innovation Platform software, building and improving a team, interning at a start-up company, finding funding and conducting market research.
On Monday, Jeff Terrell, a professor of computer science, gave a presentation called "How to Build Your Killer App." Terrell explained the life cycle of an app, covering app design, development, publishing and maintenance. He concluded his presentation with advice on working with software developers and choosing a programming technology.
“My goal wasn’t to tell them everything they needed to know, but it was to transition them from not knowing what they don’t know to knowing what they don’t know,” Terrell said.
Terrell is also in charge of UNC’s App Lab, a room in Sitterson Hall where people can come collaborate to build web and mobile applications. The App Lab will begin having regular open hours next semester, during which students can ask questions and engage in pair programming. The purpose of the lab is to give students a practical outlet to innovate and learn from people with experience in the software industry, Terrell said.
“Apps are everywhere. They’re really ubiquitous,” Terrell said. “The companies that are learning how to take advantage of software to do their business better and faster and more reliably are the ones that are winning in the market place.”
Another GEW event was a Q&A session on Wednesday with student entrepreneur Anum Imran, co-founder of Traditional Kitchens. A cooperative food business staffed with refugee women, Traditional Kitchens provides its artisans with financial stability and community engagement. In her Q&A, Imran described her journey through social entrepreneurship and how opportunities at UNC, like those offered during GEW, helped her become a student business owner.
“The fact that this exists at Carolina and that students have access to these resources condensed into one week is, I think, going to do a really good job of just setting the stage for some of the biggest ideas that could come out of this campus and this community,” Imran said.
On Thursday, Innovate Carolina will hold an internship meet-and-greet with UNC graduates' startup companies from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Launch Chapel Hill. More than 35 startups will be represented, and students will be given the opportunity to find out what an internship at a startup looks like. University Career Services will also give a tutorial on proper networking before the event begins.
Students can register for the internship meet-and-greet and other GEW events on Innovate Carolina’s website. Beyond Global Entrepreneurship Week, Innovate Carolina offers office hours with entrepreneurs such as Terrell and Imran at the 1789 Venture Lab on Franklin Street for students looking for guidance with their ventures.
Innovate Carolina also recently launched new software called Carolina Innovation Platform, which enables entrepreneurs to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and mentors. Through this software and other advertised opportunities at UNC, Innovate Carolina intends to help students create their own content while being supported by a strong community of innovators.
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