The NC State Alumni Entrepreneurs believes in the power of collaboration. Alumni entrepreneurs have a wealth of knowledge to share with existing entrepreneurs and the university itself, including its students, faculty and staff.
Think of the entrepreneur community as a diverse ecosystem made up of countless moving parts. To thrive, each part needs to function optimally in order to sustain the other ones. NC State alumni entrepreneurs have built vastly different businesses in industries ranging from technology to fashion, but share a similar bond – they have positively influenced our state, country and the world. Learning about the successes – and challenges – that these entrepreneurs have encountered in their startups and small businesses can only build a stronger ecosystem.
The best knowledge comes from being shared. The NC State Alumni Entrepreneurs helps by building connections for those seeking answers about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
The NC State Alumni Entrepreneurs is an organization for current entrepreneurs, new business founders and the university community. We connect alumni entrepreneurs with each other to share knowledge and support NC State in becoming a premier university for entrepreneurship.
The Alumni Entrepreneurs got its start in 2014, when NC State graduate Chad Myers contacted the university about creating a forum for entrepreneurs to discuss their experiences and develop ways to share them with the university.
Working with the Alumni Association, the Entrepreneur Initiative and the Office of Technology Commercialization and New Ventures, the Alumni Entrepreneurs offers events and programming throughout the year to highlight the business achievements of our graduates and encourage further growth in North Carolina and beyond.
The Alumni Entrepreneurs works exclusively with NC State alumni to build relationships and share resources. Our focus is on providing several opportunities to our members, including:
- Networking with other alumni entrepreneurs, university representatives and students
- Access to funding resources
- Access to mentors/advisors
- Access to talent for possible hires or investment
We host roughly 6-10 special events throughout the year, ranging from informal happy hours to our entrepreneurial showcase, which brings alumni entrepreneurs together under one roof to discuss their businesses and products.
Our committee is comprised of 10 members, some of whom are seasoned
alumni entrepreneurs and others who support NC State’s key programs for
Current Chair: Carol Vercellino, CEO of Oak City Labs
Past Chair: Matthew Davis, Vice President of Marketing and Co-Founder of Reveal Mobile
Hersh Tapadia, Co-founder and CEO of Allstacks
Josh Hawn, Vice President of Opulent Americas
Chad Myers, CEO of Lexercise
Aaron Daeke, Mechanical Engineer at Jacobs
Tom Miller, Senior Vice Provost and Executive Director for NC State Entrepreneur Initiative
Megan Greer, Director of Outreach and Communications for NC State Entrepreneur Initiative
Tim O’Connell, NC State Alumni Association
Wade Fulghum, NC State Office of Technology Commercialization and New Ventures
NC State alumni have gone on to become innovative entrepreneurs across disciplines. Here is a sampling of just a few of the notable companies begun by university graduates.
Founded in 1987 by six NC State engineering students, Cree is a global company that produced the first commercialized LED blue light. It has since become a leading producer of lighting-class LEDs, LED lighting and semiconductor technologies for wireless and power applications.
Developed as a tool to reduce the risk of date rape, Undercover Colors are nail polishes that detect the presence of common date rape drugs at the dip of a finger.
Lexercise provides online therapy to children with dyslexia, dysgraphia and other reading and writing problems. Children are connected with trained literacy experts who guide them through a language curriculum once a week and provide games and feedback to parents.
Founder of several startups, including ChannelAdvisor and Spiffy, Inc. ChannelAdvisor provides software support to major e-commerce retailers such as Amazon and eBay, and Spiffy provides on-demand car washing and detailing services at airports in Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Makers of biometric health and fitness technology that can be integrated into wearable and hearable equipment to measure vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate and blood oxygen levels. Valencell products can be found in consumer electronics made by Bose, Samsung, Sony and LG, among others.
Started in 2015, Locus is a biotechnology company focused on discovering treatments to fight infectious diseases by causing parts of the immune systems in bacteria to self-destruct.
A free app available on iPhone and Android devices, WedPics is a photo-sharing tool that allows wedding guests to share videos and pictures of the big day in a personalized album.
Billing itself as the “One Stop Sorority Shop,” Frill provides custom apparel to sororities, both in the U.S. and internationally. It also offers a made-to-order bridal collection.
Founded by three State alumni-siblings, Olly Oxen is a fashion company that began by creating collegiate apparel and accessories. It now has collections celebrating state pride and Americana-related designs.
Aiming to increase safety for cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists, Lumenus is the maker of smart clothing and wearables embedded with LED lighting. When paired with the Lumenus app and GPS, the lights can be configured to indicate when the user is turning, braking or approaching intersections.
Based in Raleigh, Tethis has expanded on technology discovered at NC State to create super absorbent powders made of cornstarch. The biodegradable performance polymers can be used in industrial and consumer applications ranging from soil stabilization to diapers.
With offices in Durham and San Francisco, ndustrial.io helps companies increase energy efficiency through software and analytics.
Founded in 2006 and in partnership with NC State scientists, Aseptia focuses on creating technologies to improve the preservation of foods without additives or refrigeration.
Based on the premise that the best employees come from trusted recommendations, EmployUs is a mobile app that connects employers to job seekers through referrals. Companies using the app agree to pay cash bonuses to anyone who successfully refers a candidate to the job.
Inviting people to enjoy all that their cities have to offer, Offline is a free mobile app that curates content about events and happenings in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Nashville, Tenn.
Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck
The 2015 winner of the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, Pho Nomenal Dumpling is a food truck preparing Asian-fusion dishes from scratch, including the popular Vietnamese pho and pan-fried dumplings. NC State alum Sunny Lin is one of Pho Nomenal’s founders.
Founded in 1999, Sity Communications is a leading provider of network telecommunications infrastructure equipment and services. It provides new, surplus and quality-tested refurbished telecommunication equipment at discount prices.
Alumni Entrepreneur hosts:
- 6-10 events throughout the year in Raleigh
- Each event draws 60-100 attendees
- 300 LinkedIn Members
- 500+ Email Distribution Newsletter
Our partnership with the Alumni Association and Entrepreneurship Initiative means that our message reaches their members, too.
Alumni Association: 30,000 email list; 11,000 Twitter followers; 45,000 Facebook fans
Entrepreneurship Initiative: 1,400 Twitter followers; 1,900 Facebook fans
A typical event includes:
- One-on-one networking opportunities
- Speakers (both business owners and university faculty)
- Discussion about solving small business problems
- Successful case studies
- Attendees network before and after presentations
The Alumni Entrepreneurs is very fortunate to have found support
among our university departments and in the outside community. We are
actively seeking sponsors as we move toward further growth.
By sponsoring an event, you will gain access to savvy alumni
entrepreneurs, NC State resources and some of the best and brightest
students interested in a business career. You will also advance your own
brand by showing your corporate support of initiatives that encourage
entrepreneurship in North Carolina.
The levels of sponsorship include:
$1,500 Single Event Sponsor
- Branding on all marketing and event collateral for a single event
- Brief company pitch at event
- For paid events, three free guest registrations included
$5,000 Annual Commitment includes the above, as well as:
- Annual branding on all collateral
- Keynote an AEN event by sharing a relevant case study
- Host the AEN event at your company location (requires room for 100+ attendees)
- Industry Sponsor Exclusivity
- Join the AEN Board
- Overall Sponsor Exclusivity
- Join the AEN Board
For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.
The Alumni Entrepreneurs welcome new members and is open to anyone with ties to NC State. If you’re an entrepreneur, affiliated with university entrepreneurship efforts in any way (i.e., professors) or students seeking knowledge about navigating the business world, you will benefit from joining our growing network.
Becoming a member is free and easy. Just come to one of our events.
We offer many ways to volunteer with the NC State Alumni Entrepreneurs. Even better, your volunteer efforts can be tailored to fit into your own busy schedule.
Volunteer opportunities could include:
- Helping with event planning and logistics
- Offering to speak to university classes, if requested
- Joining our committee
We welcome other suggestions as well.
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