Chapel Hill Hosts Triangle Entrepreneurship Week Events

CHAPEL HILL – For the first time, Triangle Entrepreneurship Week is coming to Chapel Hill. The event, now in its third year, hosts local leaders, investors, supporters and entrepreneurs, offering a time to network and share knowledge.

Dina Mills, Program Manager at the LaUNCh Chapel Hill business incubator, explains that Triangle Entrepreneurship Week used to hold events only in Raleigh and Durham.

“It’s really important for the entrepreneurial community because it shows the growing importance of Chapel Hill as a place for start-ups,” Mills says.

Activities across the Triangle run till the 13th, with a full day of events going on at both LaUNCh and its sister incubator, 1789, on Tuesday. The Town of Chapel Hill and Innovate @ Carolina are sponsors.

“In the morning [at LaUNCh], we will start a session on pitching and investors, and then we have a session on how your company can change the world, followed by a panel discussion with a number of lawyers who specialize in start-up law,” Mills says

Last year, TEW brought together more than 2,000 local entrepreneurs, and business owners attended 26 events in the area.

“Lots of great connections have been as a result of it, and that’s why we are really pleased to have it in Chapel Hill this year,” Mills says

Events are open to the public. For a schedule of events, click here.

1789 Incubator Is Open And Ready For Business

CHAPEL HILL – 1789 is the newest business incubator to open in Chapel Hill. It’s geared toward Carolina students and recent graduates, with the goal of supporting the area’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Following in the footsteps of Launch Chapel Hill, it will act as a feeder to its predecessor. Young entrepreneurs are already moving in to the space, with innovative ideas in the works.

UNC alum Aaron Scarboro has played a key role in getting 1789, which has arguably the coolest office space in Chapel Hill, up and running.

“We really want to be able to create an impact on the entrepreneurial community in the Triangle. We think we are filling a pretty big niche here. Launch is for the later-staged companies, and we are trying to focus on encouraging students who may have never thought of themselves as entrepreneurs before.”  Scarboro said.


Named for the year when UNC was founded, 1789 is located above Four Corners and is replete with conference tables, a kitchen, sitting areas, and private phone booths. For times when venturists want a creative break, there’s a ping-pong table and arcade game machines. Scarboro explained it took a lot of work to get the space ready for business.

“The floor was dirty, walls and windows were all dirty and grimy,” Scarboro said. The windows were broken and had bars over them—it was an absolute wreck. Over the course of about three months, we did a great job of renovating it, and it is an awesome space now.”

1789 also has one of the best views in town, with wide, open windows looking onto Franklin Street.

“The idea behind 1789 was that this was going to be a workspace for students and graduates to come and be able to work on an idea. We didn’t want people closed off in their own office space. We definitely wanted ideas to be thrown around and people to interact with each other. We do have some private spaces but really we wanted an open collaborative space,” Scarboro said.

After overseeing the renovation process, Scarboro then transitioned into an administrative role. He says local businessman and philanthropist Jim Kitchen had the vision for 1789 and was also heavily involved in LaUNCh Chapel Hill. After just a few months, 1789 is currently home to eight business ventures, from fair trade clothing makers to video production specialists.

Chapel Hill native Mary Elizabeth Lovelace worked closely with Scarboro to open 1789.

“It’s been really exciting to see it transform from a space under construction to a working venture lab,” Lovelace said.

Lovelace graduated from the University of Richmond. She did not have access to a program like this during her college years, so she has enjoyed seeing the venturists take advantage of a great opportunity.

“It is awesome to watch the entrepreneurial ecosystem grow in Chapel Hill because it wasn’t like this five years ago. There’s been so much to increase it, and 1789 is a huge part of that,” Lovelace said.

She explained that all a student needs to get involved with 1789 is a viable idea and willingness to take risks.

“It is really exciting to see the students get fired up about their ideas and the possibilities within those ideas,” Lovelace said.

Senior Kailey Izzard is an entrepreneurship minor at UNC and is interning with 1789.

“I always had a passion for entrepreneurship so I thought I might start my own business one day. I starting interning here [1789] and realized that I love managing people who are starting their own businesses to help them turn it into something real,” Izzard said.

Scarboro said he is working to recruit new ventures for the fall and also looking for business experts to mentor the young entrepreneurs.

“Hopefully we will be able to recruit mostly through word of mouth, through our interns, and our current ventures talking to people about it. We hope to generate a buzz on campus,” Scarboro said.

For more information on how to apply for the program, click here.

LaUNCh, 18 New Businesses Open

CHAPEL HILL – Simultaneously, 18 new businesses opened their doors Wednesday evening with the official grand opening of LaUNCh Chapel Hill.

***Listen to the Ceremony***

“Government, business, and higher education can come together to create a great economy,” says Chapel Hill’s Mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt speaking just outside the business incubator located on Rosemary Street. “That’s how Chapel Hill got where it is today, and it’s the only way we’re going to meet the future our community deserves.”

He along with LaUNCh’s entrepreneur-in-residence, Jim Kitchen, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp, and Orange County Commissioners Chair Barry Jacobs symbolized the finalization of a process Downtown Partnership Executive Director Meg McGurk says was almost exactly a year in the making.

“We have all of these ventures that have already been in here for a few months that are already growing with these fantastic ideas,” McGurk says. “There’s some of the most creative ideas inside of LaUNCh right now. We all talk so much about what we want, but we actually made this happen.”

The grand opening came on the day when Orange County’s unemployment rate for March was released and once again came in as the lowest in the state. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce President Aaron Nelson says it’s opportunities like LaUNCh that will continue to bring that number down and help all of Orange County thrive.

“Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County have a great economy,” Nelson says. “We were late into this recession; we are first out; and entrepreneurship is going to be our future. We’re going to focus on the University’s growth and expansion, the hospital, education, and then things like this, like LaUNCh Chapel Hill where small/mid-size enterprise can thrive here in our community.”

And while jobs are statistically increasing in Orange County, Chapel Hill relies heavily on the creation of jobs from UNC. But, as Chancellor Thorp says, the continuous budget cuts handed out by the State Legislature put a kink in that plan.

“These are the jobs that will move the meter in terms of the unemployment rate,” Chancellor Thorp says. “The University is luck if we can keep our budget flat right now, so there’s not going to be huge amounts of hiring there. But the entrepreneurial businesses can grow quickly, and the more we start here, the more they can do that and contribute to Orange County’s economy. So, great news on the unemployment rate, and this is certainly part of the whole picture.”

The venture lab is 3,500 square feet, so all 18 businesses are literally right next door to each other. While there are mentors and coaches helping them to eventually reach their goals of getting outside the four walls of LaUNCh and helping them to be self-sustaining, Kitchen says some of the help has to come from one another.

“A key part of this is really going to be getting these businesses to create this culture where they do support one another,” Kitchen says.

Each business startup signs a six-month agreement with LaUNCh. If needed, that contract can be extended to one year. Then, it’s out into Chapel Hill where Kitchen says there are a lot of opportunities just around the corner.

“We have 140 West; pretty soon we’re going to have 123 West, which is the former University Square space,” Kitchen says. “These companies will move to these other places across the street, so it’s an incredible new ecosystem that we’re creating here.”

Dr. Bronners Magic Soapbox

So Donna and I were talking about going to Blockbuster or going on line to NetFlix and stream a movie. I opted for the stream since I had the laptop.

Browsing through the titles, memories sprang as I saw the title “Dr. Bronners Magic Soapbox.”

I used to use it all the time!
I remember reading the label, laughing, thinking it was neat and a bit crazy, and wondering who wrote that?

Being curious I added the movie to my stream list, thinking someday, I’ll have a chance to watch this.

Little did I realize it would be that same night as everyone conked out early, and it was just me and the remote control.

Until watching the moving, I didn’t realize there really was a Dr. Bronner rather than a mythical figure, the struggle, the family story, the message of world unity, and the purpose of the soap.

Nor how socially conscious and active the company is.

The story of Dr. Bronners Soap should be celebrated and taught just as Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Well Spring Grocery,  or Newman’s Own is.

How do you get over 30,000 words on the bottle label that were his life’s work of searching every religion for “Full Truths?”

The abbreviated version is:


If you remember the soap, use it now, like eccentricity, and social causes done well, you’ll like this movie.

Let me know what you think.

PS- I’m going out to the store now to pick up a bottle of Dr. Bronners peppermint soap.