Accelerate Rural N.C.
Helping Grow Rural NC Companies
Are you a small business owner? The Miller School of Entrepreneurship and Crisp Small Business Resource Center's Accelerate Rural NC program begins June 12, 2023. Register your business for free ➡️ http://go.ecu.edu/accelerate
Accelerate Rural NC is a rural business accelerator focused on helping small businesses gain access to global markets with innovative products. Key components of the accelerator include e-commerce development, development of high-value offerings for niche markets, and livestreaming ecommerce. The program begins June 12, 2023 and will run for 8 consecutive weeks.
Classes are online for 1 hour a day, M-Th at 10:00am Eastern.
The program is grant-funded and no cost to participants. Participants will receive:
The program is supported by an Ecosystem grant from NC IDEA.
More on Livestreaming:
Leveraging live commerce to empower rural businesses and communities through an immersive shopping experience
As the world evolves, so do our shopping habits. The next big thing in the retail industry is live commerce, which is poised to transform the way we shop. This innovative fusion of livestreaming and e-commerce presents a unique opportunity for rural businesses and communities to thrive in the digital era.
Live commerce connects sellers and consumers in real-time, creating a highly engaging and interactive shopping experience. For rural businesses, this means they can reach a larger audience, showcase their products more effectively, and create stronger customer relationships, all of which contribute to increased sales and growth.
Live commerce has its roots in Asia, where it has quickly become a dominant force in the e-commerce landscape. As global internet penetration increases and streaming technology becomes more accessible, live commerce is taking off in other parts of the world. At Accelerate Rural, we recognize the immense potential of this new retail format for rural businesses.
Rural businesses often face significant challenges in terms of market access and visibility. Live commerce can help them overcome these obstacles by:
At Accelerate Rural, we are dedicated to empowering rural businesses and communities by providing them with the tools, resources, and training necessary to leverage live commerce effectively. We offer a range of support services, including:
As live commerce continues to revolutionize the retail industry, Accelerate Rural is committed to ensuring that rural businesses and communities are not left behind. By harnessing the power of this exciting new retail format, we believe that we can help create a more inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable future for all.
Meet Our Mentors!
Co-Founder and Managing PartnerAcademy Venture FundsCharlotte, NC
Mr. Ciannamea has been investing in and working with early-stage companies for approximately 20 years.
He co-founded and is a Senior Managing Director of ACF and AVF II. In this capacity, he is responsible for performing due diligence, making decisions on portfolio company investments and contributing to corporate development issues.
Board Director and Strategic AdvisorMcLean, VA
As CEO, Tom provided the growth and exit capital for Signature Senior Lifestyle Limited, a UK developer and operator of super premium nursing care homes in London and surrounding counties with the goal of creating the best possible resident experience. As EVP and President of Sunrise Development, and then global company President, helped lead Sunrise to become the preeminent and largest international senior living provider, operating over 450 homes, in four countries, with +50,000 excellent employees serving nearly 44,00 residents. Growth was primarily through development, with selective acquisitions, including the acquisition of Marriott Senior Living
Marrone Bio Innovations (NASDAQ:MBII)
Experienced, serial entrepreneur who is a thought leader in the ag biologicals industry, successfully bringing multiple science-based products to market and scaling two agbio companies from founding to a consistent high growth revenue stage. Skilled at raising money from angels, VCs, public markets and debt. Experienced at: M&A, turnarounds, technology licensing and acquisition, building intellectual property portfolios. Non-profit and for-profit boards. Mentoring entrepreneurs. Organizational culture, corporate ethics. Public speaking: Entrepreneurship, sustainable, regenerative and organic ag, agtech and ag biologicals.
Managing DirectorFirst Call AdvisorsOrleans, VA
Bill Pursche is the founder of First Call Advisors,Bill is widely regarded as one of most knowledgeable experts in the world in the area of Post Merger Integration (PMI). He has been involved in over 350 M&A and PMI efforts in a variety of industries and geographies, including cross border deals, and has authored many articles on M&A and PMI. His special emphasis is on the PMI process and the identification and capture of profit improvement opportunities. Previously, he was a Partner at McKinsey & Company where he led its worldwide Post Merger Management Group. While at McKinsey he also founded and led its Mergers and Acquisitions Group (M&A), and its Turnaround (Operational Profit Improvement) Group.
CFOFugue, Inc.Bethesda, MD
Experienced entrepreneur, private investor and business development professional. Inc. 500 CEO. 7 years in management consulting for Global 1000 companies. Founder of numerous companies and board member/advisor to early stage ventures.CFO - Fugue, Inc. - Technology startup developing Fugue, a cloud operating system that builds, monitors, and enforces cloud infrastructure, continuously and automatically.Mentor - Harvard Business School Alumni New Venture Contest, DC Region, advising contestants in this global new venture competition. Have worked with regional winners PhytoTek and KnockOut!
Business BrokerTransworld Business AdvisorsGreenville, NC
John has four decades of progressive executive leadership experience involving the startup and recruitment and development of companies, assessment of competitive landscapes and synergistic relationships to develop strategies that capitalize on unique opportunities to advance geographic areas. A change agent dedicated to leading organizations in new directions and developing cross-functional teams to diminish attachment to silos that inhibit growth. Responsibilities have included budget development and oversight, direct P&L for funding/operating specific projects, and other programs to support company recruitment, retention and entrepreneurial activities as well as regional workforce development and STEM education efforts to improve the talent pipeline.Currently serving on statewide SBTDC Board of Directors, Rivers East Workforce Development Board, co-chair of STEM East ENC Employers & Superintendents Advisory Board, East Carolina University College of Engineering & Technology Advisory Board, NCSU Industrial Expansion Solutions Advisory Board and the Institute for Emerging Issues National Advisory Board. Also a member of several ECU departmental advisory boards.
President & CEOEast Carolina AngelsGreenville, NC
Mark was the Executive Director for Innovation and New Ventures at ECU. Prior to ECU, Mark was AVP for Research and Industry Partnerships at Colorado State. Mark managed multiple technology-based businesses in Colorado. ECA is the newest angel investor network in NC. East Carolina Angels (ECA) is an angel network focused on return on investment (ROI) for its Members through facilitation of the flow of capital and support from East Carolina University (ECU) alumni and supporters, as well as other angel investors with an interest in high growth startups in eastern North Carolina and the U.S. as a whole. ECA seeks to invest in private companies with the potential for significant growth and financial returns. In addition to facilitating investments, ECA leverages its leadership expertise, and the power of the global ECU community and other sophisticated investors to provide guidance and expertise to portfolio companies, including serving in operational and leadership roles to drive success and exits.
Greenville, NC Area
Mike Aman serves as a mentor on ECU's Entrepreneurs-in-Residence team.
Partnering with Business Owners to lead with excellence for eternal impact.Experienced Leader skilled in Coaching & Development, Management, Marketing, Operations and Client Satisfaction. Strong professional with a BSBA & MBA focused in Business from East Carolina University.
I joined VividCortex as CEO in July 2018 and led the company to a highly successful exit 17 months later, with a 5X increase in valuation over the prior funding round. Following our acquisition by SolarWinds, I currently serve in an integration capacity as GM of the Database Performance Monitoring group for our SaaS infrastructure product (formerly VividCortex). Charlottesville-based VividCortex was backed by leading VCs including Osage Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Battery Ventures.Previously I spent more than 25 years successfully leading revenue generation efforts at startups, middle market and public companies, including 17 years in enterprise software and SaaS. I served as CRO at Whisker Labs, and was the senior marketing executive at several companies including Earth Networks, WeatherBug, Arxan Technologies, Softek Storage Solutions (acquired by IBM), and Legato Systems/OTG Software (acquired by EMC).During 9 years at MCI-Worldcom, I led consumer branding and product marketing efforts and ran loyalty marketing programs as well as financial planning and business analysis functions. I started my career as a management consultant at Bain & Company in Boston.Yale School of Management (MBA) and Wesleyan University (BA).
CEOSonatypeBaltimore, MD Area
Wayne has been CEO for several large VC-funded technology companies including Sonatype, Sourcefire and Riverbed. Wayne is an avid cyclist and mountain climber. His broad technical background and leadership skills have helped him generate a lot of value for stakeholders over a long period of time.
Mayne Pharma, USA
Phil was Co-Founder, President & CEO of Metrics, Inc. which was acquired by Mayne Pharmaceuticals.
Loonshot Taker.I help companies reimagine retail marketing.Career marketer in the consumer packaged goods and retail industries. Serial entrepreneur and intrapreneur that seeks to not only adapt to a rapidly changing marketing environment but to help create and lead the future of the industry. Experience ranging from Fortune 1 to start-ups.Founder of Collective Bias Social Shopper Media Company (Acquired by Inmar in 2016), Carusele Content Marketing Company and creator of Walmart Elevenmoms content marketing platform. Proven leader with the ability to conceive and execute emerging media business models that drive consumer engagement and ROI.Leveraging 20+ years of experience in cpg marketing coupled with 13 years of ground up social media knowledge to build new media formats in the shopper marketing space.Experience includes brand marketing positions for Verbatim, Eastman Kodak Digital (PictureVision), Hanes Brands, Newell Rubbermaid, Implus, Dominos Pizza and Walmart, all with a hands on approach to implementing innovative marketing plans with demonstrated ROI.#ContentMarketing #Shopper Marketing #EmergingMedia #SocialMedia #MobileMedia #Entrepreneur #Branding #Marketing #ProductDevelopment #Public Relations #DigitalMedia, #Retailrelevancy #MarketingStrategy #Dad #Retail
CPG Advisor, LLCGreater Milwaukee Area
After a career with Gillette, SC Johnson, Glade, Clorox and other major brands, Andy is offering M&A services from deep experience in both innovation and M&A in consumer products and technologies. We accept projects ranging from short strategy assessments to intensive engagements that follow a deal from initial pitch through post-deal integration. M&A services include Diligence (product, IP, regulatory and portfolio assessment), Valuation (value vs market alternatives, defensibility, risk assessment) and Integration (building transition and post-deal plans, including contingencies).
Co-Founder & former COO of eVestment
Co-Founder & former Chief Operating Officer of an Atlanta-based Financial Technology company called eVestment, a Data & Analytics organization that services the Institutional Investment industry. The company grew from 4 partners to 400+ employees globally with offices in New York, London, Hong Kong, Sydney Australia, Dubai UAE & Tokyo Japan and regional sales offices throughout the United States & Canada. In October 2017, eVestment was acquired by publicly traded NASDAQ and remains a key component of the NASDAQ portfolio of companies to date.
As COO, Matt helped lead eVestment’s global expansion into the United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong from 2009-11 and was part of the Executive Team responsible for the strategic direction of the business. He also led the post-acquisition integration of several companies, acquired by eVestment between 2010-2015, into a common operating environment and culture.
He now spends his time as a private investor/strategic consultant in pre- & post-revenue companies helping fellow entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls of start-ups and growing businesses. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Ron Clark Academy (“RCA”), a globally recognized Non-Profit, educational organization founded by fellow ECU alum, Ron Clark.
Washington, D.C. Metro Area
I am President of LeGuard, an industry-changing technology that gives corporate legal departments LIVE visibility into outside counsel activities and spend as it accrues.I am a strategic, hands-on CEO / COO / Business Development Executive accomplished in leading world-class executive and management teams in commercial and federal businesses and community endeavors.
Chief Customer Solutions Officer
e-Courier SoftwareBaltimore, MD
Phil is longtime technology executive in the logistics industry. He recently sold his company to Alpine SG and continues in a consulting role.Phil has worked with major manufacturers and large technology on software solutions including one of the earliest implementations of bar codes.
Managing Partner, Polaris Associates, L.L.C.
Moe Farhat is a Father, Entrepreneur, Inventor, and the CEO of Webinopoly and several IT companies with the lead role in Web Design and Software Development. He serves in all roles consisting of an online basis and precision. Prior to joining Webinopoly, Moe worked as a Software Developer and an IT Specialist in many well-known companies overseas and in the United States. With 14 years of experience, Moe holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science & an MBA Degree from the University of Houston. Providing Webinopoly’s online operations the steps for national success.
Head of UX
Tech company founder balancing engineering and operations with marketing, sales and business development. I enjoy working with early stage technology companies, and in addition to the companies I co-founded, I served as Head of Marketing, Head of Business Development, and advisor to several startup SaaS and Data Analytics companies.I support the Big Data & Analytics Society in Charlotte, and serve on the Board of the Society of Information Management (SIM) for Marketing of the Charlotte Chapter. Additional roles include working as a Marketing consultant for Carolina Premier Bank and TechWorks Gaston innovation center, and previous Membership Development at the NC Technology Association.
Director, Small Business Credit Initiative
NC Rural Economic Development Center
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Area
President and Founder
Washington, D.C. Metro Area
The real thread of my career has been putting people to work. At first it was public service oriented - running a Summer Youth Employment Program to find jobs for young people who were economically disadvantaged and under the poverty line. Then I moved to the private sector and transitioned my “putting people to work” skills to the staffing industry. Seven years later I became an entrepreneur by starting Mee Derby. We have been slowly growing for more than 30 years now, to the point that we are today a leading search firm for the staffing industry.For 30 years at Mee Derby I’ve built a team of people, a solid core of like-minded professionals who embrace the same values of community, communication, integrity, and results who are passionate about the staffing industry. We aspire to innovation and harness technology in a way that allows us to work effectively. Technology provided us access to people, to each other, and enhances work-life balance. The company evolved from a corporate headquarters on K Street to virtual officing across the United States.
Benjamin Hardy, CPA
Benjamin Hardy completed his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from East Carolina University in 1989. Ben is currently a member of the AICPA, NCACPA and the NCACPA Accounting and Attestation Committee.
Additionally, Ben serves on the NCACPA's Accounting and Attestation Technical Assistance Program for the Construction Industry and the AICPA and FASB Private Company Financial Reporting Committee Resource Group. He is proficient in the areas of individual income tax, business tax matters and estate and gift taxation. Ben is highly experienced in tax and financial reporting matters specific to the construction industry.
I am currently the Co-founder at Imaginovation, as well as the host of Tales from the PROS podcast. I have built an award-winning 7-figure app development company 100% organically bootstrapped and started from nothing since 2011 with my brother-in-law. I am also a creative marketer, passionate business storyteller, and a member of the Forbes Council.
What I’m Currently Doing:
On my Tales from the PROS podcast, I’ve interviewed amazing leaders sharing their inspirational stories:
My drive and passion come from inspiring and making a positive impact on other people's lives and in the community. I know that as long as I do right by people and have the right motives behind what I am trying to accomplish, then nothing is impossible.
How To Find Me:
Imaginovation - www.imaginovation.net
Tales from the PROS Podcast - www.talesfromthepros.com
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/themichaelgeorgiou/
Valarie Valdepeña is an attorney in California, Texas and Georgia with over 16 years of experience in several areas of practice: business, contracts, estate planning, real estate, solar, broadband, cannabis/hemp and entertainment law. She also holds a real estate sales license and a life, accident and sickness insurance license in Georgia. She currently resides in Georgia where she is assisting individuals and businesses build generational wealth through the development of long term personal and business strategies, complex business transactions and unconventional partnerships. Valarie is a founder, board member and volunteer for nonprofit organizations that focus on the use of sustainable, regenerative farming systems within local communities, creating environmentally friendly building materials, and the use of innovative business and real estate models to eliminate environmental harm, remove systemic inequalities and encourage the advancement of sustainable rural developments.
Mr. Bordes has twenty years of direct investment experience across venture capital, private equity and public market investment strategies. Mr. Bordes is currently the Managing Partner of Front Porch Venture Partners, which he co-founded to help individual accredited investors and family offices secure diversified exposure to the Southeast's top venture capital firms and startups.Prior to Front Porch, Mr. Bordes helped oversee a large ($4bn+ AUM) North Carolina based family office's investment strategy across a diverse set of industries. Prior to that role he was the VP/Head of Research at venture capital backed alternative data startup YipitData in New York.Prior to joining YipitData, he was a Partner at Hurley Capital (NYC), and held various roles at Blum Capital Partners (SF), Stone Tower Capital (NYC) and AEA Investors (NYC). Mr. Bordes started his career as an Analyst in the M&A group at Merrill Lynch (NYC).Mr. Bordes received a Master's in Business Administration, with honors, from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a bachelor's degree in Finance and Economics, cum laude, from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Mr. Bordes was born and raised in the Appalachian mountains of Eastern Kentucky (Williamsburg).
Meet some of the companies working with us!
Workshops and Summer Camps for Animal Lovers and Aspiring Veterinarians
Regenerative Grass-fed Beef, Pasture-raised Pork, and Eggs
Live and Purged NC Crawfish
Food for the moment.
"From the Baker Family Farm to You"
Beautiful. Glamorous. Divine.
Grass fed. Raised right.
Spirited meat, spirited moments.
Convenient, Fast, No Wait, No Pressure "Know And Go"
Just good folks making great CBD.
Get chocolate sauced!
Local and sustainable microgreens.
The Cleanest Toilet Plunger Ever Made
Fresh, local produce
Farm Fresh Pecans Produced Sustainably in NC
ALIGNING DANCERS WITH THEIR PASSION AND PURPOSE
Hand Embroidered Wearable Art
Off the Cuff Designs ✨⠀🐝 ONE of a KIND, let yourself shine
Buy Professional High Quality Beats Online
Lightweight modularmartial arts weapons kits
Learn More About ARNC Here!
Answer a few short questions to see if we are a match for you!
ARNC works with start-ups, early phase and existing companies to help them grow by implementing e-Commerce services and exploring exporting to foreign markets. We select companies for an intensive 8 week program online. Students may work closely with experienced mentors and instructors. Learn more about our program and how to apply. Next class starts May 22, 2023
The ARNC Mentor
More for Mentors
Helping Rural Businesses Grow
Dennis Tracz, Director of ARNC along with Brady Hillhouse, Summer Intern and David Mayo, Director of Crisp Small Business Resource Center wrote this article about mentor expectations in order to articulate the values and characteristics of mentorship in the Accelerate Rural N.C. community.
Mentors are individuals with deep industry, investment, or entrepreneurship experience. They work with the companies pro bono, without expectation of reward or compensation, will share of their knowledge and guidance freely, and will open their networks when appropriate. Mentors are what make ARNC unique. The success of the companies enrolled are a direct result of the generous contributions of mentors.
Based on our experience of mentoring and being mentored, and in order to help guide the many mentors who volunteer their time to help entrepreneurs and startups succeed, we offer the following points to consider.
There's so much more we could say about each of these points and we will over the course of time.
If these values describe you, and you're interested in becoming a Accelerate Rural N.C. mentor, read on.
More on Mentorship
Although there are a million ways to mentor — something that we realize and fully support we will be experimenting with different approaches as we gain more experience.
Becoming an Official ARNC Mentor
Attend at least two events in the first month of the program and interact with the companies and the founders that you are interested in.
As the program progresses, your interaction with the companies will be self-driven, driven by company interest, or directed through the director.
A Few Other Points on Mentoring at ARNC
Attend Class online and in-person
8 weeks, M-Th
Develop digital assets and plans for your business
Demo Day & Launch
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
More Info, Please!
Inquire about registering your Company or being a Mentor
Connect with Accelerate Rural N.C.
Help Rural NC areas Grow!
Investing in the ARNC Program is very important to the growth of our local economy, making a direct impact on local & regional business and growth minded entrepreneurs.