Bridging the Gap

May 08, 2013 at 12:56 PM

3_Ventureprise_Blog_Photo.jpgMy visits to the London Underground (or “Tube”) always result in a smile when I see that English admonition to “Mind the Gap”. It focuses one’s attention on the gap between the platform and the train.

A few weeks ago, UNC Charlotte organized an all-day conference at its Center City building to focus on another kind of gap. Bridging the Gap Between Academic and Entrepreneurial Capital: Strategies for Success for Women and Under-Represented Minorities was a descriptive conference title…and a tip-off that the organizers were not into sound-bites.

The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (2011) found that women start businesses at half the rate of men, a gap that has widened since this survey began in 1996. The data by race or ethnic background is more complex: low entrepreneurial activity among blacks and high activity among Hispanics. Other studies have found low participation by women and most minorities in larger-scale and higher-growth ventures. There are, of course, multiple factors that lead to these outcomes.

The Bridging the Gap conference was designed to address at least two important needs. First, it included speakers and activities that helped participants envision themselves as entrepreneurs. Second, it created new, relevant connections for participants. These outcomes could bridge the gap between a participant’s self-perception and the entrepreneurial opportunity that may now be conceivable.

Entrepreneurial success depends on serving customer needs with an effective, durable business model. Race or gender does not predict entrepreneurial success or failure. But, we know that not everyone has the type of experience and network that encourages tackling the entrepreneurial challenge. We need to unleash the talents of all of our innovators and entrepreneurs to build ventures that create wealth and jobs by delivering great products or services.

Bridging the Gap helped open the entrepreneurship door to very talented individuals who may not have previously considered this path. Ventureprise was pleased to help the organizers plan the event. We look forward to bringing more talent from every part of our community into the entrepreneurial experience in the months ahead.

- Paul Wetenhall

About Paul

Paul Wetenhall joined the Ben Craig Center May 2008.  Paul led the transformation of the Center into Ventureprise, the region’s conduit to entrepreneurial development. 

Paul comes to The Ben Craig Center from High Tech Rochester, Inc. (HTR) in Rochester, New York where he served as President and Director. Paul started with HTR in 1997 where he launched and managed the Lennox Tech Enterprise Center incubator. As HTR's venture coach, he worked with over 100 start-up and early stage companies. He began his service as HTR's President in January 2004 and was responsible for all aspects of the organization's work, supporting innovators, entrepreneurs, and manufacturers in the nine-county Finger Lakes region. He worked closely with HTR's Board of Directors and with academic, economic development, government and private sector partners.Paul was an adjunct lecturer in entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester's Wiliam E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration and a regular guest speaker at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He has been director of Odyssey Software, Inc. and a director of a statewide economic development initiative, New Jobs for New York.

Prior to joining HTR, Paul founded and was president of QSoft Solutions Corp., a business software company formed in 1993. In 1985, Paul co-founded Microlytics, Inc., a Xerox-funded software company formed to commercialize technology from Xerox' Palo Alto Research Center. As Chief Operating Officer and a Director, he managed rapid growth, mergers, Hong Kong manufacturing, and public company issues. Previously, he held a variety of management positions in pricing, marketing, and operations during 13 years at Xerox Corporation.

Paul is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering with Honor and earned a Master in Business Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Paul is not all work and no play.  When not mentoring entrepreneurs or speaking to city council, he is traveling to adventurous places; most recently Egypt, Jordan, China, Poland and the Ukraine.  He can also be found relaxing with his favorite Jazz station or attending a regional theater or dance performance with his wife.

Tags: entrepreneur
Category: Live Blog

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