Ventureprise Announces 2018 Charlotte Venture Challenge for May 1st

May 1, 2018


Ventureprise Announces 2018 Charlotte Venture Challenge for May 1st

17th annual event will feature keynote speaker, panel and innovations emphasizing customer discovery and Charlotte entrepreneurial scene

CHARLOTTE, NC- March 23, 2017- The 17th annual event on May 1, 2018 at UNC Charlotte Center City in uptown Charlotte.

Keynote speaker Thom Ruhe, NC IDEA FOUNDATION President & CEO, will share his insight on NC IDEA’s strategic funding direction and the state of North Carolina entrepreneurship. “Thom Ruhe has been on the leading edge of entrepreneurial support since his time at the Kauffman Foundation; he is sure to challenge our community with new perspectives on building a vibrant entrepreneurial support system,” Paul Wetenhall, Ventureprise Executive Director states. Thom Ruhe will lead a panel discussion with three former NC IDEA SEED Grant winners: Lisa Ganderson, The Wed Clique, Ivan Howitt, InfoSense, Inc., and Rob Cummings, Deal Cloud, Inc. The panel will highlight their experience in the Charlotte entrepreneurial scene including funding, resources and lessons learned.

The May 1st program will introduce a “new, interactive format that focuses on promising innovation emerging from UNC Charlotte research and the Charlotte community,” says Ventureprise Associate Director Devin Collins. The Charlotte Venture Challenge will feature three categories, each awarding a top prize during the event. The Student category will have three UNC Charlotte teams pitching their ventures. These finalists were selected from a preliminary campus 49er iChallenge. University researchers and students will be featured in the UNC Charlotte Research Innovation category, spotlighting teams selected from Ventureprise Launch NSF I-Corps program. The third category, Community Entrepreneur Innovation, will promote top participants in Ventureprise Launch NC IDEA customer discovery program. Collins adds, “This is a fresh, new format for our 17th year and we look forward to highlighting companies that have concentrated on customer focused innovation.”

Participants will have the opportunity to showcase and present to corporate innovation customers and investors, as well as compete for over $15,000 in cash awards. The Student category will feature a pitch competition. Both the UNC Charlotte Research Innovation and Community Entrepreneur Innovation categories will have the top companies selected participating in panel presentations, moderated Paul Wetenhall and Devin Collins.

A reception will follow where attendees can meet the 15 companies showcasing and vote for the People’s Choice Innovator winner.

The Charlotte Venture Challenge organizing sponsors are UNC Charlotte Research and Economic Development and Ventureprise.

RSVP to this free event at

For more information about the event, contact Laura Smailes at


About Ventureprise

Ventureprise is UNC Charlotte’s innovation and entrepreneurship center serving the UNC Charlotte campus and Charlotte region. As one of 80 National Science Foundation I-Corps Sites, recipient of a 2016 NC IDEA ecosystem grant and creator of the Charlotte Entrepreneur Growth Report, Ventureprise serves as a center of excellence for evidence based entrepreneurship. By offering three core programs focusing on customer discovery and business model generation, Ventureprise works to provide the resources and expertise for university and community based startups to get to the next level of business formation, scaling or funding.

About Thom Ruhe

Thom Ruhe is an entrepreneur, investor, mentor and works with entrepreneurs, governments, universities and NGOs around the world to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset needed to grow vibrant economies. Prior to joining NC IDEA in 2016, he spent seven years directing the Kauffman Foundation’s programs addressing entrepreneurial education, mentoring, access to capital and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems. Thom also led Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Creation, a school dedicated to advancing community deployed experiential-based entrepreneurial education.

Media Contact:  Laura Smailes