Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

May 2008 GWB Technology Column

North Carolina Biotechnology Center

North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s President and Chief Executive Officer Norris Tolson and Southeastern Office Director Randall Johnson, spoke on how biotechnology drives North Carolina’s economic development at  the Brunswick County Entrepreneurship Conference held on April 10th and 11th in Sunset Beach, N.C.  Some of the topics discussed were expanding the production of natural products, growing algae to produce biodiesel, marine fish farming and practical applications of marine biotechnology.   According to Johnson, entrepreneurship, expanding existing business and recruitment are three equally important components to economic development.

“The key is to start the business here and it will grow. The big question is how to move the ideas from the mind to the marketplace‚” said Johnson.

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March 2008 GWB Technology Column

McKim & Creed wins design award for website.

McKim & Creed, a engineering firm, started in Wilmington, with an office in downtown Wilmington, won the 2007 Construction Writer’s Association (CWA) for best website.   CWA a non-profit organization for professional journalists, writers, editors, and publicists serving the the construction industry and presented a total of  three national awards this year for electronic communications. Web sites are judged on criteria such as quality of content, overall design and use of innovative and accessible technology.

The number one challenge for this industry is hiring and retaining good people and this site helps attract quality employees, especially recent graduates,  said Pete Kienle, Chief Marketing Officer McKim & Creed and past national president for the Society for Marketing Professional Services.  Kienle stated that the firm has put a greater emphasis on their online presence than most of their competitors and that more employees are increasingly using the web to research employment.

“Most firms in this industry would not have spent as much money and time on their website but we felt it was money well spent, the owners are thrilled to death,” said Kienle.

The firms has also hired a full time person to administer the site and create a company intranet and used video of staff throughout the site.

The website (, launched in July 2007 and was built by Signal, a design, marketing, and technology firm with offices in Wilmington and Raleigh. The website includes a custom-built content management system that enables McKim & Creed staff  to update key portions, add pages and content to the site, said Bryan Kristof, Director of Marketing for Signal.   “McKim & Creed was easy to work with because they already understood the design and construction process.”   Since the award, there has been “huge activity” on the site, said Kienle.

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Trend Funnel Accepted in PTEN

Since being featured in the November issue of the GWB, Trend Funnel, a web based software program that organizes home furnishings, flooring, paint and accessories by style and trend, has been accepted in Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial (PTEN) 2007-2008 Growth Accelerator Program (GAP) competition.  Trend Funnel is one of sixteen finalists who will receive a scholarship to PTEN’s FastTrac Tech Course, a 10-session training program. The classes are followed by a business-plan competition and an announcement of the top three GAP winners will take place by May.

Cofounder Mary Elizabeth Beal, an Allied Member of the American Society of Interior Designers, will be participating in the classes since she is based in the Greensboro area.   “We are excited about the program and believe it will help solidify and refine our business plan and identify ways to grow the business on a much faster track,” said cofounder Thera Storm, who lives in Wilmington. According to Storm, since being featured in the “pitch” section,  the company has seen an increase in interest in the idea but have not secured funding.   The site is live and in the second beta phase, increasing in membership and  the company is starting to work with key groups; REALTORS, builders and sponsored marketing partners.  The next step is to work with a group of UNCW entrepreneurial students to test the software and offer new ideas.  Storm said they are analyzing the data that is coming through the software to see how target groups utilize the application. “Right now the number one goal is to raise $150,000 and then six months later an additional $500,000,” said Storm.