Four hundred attend 14th annual entrepreneur summit

More than 400 students and community members registered for the fourteenth annual Carole McLeod Entrepreneur Summit held on Friday, November 10, 2017 on the campus of Appalachian State University.

Participants heard from entrepreneur speakers on a variety of topics related to starting a business.

Donald Thompson, CEO of Creative Allies delivered the keynote address, Entrepreneurial DNA: The Makeup of Successful Business Leaders. Thompson related experiences and lessons learned in his network at Creative Allies, an integrated marketing firm that focuses on helping consumer brands execute marketing campaigns, engage customers, and acquire millennials.

"Thompson was one of the best speakers I've heard in a long time," said Walker College of Business Senior Chasen Bettinger. “His presentation was filled with practical examples of people who broke the mold and accomplished great things.”

Attendees also selected from one of three focus sessions:

  • Mariah Bridges, a marketing and brand development consultant, presented The Heart & Soul of Entrepreneurship. Bridges' expertise is using intentional and engaging marketing and driving customer engagement, service, positivity and revenue.
  • Betsy Houser Idilbi, founder of Tech Talent South, presented When to Stop Bootstrapping and Find an Investor. Idilbi has been listed as one of the 25 people to know in the startup scene in Charlotte, named one of the seven people to watch in Charlotte in 2016, and honored by the Charlotte Business Journal as a 2016 Woman of the Year.
  • Kristie Nystedt, founder of the Raleigh Brewing Company, presented Create your own Golden Parachute with Entrepreneurship. Nystedt is the first female owner of a North Carolina craft brewery. She manages three synergistic companies including Raleigh Brewing Company, Atlantic Brew Supply, and ABS Commercial.

“This was a great opportunity to network with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the region,” said Joanna Faith Williams, a senior marketing major in the Walker College of Business. “As I continue to grow my Instagram platform, I know these relationships will be invaluable.”

Attendees also chose to attend two of ten breakout sessions:

  • Cole Maita, Eric Schlicher and Mitch Purgason '15 presented Get Started Online.
  • Jessica Stansberry '07 of presented Building your Business Online.
  • Stephanie Andrews of Enventys presented Crowdfunding to Kickstart Your Business.
  • Dana Dorroh, an award-winning entrepreneur, investor, and small business advocate, presented Women in Entrepreneurship.
  • Justin Belleme of JB Media Group presented Social Media Marketing.
  • Erika McGilley of Natural Capital Investment Fund presented Loan Options for Startups.
  • Mark Bailey, CPA presented Basics of Accounting for Entrepreneurs.
  • Tyler Moffatt, Attorney at Law, presented The Legal Aspect of Entrepreneurship.
  • Boomer Sassman '08 of Big Boom Design presented Leveraging Digital Technologies in Website Design.
  • Tim Herdklotz '92 of BooneShine presented Turning Passion into Profits.

"The speakers at the Summit are top notch, and the event is a must-see for entrepreneurs," said Charles Hardin, president of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce. “What a great opportunity for our community business owners to learn from fellow entrepreneurs with a proven track record.”

Luncheon speaker Tim Ferris, founder of Defiant Marine, Inc. related his experiences in both diving and entrepreneurial success. Defiant offers marine salvage services globally and distills Defiant Marine whiskey.

"The talk on deep underwater diving was incredible and the audience was mesmerized," said Andrew Crumpler '78, a junior finance and banking major in the Walker College. “Mr. Ferris took his experiences from an extreme and dangerous profession and applied them to the challenges people face in business and in life. I want to be him!”

The summit is hosted by the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship (TICFE) and named for Carole Moore McLeod in recognition of her gift that provides ongoing support of the entrepreneurship program. McLeod is a 1981 business graduate of the Walker College of Business.

View the online photo album.

The event sponsored in part by community partners SkyLine/SkyBest and LifeStore Bank. Support was also provided by the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Boone Chamber of Commerce.

After the final breakout sessions, attendees were invited to a networking reception and Big Idea Pitch competition, sponsored by The Hockey Stick Principles authored by Bobby Martin '92, as well as BooneShine and Appalachian Mountain Brewery.

Related: Three earn top spots for innovative business ideas

About the Center for Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a crucial tool for economic development, especially in Western North Carolina, where many traditional industries have declined in recent years. The future economic development of Western North Carolina is critically related to the region's ability to grow from within. As a reflection, student interest in entrepreneurship is growing at Appalachian, and the Walker College of Business is committed to fostering students' entrepreneurial energy and ambition. With support from the Transportation Insight Center for Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial-minded students create and launch businesses through an accelerator program in Peacock Hall and receive hands-on advice and experience through co-curricular and outreach programs. Learn more.

Donald Thompson, CEO of Creative Allies delivered the keynote address, Entrepreneurial DNA: The Makeup of Successful Business Leaders, during Appalachian's McLeod Entrepreneur Summit
Published: Nov 20, 2017 8:32pm