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‘Accelerate Wake Forest’ back for second year

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WAKE FOREST — A group of local investors has announced the second year of a program intended to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit brought on by shows like “Shark Tank.”

Called “Accelerate Wake Forest,” the initiative was inspired by similar programs in other towns.

Area inventors, entrepreneurs and business owners hoping to start or expand will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of investors in front of an audience. If an idea appeals to one or more of the investors, they will offer advice and mentorship for free, or financial backing in exchange for a percentage of the business. After the event, any further details and negotiations between the investor and the entrepreneur to complete the deal will be confidential.

“Accelerate Wake Forest has brought together a great group of investors and mentors,” said David Williams Jr., a member of the investors panel for the event. “Several who participated in 2018 are coming back, and we have new investors, too. We are all active in the community, want to encourage economic development, and see this as a way of giving back.”

Spearheaded by business owner Michael Johnson and Chamber of Commerce President Ann Welton, the program was developed and launched a year ago.

“Gathering a number of investors with the interest and the financial wherewithal to make investments in the Wake Forest area was the first step,” Johnson said. “We have a group in place and they’re excited and ready to hear from this year’s applicants.”

The 2018 program resulted in investments ranging from $2,000 to $600,000 in a variety of businesses. Accelerate Wake Forest follows up on a Wake Forest Rotary Club-sponsored program, Launch Wake Forest, which provides training and mentorships to current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The investors will make deals at their discretion. No offer will be made to or solicited from the audience.

Anyone interested in applying for Accelerate Wake Forest can email for an application. Completed applications must be submitted by May 3. All applications will be reviewed by an invitation committee and finalists will be invited to present their business plans in person at a special event hosted by Fidelity Bank at Wake Electric on May 23.

For more information on the program, contact Ann Welton at or 919-556-1519.