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Entrepreneurs seek business advice at Accelerate Wake Forest

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WAKE FOREST — Local entrepreneurs, magnates and investors came together at Wake Electric on May 23 for Accelerate Wake Forest, an event designed to give up-and-coming entrepreneurs a chance to showcase their ideas and businesses.

In the same vein as shows such as “Shark Tank,” Accelerate gave Wake Forest entrepreneurs and business owners a chance to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of investors which was comprised of successful local businesspeople.

The investors — David Williams Jr., Kent Lower, Joseph Evans, Jason McCoy, and Michael Johnson — gave out financial advice, questioned the entrepreneurs about the finer points of their proposals, and ultimately decided whether or not to support each business venture.

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.

Lauire McCoy, owner and proprietor of Cornerstone Holistic Massage, attended Accelerate Wake Forest looking for networking connections, feedback, and a “bit of direction” from the panel of investors.

A graduate of the Launch Wake Forest program, McCoy hoped to find a investor willing to take on the role of silent partner, as well as a loan of $13,000 in order to expand her business. That loan would go toward new equipment, which would allow her to finalize her plans to open a dual school-practitioner massage house.

After McCoy’s presentation, the investor panel gave their thoughts on the presentation and McCoy’s business strategy. In the end, most of the investors suggested that McCoy’s need of a loan is best served by working with a local bank.

“It was an amazing program,” McCoy said. “It was a good learning experience.”

Kristen Kecy, owner of The Nesting Spot, stepped before the investor panel seeking advice for her business.

“The idea behind it is to give moms a space in the community to grow and feel supported and to have a place where they can come once they’ve had their baby or had multiple children,” Kecy said.

The Nesting Spot is paired with an app — Tapcloud — which seeks to connect new mothers with their providers through the use of real-time status updates, statistics and medicinal recommendations.

While Tapcloud has become a major part of her business, Kecy said she still hoped to find an investor willing to work with her in order to expand while she deals with her passion — helping new moms deal with the challenges of postpartum depression.

“I think I left with a really great networking base and I think they were wonderful and gave great feedback,” Kecy said of the experience.

Valerie Jurik-Henry, an entrepreneur who has worked in the housing and health care businesses for over 30 years, came to Accelerate Wake Forest to promote her “Ageless Home” brand of housing.

“‘The Ageless Home’ is pretty much a house that, through design and product placement, allows anyone at any ability at any point in their life — at any phase, at any age — to live in it without feeling like they have to leave it because they can’t stay there longer because of whatever reason or design,” Jurik-Henry said.

By promoting the use of features such as stepless entries, lower kitchen cabinets, and touch faucets, Jurik-Henry hopes to inspire a building philosophy based on constructing homes for people of all ages.

Jurik-Henry came to the panel hoping to find an investor interested in building the first “Ageless Home” in the nation.

“They (the panel) were interested in the actual home being built in Wake Forest,” Jurik-Henry said.

After the presentations concluded, Kent Lower, owner and publisher of CIRCA Magazine and one of Accelerate Wake Forest’s investors, summed up her thoughts on the evening.

“None were official investments right now, but I’m very excited for follow-up meetings with these folks,” Lower said. “I think they have some great ideas that could be very beneficial to Wake Forest. I just look forward to following up and hopefully being a part of them. Maybe not right now, but in the near future.”