CAROLINA CONNECT is presented annually by AdvantageWest, the economic development partnership for the 23 western counties of North Carolina, and is considered by many as the top event of the year for entrepreneurs across the state and beyond. Collaborating on the event this year with AdvantageWest is Mountain BizWorks, a nonprofit agency that supports entrepreneurs with business development and capital.
The event starts with a pre-conference networking breakfast at 7:30 a.m. A panel discussion kicks off the program at 8:30, featuring 30-and-under entrepreneurs who will share what led them to start their own ventures and how they've achieved success at such a young age. (See details below.)
The lunchtime keynote speaker is an internationally recognized leader in social media and customer service, Peter Shankman, founder of the social media website Help A Reporter Out. Described as a "buzzsaw of ideas," Shankman will discuss a new world fueled by what he says are the two most powerful currencies of all, relevance and trust, and what businesses need to know to prosper in this new environment. He'll sell and sign copies of his latest book, Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World, following his presentation.
The closing session features some of the area’s most recognized “entreprebrewers” – entrepreneurs in the brewing industry – Joe Eckert (Jack of the Wood), Mike Rangel (Asheville Pizza and Brewing), Oscar Wong (Highland Brewing), and Jeanine Buscher and Sarah Schomber (Buchi) – who will come together with moderator John Mark Stroud to share their unique perspectives on how business, competition, collaboration and community created a brand bigger than all of them: Beer City USA.
There will be morning and afternoon breakout sessions as well, covering cloud computing, sales and marketing, finance and capital, innovation, social entrepreneurism and succession planning. CAROLINA CONNECT wraps up with the announcement of the winner of a $10,000 business plan competition for women entrepreneurs, presented by AdvantageWest and Verve magazine, with a post-conference reception immediately following, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Regular registration for CAROLINA CONNECT is $125 or $25 for full-time students, and includes full access to all conference sessions, plus the continental breakfast, lunch and the afternoon reception. Space is limited and pre-registration is encouraged at www.advantagewest.com. For more information on CAROLINA CONNECT, call AdvantageWest at (828) 687-7234.