003 Helping Entrepreneurs Through the Market Research and Customer Discovery Process with Ventureprise Assistant Director Laura Smailes

Show Notes

Laura joins me today to share her journey into the entrepreneurial community and how Ventureprise helps entrepreneurs through the market research and customer discovery process. She explains the various programs the company offers and how UNC students, as well as Charlotte community entrepreneurs, can get involved with their programs. I also spoke with Ventureprise program participant and founder of GIG CONNECTED, Keith Clithero, to get his insight and perspective on the Ventureprise programs and share his advice to other entrepreneurs considering their programs. 

You may have great research or great innovation, but if nobody wants it, then there’s no reason to go forward. You need to make sure it’s matching a need.

Laura Smailes

This week on the Supportedly Podcast:

  • How Laura got started with Ventureprise. 
  • How Ventureprise has evolved over the years. 
  • The various programs they currently offer to UNC students and Charlotte’s entrepreneurial community. 
  • How Ventureprise helps startups through market research and customer discovery processes. 
  • What is the Charlotte Venture Challenge? 
  • How entrepreneurs can get involved with their programs. 
  • How their programs help entrepreneurs with staying accountable to proving their markets. 
  • Mistakes Laura has made throughout her entrepreneurial career that turned into a blessing in disguise. 

Resources Mentioned:

Ventureprise is a great program for anyone – at all stages of their company’s maturation process.

Keith Clithero – Founder, GIG CONNECTED

Connect with Laura Smailes:

This episode is sponsored by Spengler Agans Law Firm

When it comes to all aspects of your business – who you work with matters. Spengler Agans Law is Charlotte’s go-to law firm for startup businesses and small to mid-size companies. Spengler Agans specializes in helping entrepreneurs with everything from business formation to key contracts to early-stage funding. Spengler Agans attorneys and associates help clients understand how various strategic business options can increase or reduce risk and how to grow a sustainable company.

Working with a law firm that specializes in providing top legal guidance to startup businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises makes a difference. Learn more about Spengler Agans Law Firm and their services by visiting SpenglerAgansLaw.com

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Host: Stephanie Kissel

I utilize my background and expertise in project leadership to find creative operational solutions every day. I’m passionate about great ideas and inspired by the entrepreneurs who bring them to life (ever seen someone cry happy tears over your prototype?). I'm fortunate to work with people who share my passions and inspire me every day. Together, we're working non-stop to create cool things that empower entrepreneurs and business owners, like Supportedly.com, the place to find entrepreneurial support programs, events, and actionable content like The Supportedly Podcast. To all the providers and entrepreneurs they support, thanks for letting me tell your stories, and if you’re reading this, I hope we’ve helped make your entrepreneurial journey just a little be easier and maybe even more exciting!

Laura Smailes

Laura Smailes is the Assistant Director at Ventureprise at UNC Charlotte, a hands-on strategic effort to help startups, early-stage companies, and innovation-based entrepreneurship on campus on in the Charlotte community. Her passion for the entrepreneurial community began after she graduated from UNC Charlotte with her Master’s Degree in Communication Studies.

She formed a clean tech startup (Eco-H2O Innovations, L.L.C.) with two engineers, working on a wave powered desalination system to provide clean water to areas in need. With previous corporate communication experience ranging from producing a morning radio talk show to sales and marketing, she managed to transition these skills into the successful launch of the Charlotte startup company. As Operations Manager of the venture, she immersed herself into the local entrepreneurial community, connecting with and learning about the programs and resources that are available to Charlotte entrepreneurs.

Over the past five years, she has had the privilege to participate several entrepreneurial programs, including CLT Joules and Ventureprise Launch program at Ventureprise, and currently serving as the Communications Manager for PitchBreakfast and Community Ambassador for StartCharlotte. She is very eager to use her experience to assist and support other entrepreneurs in the community.

Keith Clithero

Keith is a naturally creative thinker, leveraging his accounting (Ernst & Young) and management consulting (Huron Consulting, North Highland Consulting) background to flesh out the idea into a concrete business plan. Keith’s consulting experience helped him learn how to solve problems and build strong relationships; he continues to leverage these skills to integrate community organizations to drive GIG CONNECTED’S success.