Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Friday Features

These are posts from the new Friday Features series, which profiles a staff member, tenant, or other affiliate of the CIE every other week. Check back often for new stories about the people who make the CIE great.

What is Blockchain?

By Nikki Kroushl on May 9th, 2018

"I heard someone make the comparison that blockchain in 2018 is like the Internet was in 1993," explains CIE Manager of Programs and Operations, Laura Brogdon-Primavera. "Nobody's an expert yet, and anybody who claims to be is lying. We really have no idea what it could be used for, but there's a ton of possibility."

Read more here!

CIE CONNECTION, April 17, 2018

Check out the CIE's brand new monthly newsletter, live on the site here!

Friday Feature: Aidan Shepard, Candy Compass, and a Startup-Launching Sweet Tooth

By Nikki Kroushl on April 6, 2018

"I've always liked candy," Aidan Shepard says, uttering the understatement of the week. Almost three years ago, he founded Candy Compass, a subscription box for candy from different countries around the world. He's also seventeen.

Friday Feature: Cameron Meredith and the New Fashion Industry Model(s)

By Nikki Kroushl on March 16, 2018

Last time the CIE featured Cameron Meredith was in October 2016, just a handful of months after he launched ReMarkable, a marker recycling startup, and Meredith Media Group, a collection of models, photographers, hair and makeup stylists, and designers unique for its all-in-one approach.

Friday Feature: Ed Hall, Healthy Pets, and the World’s First Smart Pet Bed

by Nikki Kroushl on February 9, 2018

Entrepreneurship is about solving a problem—about easing your customer's pain. Petrics, the pet healthcare company making IoT products and making waves in small business news lately, does it by making life easier for pet owners and healthier for pets. For its founder, Ed Hall, the path to startup stardom began with his mother. With three cats and a dog, Hall's mother found it impossible to keep track of which pets needed which foods in what amounts.

Enter Petrics.

Friday Feature: David Morrison Coaches Nonprofits from Formation to Foundation

by Nikki Kroushl on December 15, 2017

When he completed his bachelor’s degree in English at UNCW, David Morrison wanted to become a journalist. But in the years since, he’s instead found himself helping fledgling nonprofits, and now he’s founding his own business—DF Morrison Consulting.

Friday Feature: Janelle Babington and the American Red Lion Disaster Fund

by Nikki Kroushl on October 13, 2017

In the summer of 2015, Janelle Babington had a problem: she couldn’t find an organization to take her money.

That is, she couldn’t easily find a relevant animal welfare organization to donate to after the death of Cecil the Lion.

As a life-long animal lover, Babington became frustrated with the lack of publicity for small animal welfare organizations. So she decided to create One Red Lion, the first and only online fundraising platform for animal welfare nonprofits.

Friday Feature: Firelux Attends the Creative Startups Accelerator

by Nikki Kroushl on August 18, 2017

Firelux began with chemistry.

Cofounder and Executive Producer Meredith Jones explains that she originally hired Assistant Director/Creative Director Mary Margaret Folds for a music video she was producing.

Friday Feature: Interactive Game-Maker Kidobit Attends the Creative Startups Accelerator

by Nikki Kroushl on July 28, 2017

Eduardo Mora found his love for education—and his love for Wilmington—while studying abroad at UNCW during his undergraduate years, an exchange student from his native Chile. He has returned to Wilmington to pursue a master’s degree in Spanish while teaching undergraduates, and along the way, he’ll be teaching children how to code.

Friday Feature: Create, Do, and GROW ILM

by Nikki Kroushl on May 19, 2017


These words sprout from the wall in mossy letters, outlining the mission of GROW ILM, Wilmington’s only downtown coworking space, which opened in late April 2017. They are also a personal mantra for co-owner Adrienne Vendetti Hodges.

Friday Feature: Brilliant Sole, Virtual Reality, and the Trek to the Top

by Nikki Kroushl on April 14, 2017

On Monday, April 3rd, while the Tar Heels took home the win for the NCAA, Brilliant Sole took home the win for NCTM—that is, the first North Carolina Tech Madness hosted by ExitEvent and Adzerk.

Friday Feature: Dr. Debbie Powell and the Revolution of Teaching Writing

by Nikki Kroushl on February 21, 2017

“Ten or fifteen years ago,” Dr. Debbie Powell explains, “I watched undergraduate students who were tutoring children during my methods class. And I wanted them to improve that tutoring by assessing their students very early in the experience.”

This was the beginning of Uni-SPIRE, although the company itself has only existed since 2011.

Friday Feature: Mary Jaskowiak and Fecal Finders

by Nikki Kroushl on December 16, 2016

Mary Jaskowiak is a senior in the UNCW Honors College with a major in environmental science and a minor in biology. On November 30th, 2016, she successfully defended her Honors thesis—a method for testing water quality by locating optical brighteners, which are found in laundry detergent and can be used to track human waste that has leaked into natural waters.

But defending her Honors thesis wasn't the first time Jaskowiak presented in front of a crowd.

Friday Feature: Chris Krumm and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization

by Nikki Kroushl on December 2, 2016

“I really fell in love with school, and that's sort of how I got where I am,” says Chris Krumm, Interim Manager of the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, of his meandering track through higher education. After time at Coastal Carolina University, in the army's 82nd Airborne Division, and at Stockton University for education in physical therapy and psychology, he came to UNCW as a student in the Master's of Education Higher Education program.

Friday Feature: Cameron Meredith, Saving the Earth, and Growing a Media Empire

By Nikki Kroushl on October 21, 2016

Cameron Meredith is a veteran and graduate student at UNCW studying International Affairs. A New York native, his CIE and entrepreneurial journey began, as so many others have, when he saw a problem.

Friday Feature: Dr. Jennifer McCall and Products from the Sea

By Nikki Kroushl on October 7, 2016

Dr. Jennifer McCall, a lecturer in UNCW’s Department of Biology and Marine Biology, began her entrepreneurial journey after completing her Ph.D. at UNC Charlotte with UNCW’s Business of Biotechnology postdoctoral program, which allowed her to continue her studies in marine biology as well as earn an MBA from the university. In the postdoctoral program, she worked on “translational” science—the process of “translating” a scientific idea into a marketable product. McCall was developing a project into a shellfish consumption safety test that was quicker and easier-to-use than ones currently on the market, and she applied for a federal Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, grant.

“I started the company [SeaTox], I received the grant, and now we’ve done research and development… and we’re selling the kit through the university,” Dr. McCall said.

Friday Feature: Sarah Ritter and Digital Learning

By Nikki Kroushl on September 23, 2016

Sarah Ritter came to UNCW knowing that she wanted to create a startup. The hardest part was figuring out what, exactly, she wanted to do. 

“Turnip Learning evolved from this idea to make online learning more entertaining and engaging,” Ritter said. “I really like this idea of project-based, applied learning classrooms. I wanted to build a software platform that allows teachers to create and share entertaining content, so that in the classroom time, they can do projects that pair with that.”

Friday Feature: Mack Coyle and Solar Innovation

By Nikki Kroushl on August 26, 2016

Mack Coyle’s journey to innovation began with a friend who had a problem: his family couldn’t open a resort in the Virgin Islands because they couldn’t get a business permit to use fresh water. Coyle, who had years of experience with power systems, said, “Well, you could build a self-powered solar water purification system.” The next day, the friend called back and asked if that were really possible. It was—and still is. Coyle, LLC got its start as Coyle Industries Inc. after years of Coyle’s personal obsession with building a portable solar generator. When another friend challenged Coyle to build a machine that could power a wedding by the wedding date, Coyle rose to meet the challenge.