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Launch Chapel Hill welcomes new group of local startups

Launch Chapel Hill announced the selection of 10 local commercial and social venture startups from a highly competitive field and the addition of new programming through two key partnerships.

Launch Chapel Hill drives entrepreneurship in the local community by helping teams grow and develop their businesses.

“We still consider ourselves a startup, and because of that culture, we are constantly reviewing and revising our programming to better serve the teams that come through the accelerator,” said Callie Brauel (BSBA ’09), Launch Chapel Hill program coordinator. “We are taking the advice we offer to our ventures of constantly getting customer feedback and using it to improve our programming offer, ultimately driving success for the ventures that graduate Launch Chapel Hill’s accelerator program.”

In late 2016 Launch Chapel Hill and the Campus Y signed a memorandum of understanding. With the Kenan Charitable Trust’s generous support for social innovation at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Campus Y and CUBE Social Innovation Incubator earmarked award funds to support social innovation in departments across campus. Launch Chapel Hill joins the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC Public Policy and the UNC School of Social Work as recipients of these funds.

Launch Chapel Hill will now offer enhanced social entrepreneurship programming and hire a social entrepreneur in residence to work directly with social ventures Monikos and So Good Pupusas and support all Launch teams looking at their missions as well as their bottom lines.

One Launch’s social venture, Monikos, is using mnemonics to create a fun, interactive and educational app that can be used among friends and allows healthcare graduate students to efficiently learn about the most common drug facts. “We had a really great experience with Cube, and they were extremely helpful when we were just getting started,” said Riley Kim, Monikos co-founder. “We have these great social ideas about how we want to give back by helping healthcare professionals and hopefully healthcare overall, but since deciding to pursue a for-profit business model, we have had to learn how to do this from a business perspective. This is where Launch has been really great, especially by providing critical legal and financial guidance.”

A second new Launch partner is UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Startup Consulting, a class that gives MBA students and select undergraduate students the opportunity to act as consultants for early-stage, UNC-affiliated startups.

“This partnership is an exciting way to create synergy between the MBA Program at UNC Kenan-Flagler and the startup ecosystem in Chapel Hill,” said Jason Doherty, Startup Consulting director. “Our program participants gain better visibility into the local startup world and Launch’s teams are able to access the experience of MBA students, so everyone benefits. Launch is quite valuable in providing a nice foundation for its ventures and access to wonderful advisors, and the partnership will be really great for both the students and the Launch teams.”

Launch Chapel Hill is a partnership between UNC, the Town of Chapel Hill and Orange County. It offers a 22-week accelerator program twice a year for student, faculty, staff and community entrepreneurs pursuing commercial and social entrepreneurial ventures. In 2015, Launch was recognized as one of the top five university-affiliated accelerator programs in North America.