Friday Nooner: Katie Gailes Discusses The Many Hats She Wears… Literally

Welcome back to the finest hour of the week! Today’s Friday Nooner kicked off with discussion of this week’s Venture Connect summit, which took place the last two days (March 29-30). Pete expressed satisfaction with the “new intern”—Joe Colopy—who helped staff GrepBeat’s Venture Connect table on Thursday. The whole GrepBeat team were thrilled to see so many startup founders who have been featured on the site.

Like Venture Connect, Grep-a-palooza-2 is another upcoming event to network and, of course, meet the celebrities behind the world’s greatest twice-weekly newsletter on Triangle tech. Crucial reminder: Very Early Bird rates for June 1’s Grep-a-palooza 2 end at 11:59 pm tonight. The Very Early Bird rates are $99 for Startups Founder/Employees, and $199 for Everyone Else; you can (and should!) register here because the tickets will never be cheaper.

Today also marks 1,000 stories published all-time on! And the Eventbrite for GrepBeat’s next happy hour at Bull McCabe’s in Durham—which will be held on Tuesday, April 18, to coincide with the first day of Raleigh-Durham Startup Week—will become available this evening.

After Joe became tired of what he deemed the “just O.K.” first 15 minutes of the show, the team introduced this week’s guest. Katie Gailes, a director of the North Carolina Business Council and an entrepreneurship mentor, joined the crew with a wonderfully unique red hat which sparked some fashion-forward envy from Pete. She first commented on Pete and Joe’s need for couples therapy (I agree) and later showcased the many other (figurative) hats she wears.

Here are some highlights from her discussion:

  • When she was director of entrepreneurship at Wake Tech, Katie worked closely with its small business center, which anyone in the state can access. She also co-founded Launch My City, an investment and support model for Main Street businesses.
  • Katie said she thinks the concept of entrepreneurship has been hijacked by techies. She believes an entrepreneur is someone who is able to see an opportunity and willing to assume the risk to pursue it. She added that through her role at Wake Tech, she identified the Main Street businesses improving communities that were not being adequately supported. The Launch My City business model is geared towards funding these businesses that might not be actively creating technology, and supporting their initiatives. 
  • One of the biggest challenges for Main Street businesses is attracting investors, because unlike tech startups they can’t produce a 400% return in five years even if everything goes perfectly. She recommends those who have business ideas to explore crowdfunding, Carolina Small Business Development funds, NC IDEA, and other grant-giving organizations. Katie thinks that in general, new entrepreneurs should first engage with all of the many resources that are free. The small business centers appended to community colleges are funded by taxpayer dollars, for instance, so she thinks everyone should make use of the services they’re already funding themselves.

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