I was recently asked: What's the best way to track entrepreneur events in Charlotte? I’m pretty well plugged into the ecosystem and get information from a variety of sources, so I responded with the information below:

If you are fairly new to the Charlotte startup ecosystem, or simply want to expand your knowledge, I suggest you start by reading the document Mapping the Ecosystem. This is becoming a little outdated, but still provides a terrific reference for most of the local resources. To understand the current startup environment I suggest reading the Charlotte Entrepreneur Growth Report. Conducted in late 2015, the survey was published in early 2016.

Now for the sources of startup events. I’d start with HQ Charlotte (located at Packard Place) – sign up for their newsletter and meetup group, and follow them on Twitter. The Garage space at HQ is arguably the most active space for startup events in Charlotte. Next, I’d follow Industry Coworking, located at the AvidXchange Music Factory. They don’t have a newsletter that I’m aware of, but they are active in promoting events on Twitter. After the Garage at HQ, Industry is the #2 place where I go for startup events. Brad Feld, co-founder of Tech Stars, recently spoke at the Music Factory. The QCFinTech Demo Day was held there as well.

Other co-working spaces hold startup events, and some of the ones I follow are: Hygge, Advent Co-working, Level, and C3 Labs. These are located near uptown Charlotte, with interesting events from time to time. If you live north on 85 you might want to check out events in Salisbury’s new co-working facility: 10thread. If you live south you might want to check out Ft. Mill’s new co-working facility: Loom.  If you live in Gaston County stay tuned for a new startup and innovation center, GigWorks, being built in Belmont.

Highly recommended reading for all entrepreneurs!

Looming on the horizon is the potential Innovation Campus in North End, the area between uptown and NoDa. The city has allocated $28.9M to improving infrastructure in the Applied Innovation Corridor, and two of Charlotte’s leading entrepreneurs, Louis Foreman and Dan Roselli, are reporting looking for 300,000 square feet to purchase. Stay tuned – this could be really big!

My favorite media resources for startup events: Hilary Burns at the CBJ does an awesome job writing about local entrepreneurial activities. In addition to reading the CBJ publication and daily emails, I suggest you follow Hilary on Twitter (@CBJBurns) and you’ll catch most of the major events. Charlotte Agenda is a local news/blog site targeted to millennials, but does a fair amount of posting on startup companies and events. They have a free newsletter that I read every day. Follow Charlotte Agenda on Twitter too.

If you like a Shark Tank experience, PitchBreakfast is the recurring startup pitch event at HQ Charlotte – second Wednesday of every month at 8:00am in the Garage. Good crowd and they usually mention various upcoming events. Startup Grind is a great place to hear from success startup founders in more of a conversational setting.

The Charlotte Angel Fund has regular meetings where they evaluate startups. Generally their events are exclusive for their members and the companies selected to present, but occasionally they have an event open to the public. On the subject of financing a startup, I highly recommend the book: Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist. The book is written by Brad Feld, mentioned previously.

The City of Charlotte has a website with small business resources and events, Charlotte Business Resources, and Meetup.com is where you will find big data analytics groups, IoT groups, and other targeted events.

Queen City Forward promotes non-profit startups. Their site lists upcoming activities, and they are active on Twitter too. One of my favorite programs of theirs is ImpactU, an accelerator program for aspiring college-age entrepreneurs seeking to launch or scale an innovative startup.

Universities: UNCC Ventureprise holds the annual Charlotte Venture Challenge competition which attracts 100+ entries. Definitely put this event on your attend list every spring! This is the definitive startup competition in the area. Other local programs I follow are Davidson College – Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Johnson & Wales – Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship program, who holds an annual Sharkfest competition (many food related ventures), and CPCC – Entrepreneurship and small business.

I also follow Business Innovation & Growth – BigCouncil.com.  Terry Cox’s group focuses on fast growth companies that are past startup stage – think $2M - $50M in revenue. It’s worth getting to know Terry and get on her email list. One of my favorite BIG events was FailCon, where founders gave their stories on how they overcame previous failures on their way to success. Terry also holds the annual Raising Capital conference – important for any startup or growth company looking for funding.

So…everything isn’t in one convenient place, but between all of these Charlotte area resources you can stay in the loop on startup events in the region. Hope these are helpful. Please bookmark this page for easy reference!

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A contingent of people from the City of Charlotte, Queens University, and Charlotte Hearts Gigabit attended the 2016 Gigabit City Summit in Kansas City May 16-18. Over 300 people registered for the event, making it larger than the inaugural event in 2015. When we attended in 2015 Charlotte was not yet a Gigabit city. Google Fiber didn't announce Charlotte until after the conference, and AT&T, Windstream, and Comporium had yet to announce major residential Gigabit offerings. So much has changed in a 18 months!

CHG co-founder Alan Fitzpatrick gave a Spotlight on Charlotte talk the first day of the conference. The talk focused on how our community is supporting the Gigabit infrastructure roll-out, and our involvement in Digital Inclusion and Smart City activities.

Dr. Eric Freedman from Queens University spoke on the second day of the conference, providing an update on how the city has been working on Digital Inclusion through the Best Minds conferences the past several years, the City Jam conference earlier in 2016, and the leadership of Charlotte's Digital Inclusion efforts with full-time Project Manager Bruce Clark. Everyone On, Urban League, CMS, CMLibrary, Goodwill, Media Democracy Fund, E2D, and many other organizations meet regularly to move Charlotte forward as a community. For more information on this effort go to DigitalCharlotte.org.

The three day summit included various tracks that focused on various aspects of the Gigabit infrastructure. The first day had a track on Gigabit City Activation and a track on Smart City Infrastructure. The second day had multiple tracks on: Digital Inclusion, Civic Tech, University + City Collaboration, Gigabit/Smart City Ecosystems, and Education. An inspiring keynote talk from Blair Levin of the Brookings Institute capped the General Session.

We met with our friends from US Ignite and the other cities in last year's GigHacks event, and spoke with the Mozilla Foundation about coming to Charlotte in 2017. At the conference Mozilla selected Austin, TX as the third city in their Gigabit Community Fund. They plan to add two more cities in 2017 and we've already planted the seed for them to come to Charlotte next year!

A big thank you to Aaron Deacon and KC Digital Drive for putting on the conference and asking us to speak about Charlotte. We look forward to many more events like this. See a few pictures from the event below.

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