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Entrepreneurs

Wilmington Entrepreneurs Honored

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted May 24, 2018
Live Oak Bank CEO James "Chip" Mahan gives the keynote speech at the Coastal Entrepreneur Awards on Wednesday night. (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
Live Oak Bank's James "Chip" Mahan was named Entrepreneur of the Decade during the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s 10th-anniversary Coastal Entrepreneur Awards (CEA) ceremony Wednesday night.

Mahan, chairman and CEO of Live Oak, presented the keynote speech during the dinner event, attended by 500 people at the University of North Carolina Wilmington's Burney Center.

This year’s CEA awards celebrated and selected overall winners from the past 10 years of the awards. Each winner of the “Top Ten for Ten” designation was selected by a panel of judges, made up of 13 members of the local business community.

During his keynote speech and acceptance of the award, Mahan said, “My appreciation for this award is only exceeded by the honor that I feel being in the room with you, the best of the best, the entrepreneurs and business folks of southeastern North Carolina.”

Live Oak Bank had not previously won a Coastal Entrepreneur Award though it had been nominated. The company got its banking charter a decade ago and today, the company has 550 employees.

Mahan spoke about the company’s position in the financial industry.  

"So we passed Wells Fargo recently as the No. 1 SBA lender in the country. When we took the company public in July 2015 the bank was about $800 million at the time, now about $3.6 billion. The SBA allows you to lend to 1,100 industries; we are in 20,” Mahan said.

“Wall Street says we'll make about $50 million this year. We're good with that," he said.

Mahan said he said he believes that Live Oak Bank will become a $50 billion to $100 billion bank in a “reasonably short period of time.”

“We have the platform, we have the culture, the technology, we have UNCW and 300 folks between nCino and Live Oak at UNCW. We can extend this,” he said. “That said ... we have figured something out.”

Mahan said, "We are making investments at Live Oak Bank, in Neil [Underwood] and his team and people that have done it before. The entire financial services industry is going to change rapidly. The industry uses 40-year-old technology and it's going to come to an end ... And we are going to be in the middle of it right here in Wilmington, North Carolina.”

Following Mahan's keynote speech, the "Top Ten for Ten" received their awards. This year's 10th-anniversary winners were chosen by judges as being the most innovative companies from the past decade of winners within each of the 10 categories.

The "Top Ten for Ten Winners" include:

A.R.C. Transit Inc. - Distribution Category
Bitty & Beau's Coffee - Retail and Hospitality Category
Cavanaugh & Associates - Energy Category
DocsInk LLC - Health Care Category
Kids Making It - Nonprofit Category
Lapetus Solutions - Technology Category
Manufacturing Methods - Manufacturing Category
N2 Publishing - Professional Services Category
Quality Chemical Laboratories - Biotechnology Category
Untappd - Internet Related Category
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