Next Glass CEO Kurt Taylor (left) and Cornerstone Advisory Partners' Dallas Romanowski. Next Glass was named the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year on Thursday. (Photo c/o UNCW)
Update: this version contains the correct amount of IMAF Cape Fear's investment in Next Glass.
Next Glass, a tech venture developing an app the company describes as “a Pandora for wine,” emerged the overall winner at Thursday’s Coastal Entrepreneur Awards breakfast.
The company, the category winner for Internet-related businesses, impressed the judges with its widespread appeal among wine and beer drinkers as well as its potential for generating revenue.
In remarks while introducing Next Glass to the audience, Cornerstone Advisory Partners managing partner Dallas Romanowski said that the Inception Micro Angel Fund (IMAF) Cape Fear, which he manages, has invested $120,000 in Next Glass.
“When considering making an investment, you ask, ‘Is the company scalable, and will it provide good return on that investment?’” Romanowski said, noting that the U.S. wine market alone runs into the billions of dollars.
“Would you invest . . . in Next Glass? IMAF did,” he said. “It could be one of biggest companies in our region, and we’re betting on it.”
The annual Coastal Entrepreneur Awards is a joint program by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).
Judges reviewed nominated companies in various categories to select 10 winners. From that group, the judges picked Next Glass as the overall Entrepreneur of the Year.
In his introductory remarks at the breakfast, Jim Roberts, the CIE’s executive director, emphasized that all 10 of the recipients were winners.
“This is not a competition,” he said. “These companies have already won their awards, and they deserve a round of applause.”
A theme pervading the comments of award recipients was that they didn’t get where they are entirely under their own steam.
“You can’t do it alone; you have had lots of help along the way,” said Yousry Sayed, president and CEO of Quality Chemical Laboratories and winner of the biotechnology category. Others echoed his comments, crediting mentors, business relationships, bankers and tolerant spouses.
UNCW chancellor Gary Miller set the tone for the event, emphasizing the critical importance of developing a spirit of innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset in college students.
“Our graduates will have held 15-25 jobs by the time they are 32,” he said during the event’s opening remarks. “Half of those jobs have not been invented yet; most will require emerging technology. The global climate is changing, and we will need innovation to adapt to that. [In the modern world] you need to continue to reinvent yourself. That is why UNCW so passionate about entrepreneurship.”
In addition to Next Glass
and Quality Chemical Laboratories
, the Coastal Entrepreneur Award winners for 2014 were: SIVAD Business Solutions
, National Speed
, Without Limits
, Cape Fear Clinic
and Odyssey Fire Protection
Chambers of commerce award winners who also were highlighted at Thursday’s event were: Lazy Pirate (Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce), Boo and Roo’s (Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce), Biostudy Solutions (Wilmington Chamber of Commerce), Atlantic Shores Environmental Services Ltd. (North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce) and Revive Physical Therapy (Burgaw Chamber of Commerce).