I started the technology company ConnectedInvestors.com here in Wilmington back in 2005. The goal of the site was simple; provide a platform where real estate investors could connect.
Since then, we’ve grown into the largest social network of real estate investors and we help facilitate billions in real estate investment transactions each month.
As a young entrepreneur, I recognized the value of a connection. In 2005, Wilmington was a bit of an innovation desert. Fast forward to today and the landscape has changed and been essential to our growth.
Connected Investors became the first company to make use of the resources available through Wilmington’s tech incubator, tekMountain. It’s been a pivotal decision that extends far beyond having workspace and the cachet of residency in a premier regional incubator. At tekMountain, I connected with many local successful entrepreneurs.
As a growing young company, we were afforded the opportunity to work with local, more established companies like Next Glass. One of the founders, George Taylor, spent countless hours with me. Through that relationship, I gained invaluable counsel on technology, company positioning and more. His advice helped me grow without reinventing the wheel.
The continued growth of the entrepreneurial community, in my opinion, is dependent on outreach and the availability of opportunity – through connection.
Last year, through the Cameron Executive Network at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Cameron School of Business, an intern found out about our company and approached us. Enter UNCW business student Jake Gellar – a young man I recognized as having the same kind of hustle I possessed at his age.
After he spent some time as an unpaid intern, Connected Investors brought Gellar on board, opening the opportunity to a lucrative career. Just like Next Glass helped us, we’ve been able to pay it forward and Gellar is leading the development of what we believe to be the real estate investing industry’s most innovative app available. Just like the future was bright for Connected Investors, without question, the future for Gellar is bright.
As companies, institutions and people continue to involve and invest themselves in the success of others, I believe the pay-it-forward cycle of success has the potential to spark opportunity, innovation and jobs. If there is any shortcut to success, it comes from connections. My own experience as part of the entrepreneurial community has certainly proven that to be true.
It gets even more interesting once tech companies like mine start to sell. That liquidity event allows the founders of a company to invest in other companies, thus continuing the cycle as they become mentors and guide future entrepreneurs to the same kind of success.
Ross Hamilton is founder and CEO of Connected Investors.