Communities, Networks & Memberships
Plug in with these startup networks to get connections, support, mentorship and camaraderie among fellow entrepreneurs:
The Alliance of Women in Tech Leadership is a network of Triangle executives aiming to advance women in technology through collaboration and education.
American Underground is one of Google For Entrepreneurs’ tech hubs. The startup hub offers coworking and office space in three locations in downtown Durham, and hosts fun community events, pitch competitions and workshops. AU also offers its entrepreneurs connections to some of the Triangle’s top tech leaders, through networking events and introductions.
#BlackDollarNC is an online “rolodex” of hundreds of black-owned or operated businesses across North Carolina. The directory is searchable through a broad range of categories, from health and fitness to hemp and clothing to graphic design to real estate. Geographically, the network spans Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Garner, Knightdale, Fayetteville, Wake Forest, Wilson, Greensboro and Charlotte. Read more TechWire coverage of #BlackDollarNC here.
The Black Entrepreneur Initiative at UNC Chapel Hill supports the campus’ community of Black entrepreneurs, creators and innovators. The organization promotes Black-led ventures, provides branding and professional development resources for both current and aspiring Black entrepreneurs, and connects the community through networking events, career opportunities and communication guidance.
The Cary Chamber of Commerce, which aims to advocate for and support the growth of startups and small businesses in the Town of Cary. The organization provides advertising and marketing to help member businesses gain new contacts. It also hosts regular luncheons, seminars and networking events, as well as meetings on governmental relations, economic development and education.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (or the Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro) is made up of 1,000 members, including large and small businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs, and government and nonprofit organizations. It provides programs and events, communication and marketing, advocacy and member-to-member deals for local businesses. The organization serves the Greater Chapel Hill area, including Carrboro and southern Orange, northern Chatham and southwest Durham counties.
Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) is a network of entrepreneurs, innovators, founders, investors, and even some government officials from all over the Triangle. The organization offers mentoring services, capital connections, member meetups and annual conferences. For more information, read CED’s pitch for why entrepreneurs should join here.
Durham Technical Community College’s Small Business Center supports both for-profit and non-profit startups and entrepreneurs by supplying helpful information and tools covering business planning, marketing, legal, accounting, financial management and more areas of business development.
Digital Health Impact + Transformation (DHIT Global) is a hub and resource for startups and research projects in the local health sector. Headed by parent company Bluedoor, DHIT offers tools and strategies, a database of health startup programs and funding options, industry news and insights, and has gained a member base of Triangle stakeholders including the Duke Global Digital Health Science Center, NC IDEA, American Underground, RIoT, Innovate Carolina, RTI International, as well as local health-industry companies. DHIT hosts monthly Digital Health Happy Hours for the community.
DukeGEN is an organization of over 5,000 entrepreneurs and industry leaders who are part of Duke University’s alumni network.
The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce helps its members connect with hundreds of business owners and managers in the city’s market. Companies join the network to expand exposure for their business to a wider network of investors and partners. There are plenty of networking events, community workshops and business training programs offered as well.
First Flight Venture Center is a Research Triangle Park-based incubator that offers several programs for tech and science-focused startups, granting them access to mentors, funding, connections and resources. The Center offers physical and virtual membership options. It also houses a coworking space and prototyping facility. Since its inception in 1991, FFVC has hosted over 300 companies with a combined value of over $8 billion and has helped issue 44 patents to client companies. Current residents have raised $70 million since FFVC’s start.
Innovate Raleigh is a not-for-profit startup support organization that’s run in partnership with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. Through events, ecosystem resources and a wide network of stakeholders, Innovate Raleigh is dedicated to boosting entrepreneurship in the Triangle, particularly among underserved communities.
Based in Durham, the NC Biosciences Organization is a trade association that promotes research and commercialization in life science industries. Members get access to industry events and programs, and connections to legislators at the local, state and federal levels.
The North Carolina Community College System has 58 Small Business Centers in the state, from the mountains to the coast. Each center provides training, resources, government procurement services and counseling for startups and small businesses. Use this map to run a search of Small Business Centers near you.
The NC Life Sciences Virtual Networking Group is a collective of entrepreneurs and professionals within the local life sciences community who meet regularly online to network and share ideas. The group launched virtually in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Carolina Small Business Technology & Development Center offers a host of resources and business development programs for local startups. Funding avenues are also available.
NC State eGarbage is a collaborative prototyping space for students who want to take their business ideas to the next level and test them in a practical setting. The facility is open to students 24/7.
The NC State Office of Technology Commercialization and New Ventures offers accelerators, launch programs and inventor’s resources for university-based startups ready to protect, market and license their product.
NC TECH (North Carolina Technology Association) fosters growth and innovation in North Carolina’s technology sector, cultivating a network of corporations, investors, small and medium sized companies, startups, nonprofits and institutional stakeholders in the state’s innovation economy. The organization offers an NC TECH for Startups membership option to provide increased visibility and credibility, business connections and additional perks for North Carolina’s growing startup ecosystem.
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is a central connector for the state’s university researchers, startups, job seekers and job providers within the life sciences sector. The organization, which is supported by the NC General Assembly, offers grants, business loans and awards to emerging biotech ventures. It’s headquartered in Research Triangle Park, with offices in Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greenville and Wilmington.
Pitch Space is a platform where early-stage, seed-stage and growth-stage startups can publish their pitches for an audience of investors in the Southeast. Every month, startups can apply to present their pitch to investors in a livestreamed event. The platform is run by Flywheel Coworking, a startup incubator and coworking space based in Winston-Salem.
Raleigh Founded (formerly known as HQ Raleigh) is a membership-based space promoting collaboration and peer-to-peer connection for startups. Four locations in Raleigh are home to several regular networking events, lectures, fireside chats and workshops.
Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, headquartered in Research Triangle Park, is a network of academics, scientists, government leaders, business executives and professionals operating in the clean energy space.
The Research Triangle Regional Partnership is an economic development organization serving 10 counties in central North Carolina. RTRP helps make connections for businesses looking to expand or relocate, and supports the region’s economic development offices, government agencies and businesses.
RIoT represents a network of technologists, engineers, business leaders, academics, policy-makers and entrepreneurs, all of whom have a stake in the Internet of Things industry. Companies ranging from startups to international heavyweights meet frequently to exchange ideas, to learn new technologies and to create new opportunities. More coverage here.
Based in Morrisville, TiE Carolinas is a not-for-profit organization that provides mentoring, education, networking, funding and incubation for startups in the Carolinas. The organization is part of a global network that spans more than 60 chapters.
The Triangle East Chamber of Commerce encompasses Smithfield, Selma and neighboring communities located east of the Research Triangle region, including Kenly, Princeton and Wilson’s Mills. The organization provides support and community for local startups and businesses, and leads programs promoting workforce development and economic growth.
Wake Tech Entrepreneurship Initiatives promotes entrepreneurialism as a way of thinking and being, as well as a process for creating new business and social ventures. They design and implement intensive courses and programs for business owners and entrepreneurs that include LaunchMyCity, the Veterans Entrepreneurship Advantage (VEA) program, and StartUP@WakeTech, a program that matches entrepreneurs with Wake Tech classes for mutual benefit. In collaboration with the Wake Tech Small Business Center, they also provide information that current and prospective business owners need for expanding or starting a small business.
WE Power Food provides resources, training seminars, networking and other types of support to women entrepreneurs in the food industry. The organization was formed out of the Piedmont Food Processing Center, a food incubator located in Hillsborough.
Women In Bio is a membership organization made up of thousands of professionals who are committed to promoting careers, leadership and entrepreneurship of women in the life sciences sector. The national organization has a RTP chapter that meets regularly throughout the Triangle.