As an entrepreneur, Jim has long had a passion for teaching young people how to start and run businesses and reach for their dreams. In 2010, Jim began teaching entrepreneurship to undergraduate students at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. After opening his office on Franklin Street to his students so they could work on their business ideas, Jim soon ran out of space. Out of Jim’s office, the Franklin Innovation Center was born.
Seeing there was a real need for bona fide incubation space in town, Jim coordinated with town, county and University leaders to open up Launch Chapel Hill in 2012. Launch was voted a top 5 university accelerator. While Launch is an accelerator for later-stage start-ups, Jim wanted to do something to help students working on early stage ideas like the ones set up in his office. The following year Jim opened 1789 Venture Lab, an incubator for student-run start-ups, just a couple of hundred feet from his office.
Located above Four Corners, 1789 currently houses dozens of ventures and organizations. The incubator provides young entrepreneurs with free shared office space, mentors (including Jim) and pro bono services, including legal, accounting and communications. Along with Launch and other important people and organizations, 1789 is part of a growing and vibrant entrepreneurial community in Chapel Hill.