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N.C. State’s Triangle Entrepreneurship Week with Andy Albright

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina State University’s Entrepreneurship Initiative held its annual Entrepreneurs Lecture Series at the McKimmon Center on Monday afternoon, kicking off the Triangle Entrepreneurship Week.

Heather Hesketh (founder of, John Harthorne (founder and CEO of MassChallenge) and Andy Albright (founder, president and CEO of National Agents Alliance) were the three featured guest speakers, and were joined on stage by moderator Tom Miller, the executive director of the Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Hesketh was the first speaker and encouraged the 300 in attendance to find something you love doing so much that “you just can’t not do it.” is an Internet technology consultancy working with corporate marketing, sales, graphic design and public relations professionals. Hesketh is an N.C. State graduate. She challenged those in attendance to take the opportunities that present themselves, even if you are not exactly sure where they will lead you.

“It’s never easy to start a business; why not just do it?” she said.

Harthorne’s company is a startup competition and accelerator designed to catalyze a startup renaissance by connecting high-impact startups from around the world with the resources they need to launch and succeed. The first annual competition launched in April 2010 and 16 winners split a prize pool of $1 million in cash in October 2010. In the first 12 months since joining the 2010 MassChallenge accelerator program, the first group of 111 MassChallenge startups raised more than $90 million in outside funding and created nearly 500 new jobs. The 2011 MassChallenge competition received more than 730 applications from 34 states and 24 countries.

Harthorne said people have great ideas all the time, but the ideas do not always stand out to potential investors. He urged students and aspiring entrepreneurs to ask questions and take advantage of the technological world at their disposal.

“Find some kind of initiative that you can rally other people around and get people excited about is the number one thing you have to do out in the field,” Harthorne said. “You are always selling your vision and trying to get people excited about it.”

Andy Albright encouraged students and entrepreneurs to be bold in their approach to becoming self-employed. He also said finding consultants that know more than you is vital when trying to get a company off the ground.

“Consult with others and get as much input as possible from others that are smarter than you,” Albright said. “There are so many ideas out there that there has to be a way to find something that will work for you.”

Miller moderated a question and answer session with the three speakers to wrap up the event.

Triangle Entrepreneurship Week was created out of a desire to bolster the thriving business community in the Triangle area; a region that is nicknamed the “new silicon valley” (NewsWeek 10’). Designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs, the multi-faceted symposium aims to increase the awareness of North Carolina’s startup entrepreneur community, provide a networking platform and foster creativity. Attendees will walk away with applicable knowledge, resources and opportunities specific to their industry.

From Nov. 14-18, Triangle EW will focus on various industry groups such as Digital & Mobile Media, Women in business, Food & Restaurant industry and ‘Eco Entrepreneurism’ just to name a few. Entrepreneurs will find unique value through a wealth of content directly designed for each industry.

Through a series of panel discussions, Roundtables and forums designed to integrate educational opportunities with interactive discussions.

This week was designed and founded by a group of entrepreneurs to ignite and support discussion about entrepreneurship in the Triangle.


National Agents Alliance is an innovative lead generation and marketing organization that sells life insurance, annuities, and other financial services products through more than 7,000 active independent sales representatives in 50 states. Focused on serving middle-income families, National Agents Alliance is the No. 1 United States provider of mortgage protection insurance and offers a broad array of other affordable products from highly regarded companies such as Mutual of Omaha, Foresters, and ING. Since its inception in 2002, National Agents Alliance has helped more than 670,000 families successfully apply for more than $78 billion in life insurance coverage.

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