NC State College of Engineering Building

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Local universities continue to be one of our startup community's greatest assets—not only do they educate and produce talent that feeds into the startup community but they train students to become entrepreneurs and they employ professors and researchers who develop and commercialize groundbreaking innovation. 

There's a team of people on every campus that help to connect faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members with various programs and opportunities, all to promote innovation and economic development in the state of North Carolina.

In the first of a series of Q&As with university leaders across the state, meet some of the folks making it happen at NC State University.

Megan Greer at NC State

Megan Greer 

Director of Communications and Outreach for the Entrepreneurship Initiative 

Brief overview of your job/role with the university 
I am responsible for the strategy, planning and execution of co-curricular programming, lead outreach and engagement activities where I serve as the primary liaison for external partners, and oversee EI communications efforts. 
 
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
My background is in sales and marketing, including a stint as a sales representative with Kellogg’s and several years in the Office of Admissions at Meredith College. My first real exposure to the entrepreneurial lifestyle came when I married my husband, who started a technology company while he was a student at NC State. You can read more about that on the EI’s blog! All of these experiences led me to the position here at NC State. 
 
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I’m really proud of the new programs and events we’ve introduced over the past few years. At our inaugural Entrepalooza (NC State’s outdoor entrepreneurship and innovation festival) event last fall, I was amazed at the number of students who attended and experienced first-hand all of the opportunities in entrepreneurship available to them. It’s also the day-to-day things that give me a sense of pride, like seeing rooms full of students working together in the Garage to create the next big idea. 
 
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
Although I’ve met lots of impressive entrepreneurs locally and on our Fall Break and Spring Break trips to New York and Silicon Valley, I’m most impressed by what our students have accomplished at such a young age. Getting to see the growth and development of these entrepreneurs from companies you probably now know, such as Undercover Colors, Frill, Bee Downtown and Offline (just to name a few), makes me feel like I’m on the ground floor of something very special. I get to say I knew them when! 
 
A fun fact about yourself? 
I won’t pass up an opportunity to challenge anyone in Dance Central. What I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm! 
 
Matthew Davis of Reveal Mobile NCSU Alumni Network

Matthew Davis 

 
What is your job/role with the university? 
I serve as chair of the NC State Alumni Entrepreneur Network. Collectively we work to make sure alumni entrepreneurs stay connected with each other and with the university. We host entrepreneurship events that highlight NC State alumni entrepreneurs, and frequent happy hours. 
 
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
My first business was selling hand-woven baskets, which I weaved (woved?), to my parents’ friends and co-workers. Since then I’ve held almost every job imaginable from Arby’s cashier to valet to pool boy. I owned and operated a window washing business in college. Our motto was “Windows so clean, you can see through them.” Ahh…college. I sold that business after five years because I was afraid of heights. Reveal Mobile is the fifth company I’ve been a founder of, and my third mobile focused startup. 
 
Tying all of this back to my role as the alumni network chair, the intent is to make sure the university hears the voices of their entrepreneurs. We serve as one conduit to that end. Being able to see the world from an entrepreneur’s viewpoint ensures the university builds programs, education, and services that support their entrepreneurial community. 
 
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I’m most proud of the work our team has done to grow the community and events. This year they've really stepped up to deliver incredible programming. We’ve covered entrepreneurs in food science, biotech, fashion, tech and food, while doing a better job of involving our female entrepreneurs. Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? Anyone who is willing to start a business of any kind gets my respect. 
 
What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
In the span of one year, I quit my job to start a business while simultaneously getting my MBA at NC State, then welcomed twins into the family, then moved to a new house, then went without income for 14 months. That added a few wrinkles and gray hairs. 
 
Gary Beckman NCSU

Gary Beckman 

 
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
Ph.D. in musicology aside, I spent a significant part of life in popular and Renaissance music: performing, touring, education, etc. Besides a number of arts consulting gigs, my most successful business was founding a small record and distribution company in New England. 

What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
Too many to mention. However, when my students can really see how an entrepreneurial life in the arts (ie: a dream) is “actually” possible, it’s a moment beyond description. Helping to provide that life choice is an absolute honor. 
 
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
Canadian artist Sid Dickins. He’s got a great business model and great art. We explore his work and business extensively in our Foundations in Arts Entrepreneurship course. I should add extreme artist Phillip Gray for the same reasons. 
 
That said, we have so many students who have such new and innovative ideas every semester, it’s hard to keep track of them all. What’s impressive is watching students take risks. The decision to move forward with an entrepreneurial lifestyle is a courageous act—and THAT is impressive, each and every time.  

What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
I’ve been a prog-metal guitarist for far too long….who knew? 
 
Elizabeth Benefield NCSU

Elizabeth Benefield 

Social Entrepreneurship Program Manager 
 
What is your job/role with the university? 
My role at NC State is to manage the university's Social Entrepreneurship Initiative. A fairly new program based out of the Institute for Nonprofits, we offer co-curricular (and soon, curricular!) educational offerings to students from every corner of campus bridging STEM and Humanities. Workshops, events, a student network of changemakers, and a new fellows program support students interested in learning about social entrepreneurship and innovation and those working on social enterprise ventures. 
 
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
My career has been a deep dive into nonprofit sector fundraising as an independent consultant and entrepreneur, and 15 years in higher education. 
 
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I am most proud that NC State is embracing the power and importance of social entrepreneurship. 
 
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
Local entrepreneur and soon to be NC State graduate and ThinkHouse Fellow Nate Myers of the Malkuta Project is the most driven, passionate and talented young entrepreneur I've had the privilege to work with. He's unstoppable! 
 
What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
I am dog-obsessed. 
 
wade fulghum ncsu

Wade Fulghum 

Associate Director of Venture Development, Office of Technology Transfer
 
What is your job/role with the university? 
I lead the efforts to launch and support startup companies from NC State that are based on university research. During the last five years, I’ve been responsible for supporting the launch and growth of over 46 startup companies and have launched initiatives including the PackStart Program, the Venture Innovation Partner Network, the Executive-in-Residence program and formalizing a partnership with the CED Venture Mentoring program. 
 
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
I have experience as a small business owner, a startup consultant and in commercial finance and insurance with a Fortune 100 company. I’m also a veteran of the US Army and have an MBA in organizational change management. 
 
I bring over 10 years of experience advising companies and have served as a technology commercialization and development counselor for the North Carolina Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC). I’ve also served in several economic development roles at NC State and now on the International Technology Transfer Network’s International committee, the NC State Alumni Entrepreneurs Network Board, the local SBTDC advisory board and the Innovate Raleigh Task Force. 
 
Earlier this year, I co-founded the Wolfpack Investor Network (WIN) and now serve on the steering committee. 
 
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
  1. Joining forces with Duke and UNC to launch the Wolfpack Investor Network as part of the Triangle Venture Alliance, which includes the Duke Angel Network and the Carolina Angel Network. 
  2. Joining forces with CED through a formal partnership to leverage the CED Venture Mentoring Service for NC State research-based startups and applying for an Economic Development Administration grant together to bring extra support to expand this partnership to UNC, Duke and RTI research-based startups. 
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
Paul Garofalo of Locus Biosciences has incredible vision, drive, leadership, passion and has built such long-lasting relationships. I am very bullish about Locus and the impact they could have on the world through gene editing technology. 
 
What’s a fun fact about yourself? 
We have an aquaponic greenhouse that my family and I run with the help of YouTube. We grow tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and raise tilapia. 
 
Lewis Sheats at NCSU

Lewis Sheats 

Director of the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic and Senior Lecturer of Entrepreneurship in the Poole College of Management 
 
What is your job/role with the university? 
I lead the undergraduate entrepreneurship concentration & minor offered by the Poole College of Management, as well as direct the NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic. Within our program we provide experiential learning, embed our students in the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the Triangle and provide them the tools and resources to execute on their own concepts and opportunities. In doing so, we serve the community through project-based assistance for entrepreneurs and new ventures.  
 
How does your background contribute to your role in entrepreneurship programming? 
The collection of companies I have founded cross several unique industries. I started companies in logistics, medical waste, GPS, finance and cookies! It is a combination of this practical experience and theory that have helped us create an experiential immersion for the students at NC State.   
 
What’s an extra proud moment from your time in your role? 
I have several, but here’s one—a student entered our program with very little confidence and sense of self-worth. To see his growth in the classes and his success after graduation makes me extremely proud and validates that what we are doing makes a big difference in young entrepreneurs’ lives.  
 
Who is the most impressive entrepreneur you’ve come into contact with through your work, and why? 
I have taught 500+ students in our capstone course in the entrepreneurship concentration. Many of them have launched successful companies or become integral leaders in new ventures or entrepreneurial units of larger firms. For me to pick one is impossible. 
 
A fun fact about yourself? 
I like to freestyle when I sing along to a song. Sometimes, I do it when I don’t realize people are close enough to hear.