A day in Wilmington at the Coastal Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference revealed some pretty interesting, headline-grabbing young companies. Though I met some of these entrepreneurs during a visit in March, I’m struck again by the diversity of ideas in Wilmington and the national traction and attention these companies have received despite their small beach town digs.
So check them out below – 11 young companies to watch in Wilmington.
The App That Refines Your Taste
Next Glass is weeks from launching its app that uses an algorithm based on the chemical makeup of wine and beer to make recommendations based on a user’s palette. The startup founded by Kurt Taylor (pictured above) and chaired by his father, serial entrepreneur George Taylor, will also announce a funding round in coming weeks. In the meantime, it has secured Harris Teeter CEO Thomas Dickson as a board member and is in the process of moving its growing workforce into two floors of a downtown Wilmington building (owned by James Goodnight, the real estate entrepreneur and son of SAS Institute founder Jim Goodnight).
The Bottle that Simulates the Breast
A pediatrician and psychiatrist in Nashville got together with an IDEO designer in 2009 to rethink the baby bottle. Too many moms were frustrated that their babies wouldn’t take a bottle, or once they did, they wouldn’t go back to the breast. Mimijumi bottles sold out quickly to buyers in countries around the world, bringing in $500,000 in sales but creating a supply/demand problem for the team. Moms so desperate for the bottles bid up to $100 a bottle on eBay and Amazon.
Wilmington’s Seahawk Innovation Fund caught wind of the product and made an investment, bringing in CEO Brendan Collins and CMO Rocco Quaranto (who launched the Fuzzy Peach frozen yogurt chain) to lead the operation (and move it to NC), restart manufacturing, oversee the development of new products and distribute the products globally. With a new deal with France’s largest retail chain (1750 stores) and a second with a large U.S. chain in 2015, mimijumi expects to sell 300,000 bottles next year. It’s also looking for additional investors.