When people talk about business opportunity in North Carolina, they’re typically referring to the strong business communities in Charlotte and the Raleigh-Durham area. But thanks to a blooming innovation ecosystem in southeastern NC, that is starting to change. 

Here’s a list of eight game-changer companies riding the wave out of Wilmington and into the rest of the world: 

Connected Investors 

Because real estate investment is naturally a network-oriented space, where buyers, sellers and investors come together to make a deal, Ross Hamilton hoped to translate this system digitally to increase the number of opportunities and connections. 
This would not only boost his own endeavors, it would also accelerate real estate investment statewide, then even nation-wide. 
After earning significant profit from a fix-and-flip property in 2005, Hamilton decided to launch his own website called Connected Investors, where buyers, sellers,and funders can all negotiate transactions in an online marketplace. The company specializes in residential properties, whether fix-and-flip or buy-and-hold. 
Having such a blueprint is vital, Schmidt believes, because otherwise the end goals of a client may not be properly articulated. The more clarity of vision between agency and client, the more efficient and successful the process. 
And his strategy has paid off. 
“After January 2011, because of the nation’s slow economic recovery, the company where I worked full-time was cutting back everyone’s hours,” Schmidt says. “I asked to be laid off so I could fully focus on DesignLoud. Each year since then, we’ve doubled or tripled our revenue.” 

Onward and upward

As southeastern NC continues to innovate and provide key baseline services to help startups scale their businesses, it’s only a matter of time until Wilmington gets recognized as an up-and-coming U.S. tech hub.