By Chris Shelton, exiting Executive Director of StartWheel
StartWheel is starting a new chapter. As of September 1st, I have officially handed over the reigns of day-to-day operations to Tim Ryan. It had become nearly impossible to manage growth at my own businesses while concurrently fulfilling the mission of StartWheel. I’ve learned that growing a business is generally not suited for part-time work. This reality became certain several months ago, and I began planning for a smooth transition at StartWheel.
With support and leadership from StartWheel’s board, I proudly accepted the challenge to build a digital hub to showcase the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. That was 18 months ago. Since then, StartWheel celebrated all things entrepreneurship at 757 Launch, hosted ten 757Pitch events, grew a significant email newsletter audience, evangelized the breadth of resources and startups in the region through curated content. We currently host more than 200 resources in the directory and have published over 2,000 local events on our calendar. All of this, and I still feel that I’ve learned much more from the community than I’ve given.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that’s how I’ve felt about StartWheel throughout my tenure. None of StartWheel’s success would have been possible without the generosity of monetary and in-kind support provided by so many in our community. Simply mentioning StartWheel to one of your peers is worth a million thanks. With that, I thank each and every one of you!
As you might imagine, this is a bittersweet moment for me—but I trust it’s a great moment for the startup community. The board and I carefully thought about the qualities that StartWheel’s next executive director should possess. He or she should be someone with genuine entrepreneurial experience, who knows a lot more than I do about website development, and who has expressed leadership qualities in guiding entrepreneurs through ecosystem development programming. Tim has all those boxes checked and many more. He recently finished his directorship at the Launchpad after 5 years and has played an integral role in producing Start Peninsula for 8 years running. He is also the co-founder of Arcphor, a web development company. Tim’s network and relationships with founders, ecosystem leaders, and economic development professionals run deep throughout the region. As an original member of StartWheel’s Board of Directors, Tim is already intimately familiar with our mission to be the hub of news, events, and resources in the regional startup ecosystem.
What am I going to be doing now? Glad you asked! I will retain a seat on StartWheel’s board and remain an active supporter of other entrepreneurship programs in the region. You can bet I’m keeping both eyes open for opportunities to help Hampton Roads-based startups and founders of all sorts. So while I’m saddened to be vacating my directorship position with StartWheel, I am thoroughly excited to be giving my full attention to Cure Coffeehouse and Cureo Coffee Liqueur going forward. Steve Blank defines a startup as “a temporary organization used to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” What started as a quaint little coffee shop, Cure is intent on finding a scalable and repeatable business model within the ever-evolving coffee and hospitality industry. To that end, we recently revamped our catering services and launched a mobile coffee bar that brings the Cure experience to weddings, corporate events, pop-ups, and more! Visit www.curecoffeehouse.com for more info. Direct inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, I would like to thank all of you for your unwavering support of StartWheel over the last year and a half. I kindly ask that you continue supporting it under Tim Ryan’s leadership. Those who know me also know that I rarely turn down a meeting request—so for anyone interested in grabbing lunch or coffee, feel free to reach out!
StartWheel’s mission is to centralize and mobilize efforts that foster the growth of entrepreneurism in our regional innovation economy. We aim to support and cultivate an entrepreneurial network in HRVA where talent, resources, information and leadership come together.