Eship Center: A Year in Review

Tuesday December 1, 2020

The Center’s new initiatives of 2020

After an intensive year of strategic planning under new leadership, the Eship Center restructured programming to focus on two initiatives: 1) supporting scale and growth stage startups and the skill sets that accompany that stage of venture development and  2) integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into all programming. 

To support students and ventures that are in the scale and growth stages, we developed the Innovation Pipeline. The pipeline selects and places students, who are supervised by faculty, into ventures which are scaling and growing. This can add value, both to the ventures and to the students. After launching our new version of Startup Consulting for MBAs in fall 2019, we launched our new Innovation Internships program in spring 2020 with 18 students placed in 15 local startups. We added a new MBA Managing the Growth Business course taught by Ted Zoller that focuses on the challenges and opportunities of managing a growing company and emphasizes practical management methods. Additionally, to better serve our community of business leaders and professionals we launched Scale School in fall 2020. Scale School courses are non-credit-bearing, short in nature, and delivered virtually. Topics include: B2B sales; negotiations; succession planning; and establishing and growing and inclusive culture.

Under Vickie Gibb’s leadership, the Eship Center began integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into everything we do. At the start of 2020, we brought on an Assistant Director of Community Engagement, Keysha Jones, with a focus on leading our DEI efforts. Keysha created a DEI committee and together the group created a DEI Statement for our Center and meet biweekly to share best practices and build resources for the team. Part of Keysa’s focus also includes creating community webinars– focus areas range from black entrepreneurs networking nights to our Luminary series featuring prominent entrepreneurs and in partnership with the American Underground and Raleigh Founded. We saw a huge need for helping our community navigate COVID and quickly mobilized our Navigating the Great Pause series serving 1,300+ participants over the course of 8 webinars.  We also brought on an undergrad intern, Caitlyn Kumi, focused solely on DEI. Caitlyn was the brainchild behind our Eship Scholars program, funded by a $50,000 NC IDEA Ecosystem Grant. We created the Eship Scholars program to celebrate and support students from backgrounds and identities underrepresented in entrepreneurship who display the drive and qualities of a successful entrepreneur, but who may not self-identify as an entrepreneur. Read about our inaugural 2020-2021 cohort here!

Lastly, we launched our Inaugural Trends in Entrepreneurship Report in partnership with the Kenan Institute at the Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Conference in January, 2020 in an effort to broaden both the knowledge base and the conversation around key issues such as founder diversity, funding sources and the value of startup incubators and accelerators. We’ve updated our findings with a June 2020 quarterly report examining the impact of COVID-19 on business, evaluating the efficacy of governmental interventions and providing insights to guide next steps for policymakers, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Both reports combine data with expert analysis, giving timely insights into the topics that significantly affect entrepreneurs, funders, ecosystem partners, policymakers and others in the innovation economy. Check out our most recent quarterly report focusing on the research supporting hiring diverse teams.

Plans for for 2021

  • Scale and Growth: In 2021, we will more deeply integrate with businesses in our community. One example includes partnering with the RTP Foundation in order to work more closely with the businesses there. This will provide hands-on learning for our students through internships and consulting projects, additional research opportunities through our Trends in Entrepreneurship Report and case studies, and opportunities to provide expertise to the businesses through Scale School.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Next year, we will continue to expand our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs and support. This includes continuing Eship Scholars, providing additional affinity group community support, scholarships for Scale School and Launch Chapel Hill, and DEI training for our stakeholders. 
  • Thought Leadership: In April 2021, we will release our second annual Trends in Entrepreneurship report, and in June 2021, we will host VC University LIVE in partnership with the NVCA and UC Berkeley Law.   


If you are interested in making a tax deductible contribution to help us achieve our 2021 goals, please donate here. If you would like to learn more, please reach out to our Director, Vickie Gibbs (