Flywheel Launches New Ventures Challenge 2017

(Last Updated On: January 17, 2017)

Screen Shot 2017-01-17 at 3.51.57 PM copyWinston-Salem, NC—January 16, 2017— Flywheel announced the launch of the New Ventures Challenge 2017, the second annual business idea competition that awards up to eight startup business teams the opportunity for an average of $50,000 each in seed funding and months of business development and acceleration.

The challenge is sponsored by Flywheel New Ventures, LLC, an inception stage investment club composed of successful Triad area entrepreneurs who collectively invest in the challenge, the selected companies, as well as the accelerator.

Flywheel recently announced it is moving to the Center for Design Innovation (CDI) in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter where the accelerator will be based. The accelerator will run from June through August, followed by a two month residency to help the startup teams develop their ideas into investable business models.

“The 2016 Challenge and Accelerator were so successful that almost all of the investors are migrating to this year’s fund”, said Peter Marsh, Flywheel cofounder and New Venture investor. “There is interest all over the Triad. We had over 230 companies apply last year, so the selection pool for investment was very strong, and the majority of the cohort companies are successfully attracting follow-on financing, a key success metric for the accelerator. ”

New Venture’s role as an inception stage fund means it typically provides the first outside capital for a startup. Joel Bennett, the director of the New Ventures Accelerator explains that, “New Ventures was the first acceleration program in the Triad to offer pre-seed money to startups. This was the one puzzle piece we needed to really fuel inception stage momentum in the Triad. New Ventures elevated the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Triad to the same playing field as Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham.”

“The big win at the end of the accelerator is for these companies to receive more investment capital, as they create value for the company, investors and community,” says Bennett.

One of the 2016 cohort companies was Ampogee, who went on to win an additional grant from the NC Idea Fund and has the interest of the local angel community. “”The investment from the New Ventures club enabled us to make a key technical hire that will elevate our business to the next level, said Ampgee cofounder Jonathan Wohan. “We never could have done it without them!”

“New Ventures gave us the courage to pursue Leading Role as a startup” said Hannah Ashford, cofounder of the Winston-Salem based VR content studio. “Their accelerator framework, the preparation for Demo Day, and the follow-on advisors have been invaluable.”

For the investors in New Ventures, participation is more than just the opportunity to get in early on companies that can scale. Richard Starets, a New Ventures investor and founder of Small Footprint, one of the leading software development companies in Winston-Salem explains, “The camaraderie and diversity of the investor group and quality of the entrepreneurs was impressive. While it is hard work to sort through them all, we had both quality and quantity of selection, and there are some investment-worthy entrepreneurs and great ideas right here close to home.”

The business challenge statement is broad and will consider any ideas in the categories of Business or Consumer Software Development and Applications, IT and Informatics, High Technology, and Device Innovation.

Of particular interest are software and hardware ideas that intersect with the Triad’s regional vertical domains like healthcare, biotech, aerospace, logistics, arts, and many others. The full challenge statement can be viewed at .

“We have very strong networks across the state, the Southeast and nationally that include NGO’s focused on entrepreneurship, angel investors, online startup platforms, coworking spaces, and Google for Entrepreneurs”, said Peter Marsh. “The 2017 Challenge will be published and marketed through these networks and platforms.”

“We are especially grateful to the Wake Forest Community Law and Business Clinic for their ongoing service to the New Ventures Challenge and LLC,” says Brad Bennett. “They handle all of the legal work involved with the New Ventures term sheets, agreements and membership structure. They have been a fantastic resource.”

“This year”, continues Brad, “we are excited to see our CDI program partnership with The UNC School of the Arts, Winston Salem State University, and Forsyth Technical Community College add a new dimension of participation from students and faculty. Most of the new jobs created in the US economy come from startups, and it takes the commitment of institutions, the local entrepreneurs, and the local community to make it happen.”

Flywheel will provide workspace at CDI for selected challenge teams during the finalists briefing and final pitch weekend, and organize resources and mentors to help each team develop their concepts and commercialization plans.

The challenge is being administered by the Flywheel Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a startup ecosystem and tech skill development in the Triad, with a specific focus on gender, racial and economic diversity.

The four companies that won investments in the 2016 Challenge and New Ventures Accelerator were:

  • Ampogee, Piedmont Triad, offering a performance management software that engages employees in their own productivity and gives employers interactive tools for tracking and encouraging transparency and efficiency.
  • Scout IoT, Piedmont Triad, designing wireless sensors for commercial building control and manufacturing plants that are used for condition monitoring and alerts.
  • Petrics, Wilmington, North Carolina, helping pet owners care for their pets by creating health tracking products that improve quality of life.
  • Leading Role Studios, Winston-Salem, developing fully-realized dimensional environment content for virtual reality systems that make users the heroes of their own stories.

New Ventures 2016 investors getting milestone updates from 2016 cohort companies at Flywheel.

Full details on the challenge, the sponsor and the administrator are available at . 

About Flywheel New Ventures 2017 LLC

The Challenge is made possible by Flywheel New Ventures 2017, LLC (Sponsor), which is a membership based investment organization of local entrepreneurs in the Triad Region of North Carolina. All members are active investors who select the competition winners and make subsequent investments. The funds raised by this organization are for the purpose of funding the New Ventures Challenge, the Flywheel New Ventures Accelerator, and for investing in selected startups. All investment decisions are made by majority vote and rely heavily on milestone achievement by the selected teams during and after the accelerator session.

About Flywheel and The Flywheel Foundation:

The Flywheel Foundation (Administrator) administers the Challenge on behalf of Flywheel New Ventures 2017 LLC. Flywheel LLC provides workspace for selected challenge teams during the finalist briefing and final pitch weekend, runs the accelerator, and organizes the resources and mentors for development of teams’ concepts and commercialization plans.

Flywheel LLC is a 10,000 SF Coworking innovation space that provides a community workspace concept for startups, consultants and freelancers in the form of membership plans tailored to their needs, network resources, and programming focused on technology skills and business development. Flywheel hosts numerous activities focused on startups including Startup Weekend and Startup Grind fireside chats, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs.


The Flywheel Foundation is a sister non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a healthy entrepreneurship ecosystem through education, research, events, innovation challenges and business accelerators.


About the Center for Design Innovation – The Center for Design Innovation is a multi-campus research center of the University of North Carolina system. Part laboratory, part workshop and part convening space, the Center is a visual gateway to a newly emerging Winston-Salem and the greater Piedmont Triad Region. Located in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, the Center is a new kind of incubator engine powering people across a region long known for its innovations in manufacturing and the arts, the Center works broadly with academic, business, and local community organizations along with its founding partners Winston-Salem State University; UNC School of the Arts; and Forsyth Technical Community College. Recent research projects include: scientific visualization and communication with immersive music and media, Motion-Capture research in group behavior patterns, dynamic techniques and collaborations for interpreting cutting-edge scientific research for laypeople. Recent workshops/courses include Design Thinking for young women, NCPTA 3-D design and prototyping competition, and Motion Capture for WSSU and UNCSA students.

About Wake Forest Innovation Quarter – Flywheel is located in the heart of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter that adjoins the Winston-Salem, NC central business district. It is one of the fastest growing urban-based innovation communities in the United States, with a master plan for as much as 6 million square feet of world-class office, laboratory and mixed-used space over its 145 developable acres.