For as long as he can remember, Jeff has been fascinated by entrepreneurship. Prior to becoming the Director of Entrepreneurship at Venture Asheville, he graduated from the University of Florida with a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship. He’s taught entrepreneurship, written a book about entrepreneurship, and is even an entrepreneur himself—selling one of his startups about two years ago.

Considering we’ve had a podcast about Asheville-based entrepreneurs for over a year, we’re about a year late in having Jeff on the show. We hope you’ll agree that the wait has been worth it.

Here’s What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • Jeff’s background story and many entrepreneurial endeavors
  • How Venture Asheville fits in Asheville’s Chamber of Commerce (ranked America’s top Chamber of Commerce this past year)
  • What Venture Asheville is, how it helps new businesses scale, and its three main programs, including mentorship, funding, and events
  • The core competencies of successful entrepreneurs based on real case studies that Jeff and his team have conducted
  • Resources for Asheville-based entrepreneurs and which ones are best for different stages of the business
  • What the goal of the Asheville Impact Micro-Grant program is and how to apply
  • Jeff also shares his pitches for three businesses he’s worked on in the past (and one he is currently working on now)

Enjoyed this interview? We think you might also dig this episode with Andrew Nehlig of Sauna House.

Show Notes

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About Jeff Kaplan

Jeff Kaplan is the Director of Venture Asheville (more on that below!).

Concurrently, Jeff is leading a startup of his own, JustKibbitz, a new kind of dating site where parents do the matchmaking. He’s also the local director of VentureSouth’s Angel Investment Group, the Asheville Angels.

Prior to leading Venture Asheville, Jeffrey earned his Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and instructed in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida. He is a published author in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy, launched and sold pet-tech startup Dogphrendly as an alumnus of the Groundwork Labs accelerator in Durham, and was Product Owner and Consultant in digital product development at Anthroware.

In the community, Jeffrey serves on the State of North Carolina’s Board of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Vice-Chairman on the Mountain Capital Community Fund, Board Member of the Hatch AVL Foundation, Board of Directors Member and Secretary of the Asheville JCC, and advisor to UNCA’s Center of Jewish Studies.

About Venture Asheville

Venture Asheville is the high-growth entrepreneurship initiative of the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County and the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. The program’s work centers on catalyzing Asheville’s high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem and connecting entrepreneurs with startup funding, mentors, and talent to scale their ventures.

Other Notes from this Episode

Venture Asheville Programs

Asheville Entrepreneurship Week is an annual, week-long celebration that highlights Asheville’s growing startups, innovative businesses, and entrepreneurs from every industry. The program is hosted by both Hatch AVL and Venture Asheville.

Elevate is a free mentorship program designed to help new businesses navigate the practical, day-to-day challenges of building great companies and develop their skills as effective managers, leaders, and CEOs.

Venture 15 Awards is an annual awards ceremony that honors Asheville’s 15 fastest growing startups and the people and organizations that make Asheville a place for startups to thrive.

Asheville Startup Road Trip helps a small group of Asheville-area startups fundraise for their businesses in surrounding cities such as Charlotte, Durham, and Winston Salem.

Asheville Impact Micro Grant provides $5,000 micro grants for early-stage startups in Buncombe and Haywood County.

Other Resources for Entrepreneurs
ScaleUp WNC provides intensive growth strategy development and implementation assistance to cohorts of 15 small businesses. Western North Carolina businesses with strong potential for growth and job creation have the opportunity to apply to participate in this highly competitive program. The program is hosted by Hatch and Mountain Biz Works.

Big Scary Fish Tank is a live pitch event in Asheville where local entrepreneurs compete to win a game-changing financial infusion from the city’s top investors.

One Million Cups of Coffee is a free, weekly pitch event that gathers downtown. Each week, one to two founders pitch their business to like-minded entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, and supporters of Asheville’s growing startup scene. And there’s free coffee!

Talent Jam is a one-of-a-kind pitch event that authentically connects job seekers with local opportunities and employers within their community, and beyond!

Dig South Tech Summit is where leading global brands connect with the South’s most innovative tech companies.

Businesses that Venture Asheville has worked with:

Moonlight Makers is a silly puns T-shirt and gift shop. We interviewed founders, Nicole and Claire, in episode 052.

French Broad Chocolates is an Asheville-based chocolate confectionery and bakery.

3 Mountains Tea sources and produces premium, organic, and fair-trade teas from Rwanda.

Other Local Businesses
Aux Bus is a simple & affordable podcast solution that lets you plan, record, and launch all in one place.

Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours is an award-winning rooftop bar tour featuring stunning sky views and fun bits of history.

Dogwood Health Trust s a North Carolina nonprofit corporation with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and well-being of all people and communities across Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust is the successor foundation of the nonprofit Mission Health System.

Hatch AVL Foundation is a 501(c)3 uniquely supporting high growth startups with a proven Playbook, Programs, and Partnerships to grow the next $10M companies in Asheville.

Anthroware is a US-based team of brilliant strategists, developers, designers, and engineers who build software for humans.

Jeff’s Startups:
Chef Sleeves
Just Kibbitz is a new kind of dating site where parents do the matchmaking,

Principles & Concepts
Intrepreneur vs. Entrepreneur

Corridor Principle is, according to BPlans Glossary, “where an entrepreneurial venture may find that it has significantly changed its focus from the initial concept of the venture as it has continually responded and adapted to its market and the desire to optimize profitability potential.”

Kaleidoscope Thinking is a mindset or strategy that requires you to re-arrange what you see and imagine new arrangements, new patterns, new groupings.

Jon Jones is the President/CEO and Founder of Anthroware.
Josh Dorfman is former Director of Venture Asheville, now currently the CEO and Founder of Simbly.
Dan Radan is the founder of Auxbus.

Roswell is a small town located in the north metropolitan suburbs of Atlanta, GA.
All Day Darling is is a cafe’ located in Montford that serves an all-day menu of market-focused food.

TV Shows & Movies
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is comedy/drama TV show about a 1950’s Jewish housewife who turns into a comedian after divorcing her husband.
Star Trek

Music by Commonwealth Choir

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