E-TAP (Entrepreneur Technical Assistance Program)

Through our Entrepreneur Technical Assistance Program (E-TAP), growing companies and start-ups work with the NCGrowth team and our best MBA analysts on a specific company issue or project. Students are selected based on prior work experience and a passion for entrepreneurship. The program aims to help expand start-ups and existing businesses in rural communities. Selected companies have the potential to grow and are in a range of industries from tourism to manufacturing. 

Jasmine Colquitt, dual NCCU MBA/JD student and Kenan Institute intern with Congressman G.K. Butterfield after the final presentations
Jasmine Colquitt, dual NCCU MBA/JD student and Kenan Institute intern with Congressman G.K. Butterfield after the final presentations


Jasmine Colquitt, a dual JD/MBA student at North Carolina Central University worked on Project Phoenix with  E-TAP client, Steve Lane, the founder and President of InteliPort.  Jasmine spent the summer developing a new business plan and strategy for his company.  For the past decade InteliPort has been selling internet access to residents and businesses in some of the most remote areas of northeastern North Carolina; however, recent innovations in fiber optic technology have made it economically feasible to bring high speed broadband to these communities, and that’s what Steve Lane plans to do. From helping to attract new businesses to giving existing companies access to advanced telecommunications, the potential positive economic impact is tremendous.  Along with the fiber network, InteliPort provides security management, network installation, computer repair and service, hosting design, computer backup, and virus protection products. For more information on InteliPort, please visit: https://fiber.inteliport.com/

Shure Foods

Chris Long, Kenan-Flagler MBA student, meets with Gabe Dough, CEO Shure Foods in Washington, NC

Chris Long, an MBA student at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, worked with E-TAP clients Adrian Beasley and Gabe Dough, CFO and CEO, of Shure Foods, to develop a robust inventory system for their raw crab meat extraction company.  Chris said of the project, “It was one of the hardest but most rewarding projects of my career.” Before Shure Foods’ patented extraction process, raw crab meat was not a commercially available product. Extracting the meat while raw increases processing efficiency, improves yields and reduces waste. The company is able to develop crab products at lower cost and higher profit margins than possible with either domestic or foreign crabmeat picking operations. “We now have the potential to change the industry by providing a new niche and increased yields, in addition to the established market for picked, or lump, crabmeat” says Gabe. For more information about Shure Foods, please visit: http://www.shurefoods.com/.

Best Diamond Packaging

Best Diamond Packaging manufactures high quality paper products for the food service industry. Kevin Thorne founded the company in 2003 and worked previously as a computer consultant, corporate banker, and McDonalds’ supply chain management. He has built Best Diamond into the industry elader in dispenser napkins. Kenan-Flagler MBA student Mayank Agrawal has been selected to work with Kevin. Before coming to UNC, Mayank earned degrees in Engineering and Engineering Management from Rochester Institute of Technology and Dartmouth and has worked as a management consultant in Boston.

“I am very pleased to have the assistance of Mayank to help us explore growth opportunities for the company.  The caliber of students selected by the Kenan Institute, coupled with the type of training they receive at UNC gives me high hopes that we will discover some significant avenues for growth here at Best Diamond.”

For more information about Best Diamond, please visit www.bestdiamondpkg.com.

Raised in a Barn Farm

Raised in a Barn Farm is a destination farm and market for local farmers, artisans and crafters in Chocowinity.  This spring they are launching their first community supported agriculture program which allows community members to subscribe to a weekly box of fresh, locally produced foods. The farm hosted their first event after the Chocowinity Christmas Parade in which  hundreds of people came out to support their new business. Kenan-Flagler MBA student Joanna Furgiuele has been selected to work Raised in a Barn Farm. Joanna is concurrently pursuing a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University. She graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Biology and managed educational programs for Sierra Nevada Journeys in Reno, NV before coming to NC.

Jane Boahn, the business’s founder, hopes to capitalize on the new wave of agritourism and support the sustainable, local food movement by helping the community reconnect with the land. “Our hope and dream is that NC Growth can help us with our short-term and long-term business plan that will help our farm grow and benefit the community as a whole. We’re very excited for the future and think we can learn a lot from Joanna and the Kenan Institute.”

For more information about Raised in a Barn Farm, please visit www.raisedinabarnfarm.com

Inner Banks Outfitters

Inner Banks Outfitters is recreation and tourism company that offers bike and kayak sales, rentals and tours and hosts events along the Pamlico River and historic downtown Washington. Founder Liane Harsh started her business seven years ago and has become an integral part of the Washington community.

Kenan-Flagler MBA student Jessie Maxwell has been selected to work with Inner Banks Outfitters. Jessie is concurrently pursuing a Masters of Public Policy at Duke University. Maxwell graduated from Dartmouth College in 2009 and jumped into the world of education as a Teach for America Corps member in Bertie County, NC. She then continued her teaching career at Durham Public Schools and as a Teacher Advisor for TIME for Kids magazine.

For more information about Inner Banks Outfitters, please visit www.innerbanksoutfitters.com

Rise and Grind Coffeehouse

E-TAP Students
UNC MBA student Chris Long with Rise and Grind Coffee House founders Nicole Hawkins, Tekeyla Hassell and Jasmine Cowan

Rise and Grind Coffeehouse is a new café and gathering place coming to downtown Windsor, founded by Nicole Hawkins, Tekeyla Hassell, and Jasmine Cowan. Unique to the area, the coffee shop will serve pastries and light lunches, as well as  offer business services, entertainment nights and an event space.  The founders have varied entrepreneurial experience and business education backgrounds.

Kenan-Flagler MBA student Chris Long has been selected to work with Rise and Grind. Chris graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Analytical Finance. After graduating, he accepted a position with Branch Banking & Trust’s (BB&T) Leadership Development Program and within five years was serving as Associate and Assistant Vice President in BB&T Syndicated Finance group.

For more information about Rise and Grind Coffeehouse, please visit www.facebook.com/riseandgrindbertie.

Carolina Wild

Carolina Wild is a muscadine juice beverage company launching their inaugural product this spring. Founders Dennis Tracz and Elizabeth Maxwell returned to Lenoir County in the summer of 2012 to care for Maxwell’s aging parents. Dennis, a serial entrepreneur, and Elizabeth, a professor and former director of development at James Madison College of Business, wanted to find a better use for farms in NC that tobacco left behind.  Because muscadine grapes, which are indigenous to NC, are very high in antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, fiber and protein, they determined that muscadines could be as profitable as tobacco. Dennis and Elizabeth will bring their special blend of muscadines to market this month.

Kenan-Flagler MBA student Ashwini Rathi earned a degree in architecture at IIT-Roorkee in India and interned with celebrated architect Daniel Libeskind who built Freedom Towers in New York City. He has worked with Dar Group, one of the largest engineering and design consultancies in the world, on projects ranged including 5-Star hotels, military complexes, universities, and the New National Assembly Building in Angola. He also brings practical experience in entrepreneurship from helping with his family’s multi-generational businesses.

Ashwini “is going to implement our program with Amazon.com,” said co-founder Dennis Tracz.  “One project involves promoting chefs and their recipes on the Web, and another will get Carolina Wild juice up for sale on Amazon.com.”

For more information about Carolina Wild, please visit http://carolinawildjuice.com

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Companies Interested in Participating - Apply Now


Student Mayank Agrawal and CEO Kevin Thorne Meet to Discuss One of the E-Tap Projects for the Spring


Student Joanna Furgiuele Meets with the Team At Raised in a Barn Farm in Chocowinity


Kenan-Flagler MBA student Jessie Maxwell has been selected to work with Inner Banks Outfitters.


MBA student Ashwini Rathi is going to implement Carolina Wild's program with Amazon.com


"I am very pleased to have the assistance of Mayank to help us explore growth opportunities for the company.  The caliber of students selected by the Kenan Institute, coupled with the type of training they receive at UNC gives me high hopes that we will discover some significant avenues for growth here at Best Diamond." Kevin Thorne, President, Best Diamond Packaging
"The entire experience from the very fist phone call to the projects completion with E-TAP was stellar. The attention to detail that the entire E-TAP staff and students performed set a bench mark that we will admire for a lifetime." Steve Lane, President, InteliPort
The final product is going to be of significant value to us.  It was an honor and a pleasure to attend the event last week.  I didn’t expect such an interactive discussion.  That was particularly memorable.   I look forward to staying in touch! Gabe Dough, Founder, CEO, Shure Foods
"E-TAP provided Carolina Wild with an outstanding individual supported by an amazing group at Kenan Institute. We were able to evaluate and understand an important distribution channel much faster than if we had to do it on our own." Dennis Tracz, Founder, CEO, Carolina Wild
"We were honored to be included in the initial E-TAP program via referral from Beaufort County Community College. Being an extremely young company (less than one year old), and venturing in an entirely new career and business in the area, E-TAP helped us to focus and gain connections that will no doubt lead to many important decisions as we grow our business at Raised In A Barn Farm. All of the participants from UNC-CH were very supportive and encouraging in all aspects of our dreams and goals. Though I have been a business owner for decades, all of my experience has been self-taught and definitely consists of many flaws. Raised In A Barn Farm is a tremendous career change, a labor of love for both myself, my family and the community we serve, and it is my hope that by continued association with UNC-CH E-TAP, we will grow to become a very valuable service to our local community, both for recreational purposes and providing local fresh foods from our farm and others." Jane Boahn, Owner, Raised in a Barn Farm
"As the owner of a start-up company, it was an awesome opportunity to be a part of this program. It served a dual purpose by providing us with the much needed technical support and allowing the student to learn and obtain real-life work experience. The student we worked with was a perfect match. He exceeded our expectations and we look forward to continuing a professional relationship. This program was amazing and it was such an honor to be apart of it. Thank you!" Nicole Hawkins, Owner, Rise & Grind Coffee House

"The E-TAP program offers a great service to small companies. Assistance provided by students allows companies to have more time devoted to specific areas of the business that need attention without investing as many internal resources (ie. capital or significant time of key personnel). The key to the program's success in our experience was the quality of the individuals that are available to work with companies. In addition to the staff, the student assigned to our company (Chris Long) did an exceptional job of working independently a lot of the time and developing a work product that will be relied on by our employees for years to come." Adrian Beasley, CFO, Shure Foods