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Gig East Summit a success

Posted on May 23, 2022

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Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs served as keynote speaker Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center. Thompson encouraged attendees to use personal stories to relate their message to audiences — whether selling a business or promoting inclusive city growth.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs served as keynote speaker Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center. Thompson encouraged attendees to use personal stories to relate their message to audiences — whether selling a business or promoting inclusive city growth.

Brandon Kashani receives a round of applause Friday after his company, Trakid, won the RIoT Accelerator Program championship belt in a business pitch competition during the Gig East Summit.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Brandon Kashani receives a round of applause Friday after his company, Trakid, won the RIoT Accelerator Program championship belt in a business pitch competition during the Gig East Summit.

BlueRecruit Director of Growth Emily Neville explains her company’s purpose during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

BlueRecruit Director of Growth Emily Neville explains her company’s purpose during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.

Trakid founder Brandon Kashani discusses his company during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Trakid founder Brandon Kashani discusses his company during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.

CliniSpan Health CEO Dezbee McDaniel talks about his company during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

CliniSpan Health CEO Dezbee McDaniel talks about his company during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.

Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs speaks Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs speaks Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center.

Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs served as keynote speaker Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center. Thompson encouraged attendees to use personal stories to relate their message to audiences — whether selling a business or promoting inclusive city growth.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs served as keynote speaker Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center. Thompson encouraged attendees to use personal stories to relate their message to audiences — whether selling a business or promoting inclusive city growth.

Brandon Kashani receives a round of applause Friday after his company, Trakid, won the RIoT Accelerator Program championship belt in a business pitch competition during the Gig East Summit.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Brandon Kashani receives a round of applause Friday after his company, Trakid, won the RIoT Accelerator Program championship belt in a business pitch competition during the Gig East Summit.

Brandon Kashani receives a round of applause Friday after his company, Trakid, won the RIoT Accelerator Program championship belt in a business pitch competition during the Gig East Summit.
BlueRecruit Director of Growth Emily Neville explains her company’s purpose during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.
Trakid founder Brandon Kashani discusses his company during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.
CliniSpan Health CEO Dezbee McDaniel talks about his company during the RIoT Accelerator Program pitch competition at the Gig East Summit.
Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs speaks Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center.
Kenia Thompson of WordCrumbs served as keynote speaker Friday during the Gig East Summit at the Wilson Arts Center. Thompson encouraged attendees to use personal stories to relate their message to audiences — whether selling a business or promoting inclusive city growth.

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7821

Entrepreneurship and innovation took center stage Friday in the fourth Gig East Summit.

“We felt like we were putting our stake in the ground and claiming Wilson’s spot in the eastern North Carolina entrepreneurship ecosystem,” Wilson City Manager Grant Goings said of the first summit in 2016. “We didn’t know how many people would show up or if you’d take our message seriously, but it paved the way for today.”

Participants in the local RIoT Accelerator Program had an opportunity to share their businesses with a broad crowd and win the championship belt. The companies ranged from health care, entertainment and improving government efficiencies to blue-collar hiring platforms with the founders of each completing the local program with RIoT, the tech startup incubator whose name started as a shortened form of Raleigh Internet of Things.

“Social media is one of the best places to build brands and grow customers,” said Aidan McCarthy, co-founder of TSV Analytics. “One hundred and fifty thousand companies are investing in social media marketing, but most fail to use analytics, so they fail to meet their audience’s needs.”

TSV was a runner-up in the pitch competition with its comprehensive social media analytics tool.

“We like to say other social media analytics companies tell you what is happening, but we’re telling you what is going to happen,” said TSV co-founder Trevor Ferree.

Other runners-up included BlueRecruit and CliniSpan Health. A panel of judges picked Trakid to win the competition. Trakid founder Brandon Kashani explained how his company has partnered with attractions like Florida’s ZooTampa at Lowry Park to equip kids with smart gear to guide families on comprehensive tours with interactive activities.

“The kid gets a wearable smart compass with LEDs to guide them to the adventure,” Kashani said. “The parents have an app offering more information and they are really in control, but it gives kids a chance to feel like they’re in the lead.”

Venues like zoos, museums and amusement parks can design the activities to fit their message.

“In general, venues struggle with connecting with visitors on conservation or sustainability because people don’t read signs,” he said. “... ZooTampa is all about empathy, so the program is designed to communicate and educate about how they can help animals outside the park.”

Trakid launched in the fall with two parks and has plans to expand to eight more this year before moving to the 53 venues on i waiting list.

EXTRA! EXTRA!

WordCrumbs owner Kenia Thompson was the summit’s keynote speaker, encouraging attendees to share personal stories and experiences to connect with their audience in an authentic way.

“I’m a firm believer that we go through things in life simply to share it later with someone who needs it,” Thompson said after telling the crowd about wetting her pants as a teenager after being unable to find her voice to ask to use the restroom before an anxiety-ridden public speech. “Embrace your stories, because even if you can’t see today why it is happening, it will come to us later.”

Whether promoting an individual brand or a community, Thompson said it’s critical to share stories that connect with a diverse audience.

“It is more about authentic and intentional purposes instead of how polished a performance or delivery is,” she said. “As you see yourself in the growth of this city that is Wilson, remember to lead with a story.”

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.

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