Watch this video by Charlotte Creates on Charlotte's historic innovation and entrepreneurship.
As one of the most rapidly growing metropolitan areas in the nation, Charlotte serves as headquarters for many major national and international companies. Keeping with the traditional small town feel, however, many inspired Charlotteans are now making the Queen City home to a rising number of creative startup companies. Currently ranked America’s second best city for entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur Magazine and American City Business Journals, Charlotte is a smart place for individuals and businesses with nearly any interests and goals to locate and succeed.
Charlotte-based McKinsey and Company consultant Ronak Bhatt notes that “a broad range of entrepreneurial activities is important in a region. Charlotte provides a supportive environment for entrepreneurship in all its forms and across various industries: from high-tech to construction and from energy to food service. It’s important to maintain diversity in the local economy, to be responsive to emerging opportunities, and to absorb possible disruptions to any given sector.”
Entrepreneurism is nothing new in Charlotte. It is hard to imagine now that such well-known companies as Family Dollar, Harris Teeter and Belk grew from small-scale ideas comparable to those we are seeing from today’s entrepreneurs. The Charlotte community presents individuals with great potential to grow their passions from a simple idea to a thriving business.
In November 1959, for instance, Leon Levine opened the first Family Dollar store in Charlotte with a simple concept, “The customers are the boss, and you need to keep them happy.” According to the company, “This concept for a self-serve, cash-and-carry neighborhood discount store in low to middle income neighborhoods proved so successful that today Family Dollar is a chain with more than 6,800 stores from Maine to Arizona.”
In 1936, W.T. Harris borrowed $500 to open his first grocery store in Charlotte. Three years later, Willis L. Teeter and his brother, Paul, borrowed $1,700 to open their first Teeter’s Food Mart in Mooresville, N.C. Harris Teeter was formed in 1960. With more than 200 stores in eight states and the District of Columbia, the company’s headquarters remains in its area of origin (the Charlotte suburb of Matthews), employing approximately 25,000 associates.
Belk also has a successful tradition built on humble beginnings. Twenty-six-year-old William Henry Belk had been a store clerk for 12 years when on May 29, 1888, he opened a small bargain store in the rural farming community of Monroe, N.C. Now in the third generation of family leadership, Charlotte headquartered Belk is the nation’s largest privately owned, mainline department store company with more than 300 fashion stores in 16 contiguous Southern states.
With new startups popping up seemingly daily, it is not unlikely that Charlotte entrepreneurs’ newest and most innovative ideas will grow to be similarly well-established businesses down the road. Considering the impact of the entrepreneurial spirit on our community and economy, we believe that it is important to communicate these stories to the broader community and world. Through this blog series, our goal is to inform and drive productive conversations about entrepreneurship in Charlotte. Every other week we will post a new blog about a startup company in the Charlotte area, providing readers with stories that aim to inspire.
If you have a startup story of your own or know of one that you would like to share, let us know. We would love to tell your story.
Posted by: Sarah Burton @ 12:00:00 am
I have built and sold 4 startups here in Charlotte... We have just raised over $1m from investors around the country/world for our newest one, KYCK.com. I would love to tell you more about it.