Podcast Series:
On the Heels of Innovation


How is it that some people are successful in pushing their ideas further and faster than the rest of the world? What characteristics do they share? Which skills did they work to hone? And what lessons have they uncovered through each step forward and back that can inspire you to accelerate your own idea for a business or venture? This podcast explores the perspectives, insights and journeys of innovators and entrepreneurs who combined creative thinking and hard work to go beyond the expected.

You’ll hear from entrepreneurial trailblazers with strong Carolina ties along with other renown experts who embody the spirit of Tar Heel entrepreneurship. The podcast is powered by the Entrepreneurs Genome Project, which consists of research conducted by the Entrepreneurs Lab class taught by Ted Zoller, T.W. Lewis Clinical Professor and director of the Entrepreneurship Center at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. The project aims to unveil the DNA that makes up successful entrepreneurs. On the Heels of Innovation is an iniaitive

Season 2

Entrepreneurs: All In, All the Time?

With Brent Comstock, founder and CEO of BCom Solutions; principal, Change Ventures

For entrepreneurs, what does it mean to be all in, all the time? As entrepreneur, rural economic developer and venture capitalist Brent Comstock describes, it doesn’t have to mean working until 11 o’clock every night. But as he’s discovered in developing his team at BCom Solutions, it does require challenging yourself to excellence and dedicating your full focus to growing a company.  Listen as Comstock shares lessons from his entrepreneurial journey, which began when he was 12 years old and led him to build a profitable company with a sustainable revenue model by the time he graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2017. He discusses the concept of purposeful failure, how mentors can spark breakthrough moments and why investing in great people and technology are a great way to mitigate risk.

Season 1

Tech Venture Traction: Five Keys to a Successful Start

With Kimiko Suzuki and Jessime Kirk (CodeStories) and Rob Haisfield (Aloha)

If you’re looking for advice on how to start a venture, you might not immediately think of turning to students. After all, they’re the ones who are learning, right? Yet, listen to the founders of CodeStories and Aloha, and you’ll get concrete advice based on critical early lessons learned from student founders who are building traction in their tech startups. These standout student entrepreneurs discuss five key ideas that can make or break early ventures: The value of on-campus resources, what to look for in your team members, how and why to seek customer feedback, creative ways to build new skills, and how to use courses as testing grounds for your ideas.

Teaching Entrepreneurship: The Now and Next

With Rebecca White, Entrepreneurship and James W. Walter Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship; Director, Entrepreneurship Center; Professor; University of Tampa

Can you teach entrepreneurship? The explosion of successful entrepreneurial education programs has answered this question with a resounding “yes.” Yet, many questions remain – and renowned entrepreneurial education expert Rebecca White joins us to answer them. Which next-generation teaching models work best for future entrepreneurs? What role does assessment play? What does experiential learning mean for entrepreneurs, and why is it critical? And how can we provide just-in-time learning for students and alumni as they face real-world challenges? White lends her insights to these questions, talks about the need for resiliency, and discusses key factors in communities that are emerging as entrepreneurial hotspots. 

To Learn and Launch: Student Entrepreneurs Talk Passion, Skills and Tenacity

With Lucy Best and Emily Kian (Phyta) and Ana Soule (Phoenyx Project)

Problem or solution? Which should you be more passionate about as a student entrepreneur? And what’s more critical: having the right entrepreneurial skills or in-depth knowledge? During our latest podcast, you’ll hear insights from students who lead the ventures Phyta (cultivating seaweed to combat pollution, food insecurity and climate change) and the Phoenyx Project (upcycling billboard vinyls to reduce landfill pollution and homelessness). Learn about the tools, traits and resources – from courses to competitions to mentor networks – that have helped these students start to turn their ideas into realities.    

The Collision of Ethics and Entrepreneurship

With Tom Byers, professor of entrepreneurship at Stanford University

Data privacy concerns at Facebook. Fraud at Theranos. Sexual harassment controversies at Google. The news headlines are filled with one revelation after another of things gone askew at top tech companies – many led by some of our most revered entrepreneurial heros. Join Tom Byers, entrepreneurship professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford University, who examines the increasingly jagged intersection between ethics and entrepreneurship. Hear why Byers says it’s critical for entrepreneurs to place values before value creation. Are ethical lapses the fault of individuals or systemic shortcomings? Can investors encourage startups to authentically embed values into their cultures? How can universities make entrepreneurial ethics a more prominent lesson for students? Byers explores this hot topic that has significant implications in the boardroom and classroom.  

Passion-Driven Entrepreneurship and Making

With Ben Barras, president and chief operating officer at Indie Do Good

Find what you love and do it. When Ben Barras emerged from a dispiriting part of his distinguished career in consumer products and merchandising, he followed this advice from his father and helped to launch Indie Do Good, the dot-com home of independent makers and entrepreneurs who are driven by the purpose of doing good. What e-commerce and branding strategies did Ben use to set the company apart in an ultra-competitive market? And how did he use storytelling to connect consumers to entrepreneurial makers who have a passion for creating a positive difference through the products and services they provide?


In Perfect Alignment: Dental Researcher Creates Braces of the Future with 3D Printing

With Dr. Christina Jackson, instructor at UNC School of Dentistry

Getting braces for straighter teeth is a rite of passage for many adolescents and an increasing number of adults. Wouldn’t it be great to have an orthodontic option that is comfortable and that other people can’t see? Christina Jackson, who completed the orthodontic specialty program and serves as an instructor at UNC School of Dentistry, is launching a venture that uses 3D printing to create individually customized brackets that combine comfort and aesthetics. But, before she could use her innovation to better align teeth, she first had to line up the right resources at UNC: market research and patent services, legal advice, grant writing assistance and others. Hear how her resourceful approach kept her innovation journey on the straight path.


Baristas and Builders: The Launch of UNC's Student-Run Coffee Shop

With Lauren Eaves and Scott Diekema, Co-Founders of The Meantime Coffee Co.

When a small group of UNC students set out to launch a full-service, student-run coffee shop on campus, there were a lot of days they thought it would never happen. Hear about the entrepreneurial path these students traveled to get their idea off the ground. What was hardest about learning to operate a business? Why are they are big believers in organizational values? And how are they handling change management?

Fashion Magazine Founders Talk Team Culture

With Alexandra Hehlen and Remington Remmel of Coulture Magazine

Coulture Magazine, the premier fashion lifestyle publication at UNC-Chapel Hill, has taken campus by storm. What began as a lunch conversation between Alexandra Hehlen and Remington Remmel — both recent Carolina alumni — blossomed into a full-fledged operation with 180 staff members. Created by students for students, the magazine offers hands-on opportunities for students in modeling, photography, writing, design and other areas. Learn about the ups and downs the team went through to bring the magazine to where it is today.

How Entrepreneurial Builders Energize the Economy

With Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Badal of Gallup

What’s the difference between a builder and an entrepreneur? How can a builder’s mentality help you create a business, nonprofit or initiative that makes an impact? Listen as Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, and Dr. Sangeeta Badal, a principal scientist with the Entrepreneurship & Job Creation Initiative at Gallup, discuss tools that can help you identify your best approach to building something of your own. Based on findings from their book Born to Build, Clifton and Badal discuss why a focus on building will power the future economy.

The Power of Teams, Tech and Work Ethic

With Taylor Rhodes, UNC alumnus and CEO of SMS Assist

Tune in to a conversation with Taylor Rhodes, an alumnus of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business MBA program and CEO of SMS Assist. Find out what he’s learned leading this company, which works at the intersection of the cloud and facilities management. He shares his story and discusses the importance of teams and mentorship to the entrepreneurial process. From serving in the U.S. Marine Corps to building great teams in the business world, Rhodes talks about why a focus on team culture, an eagerness to learn and a passion for hard work are ingredients for success.

Why Entrepreneurship Knows No Age

With Ritwik Pavan, UNC-Chapel Hill student and CEO of Linker Logic Technologies

Learn how UNC-Chapel Hill student Ritwik Pavan is blazing a trail in entrepreneurship. Not only is Ritwik majoring in business administration and computer science, he’s also CEO and founder of Linker Logic Technologies, a tech firm specializing in IT services. Ritwik discusses why failure isn’t always a bad thing and shares lessons from his innovation path that began when he started working on mobile apps in high school.

Entrepreneurial Lessons from the Hardwood

With Bill Aulet, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and MIT Sloan School of Management

Hear from serial entrepreneur Bill Aulet of MIT as he discusses how the lessons he learned growing up on the basketball court taught him the basics of entrepreneurship. Find out how fundamentals like collaboration, practice, and recruiting the right teammates that he honed as a player now help him as he works to change the way entrepreneurship is understood, taught and practiced around the world.

Elements of the Entrepreneurial Adventure: Ideas, Timing and Technology

With Drew Sechrist, UNC alumnus and early executive at Salesforce

In the final episode of this three-part series, hear from Drew Sechrist, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and early executive at Salesforce. Drew shares how a motorcycle ride through Mexico gave him an idea for an entrepreneurial project that he’d pursue during his post-Salesforce career. What did Drew learn about the timing of an idea, market readiness and technology development? And what connection does he see between adventure and entrepreneurship. 

Turning the Dot-Com Bust into a Business Boon

With Drew Sechrist, UNC alumnus and early executive at Salesforce

In the second of this three-part series, hear from Drew Sechrist, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and early executive at Salesforce. In this episode, Drew discusses the journey of a serial entrepreneur and his post-Sales Force adventures. Find out how Drew and the Salesforce team turned the volatile period after the burst of the dot-com bubble turned into an lucrative new market opportunity that the company rode to new heights. 

An Insider's Look: When Salesforce Was a Startup

With Drew Sechrist, UNC alumnus and early executive at Salesforce

In the first of this three-part series, hear from Drew Sechrist, a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus and early executive at Salesforce. Drew shares his amazing ride building Salesforce’s stratospheric sales engine, his perspective on recognizing opportunities and how he’s learned to find passion and meaning in his work.