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Are you an entrepreneur? Venture program sets up ‘Shark Tank’-style opportunity
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Brenau University Business Incubator executive director Carroll Turner holds an invention created at the incubator that helps in maintenance off decks and decking boards. - photo by Scott Rogers

Imagine an accelerated version of the show “Shark Tank” that’s open to people with fresh business ideas in Hall County.

Through the team effort of the Brenau Business Incubator and The Times, local talents can take the next step in their entrepreneurial journey with Venture 2019.

Participants are guided through consultation, education and capacity for investment by a pool of business experts.

The process begins Monday, March 25, and comes to a close on Thursday, June 20, with the final winner announcement. The top team will receive a cash prize.

“The goal is to let all these local entrepreneurs and all these people know that we have all these resources in the area, so that we can keep them here and foster their new business to help them succeed,” Leah Nelson, The Times director of revenue, said.

Nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit

Carroll Turner, executive director of the Business Incubator, said Venture aims to showcase the area’s unique capabilities and also display the business-building tools available in Hall County.

As a microcosm for the real economy, Turner said the Business Incubator will be used as an asset to those involved in Venture.

“We’re all about building business here,” he said. “This is a great way to bring more attention to entrepreneurism and business growth. Even with the area being at full employment, this is where your future is.”

The Business Incubator helps launch businesses and provides a place where startups can work on their products.

One recent item that was developed at the incubator is a tool used for scraping out leaves and dirt on a porch. Instead of using a pressure washer, this device’s serrated edge simply removes the unwanted debris between boards.

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Brenau University Business Incubator executive director Carroll Turner holds an invention created at the incubator that helps in maintenance off decks and decking boards. - photo by Scott Rogers

Pro-GeneX, a Gainesville-based gene testing company, recently took advantage of the Business Incubator’s facility, establishing its own lab.

With a location inside the Business Incubator, the company is able to test patients’ DNA with its own staff, as opposed to outsourcing those services.

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Pro-Genex employees learn about processing DNA samples Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, at the Brenau University Business Incubator. - photo by Scott Rogers

Nelson said the idea of putting on Venture was mostly inspired by Hall County’s resources. Instead of people envisioning Athens as a hub for research, she wants people to turn their gazes to Hall County.

“Everybody knows we have great medical facilities, but they probably don’t think of us as a research place, but we are,” Nelson said. “Hall County has three colleges, that’s a lot to say for a community this size.”

How to apply and what to expect

After participants fill out an application,  Nelson and Turner will choose who will compete in Venture. People must turn in the applications by emailing them to

Venture 2019

What: Program that fosters businesses

When: Begins March 25

Where: Brenau Business Incubator, 999 Chestnut St., Gainesville

More info: or 770-535-6330

Download Venture 2019 application form

People can apply as individual representatives of their business or as a team.

The form includes questions about the business product, the amount of investment sought and sales projections for next year.

Nelson will contact those who have been approved for Venture, then lead them through the weeks of preparation leading to the final presentations.

The participants will first meet with their fellow competitors and receive formal guidelines as to what they should anticipate in the upcoming weeks.

Every Sunday, starting on March 31 and ending May 26, teams will work with a group of coaches, composed of experienced entrepreneurs, investors, local business owners and manufacturing company owners.

These experts will guide the participants through different focuses including persuasive entry, product, pricing strategy, placement and promotion.

All of the preparation builds up to the final presentations, where participants relay their business plan and ideas to a panel of business leaders. Nelson said this part of the program will take place over two weeks in June.

The final winner will be announced during a dinner ceremony at the Business Incubator on Thursday, June 20.

For more information about Venture email or contact Nelson at 770-535-6330.