International entrepreneurs learning about the Queen City

YTILI fellows deliver presentations
Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ventureprise at UNC Charlotte is hosting seven international entrepreneur professional fellows as part of the U.S. Department of State’s 2018 Young Transatlantic Innovative Leaders Initiative (YTILI).

The program, implemented by the German Marshall Fund, selected Charlotte, Seattle Boston, Austin, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Denver, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., to serve as host cities. 

Four entrepreneurial leaders in each U.S. city serve as mentors for the visiting fellows. Devin Collins, Ventureprise at UNC Charlotte; Betsy Hauser Idilbi, Tech Talent South; Alexandra O’Rourke, Womble Bond Dickinson; and James Walker, Informative Technologies; are the Charlotte mentors. In the spring, the four traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, to work with the fellows prior to their trip to Charlotte.

During the fellows’ Charlotte visit, which is through Oct. 21, they will meet with local entrepreneurs and investors, research faculty, corporate executives and a number of government organizations. The fellows will be exposed the city’s startup ecosystem, build network connections and gain resources to strengthen their business.

The seven fellows are Arthur Gopak (Netherlands), CEO and editor-in-chief of AlphaGamma, a business portal for young professionals; Gabor Fodor-Papp (Hungary) co-founder and CEO of Family Finances, which provides banks with design-driven products as well as offers comprehensive solutions for all banking functions while also integrating beyond banking features such as education, e-commerce and social modules; Oleksii Sobolev (Ukraine) CEO of State Enterprise ProZorro.Sale, an award-winning, transparent e-auction platform; Ena Peeva (Italy) founder of Educative,  a social venture that works with high school students providing them extracurricular courses in order to prepare them to access the job market or continue their studies; Erlend Sierra (Norway) CEO and co-founder of Versor, a Norwegian company that develops software necessary for true autonomous drone flight both indoors and outdoors, enabling end-to-end automation of industrial drone inspections; Jemma Phibbs (United Kingdom) co-founded School Space at the age of 17, aiming to connect schools with their community and solve the education funding crisis; and Christina Balbas Martinez (Spain) co-founder and CEO of Escuelab, a social business that democratizes access to a practical, hands-on science education.

Recently, the YTILI Fellows delivered presentations about their companies to mentors and a few members of the Charlotte Angel Fund.

Escuelab’s Cristina Balbás said, “I am meeting with STEM educators in formal and informal settings. So far, understanding the ecosystem in Charlotte has proven very useful in terms of thinking of new strategic approaches for Escuelab back in Spain. I look forward to the rest of my meetings, and I'm sure they will lead to some interesting transatlantic collaborations.”

Another fellow, Arthur Gopak, added, “I got some critical feedback on my startup, AlphaGamma, and business plan in general. I have already met with representatives from UNC Charlotte, and I am meeting other organizations who are asking for content marketing advice. By the end of this week, I want to meet - either in person or virtually - with 11 to 12 business schools in town. So far, the YTILI Fellowship is very dynamic and insightful; I keep discovering Charlotte, and I'm amazed by how tight and well-connected the local entrepreneurial community is.”