It happens here: Consumer-centric Innovation in Charlotte and beyond


H2 Workforce eases the pain of hiring the wrong people by Nheeda Enriquez

flickr photo credit: woodleywonderworks

As if small business managers didn’t have enough on their plates, local Charlotte firm H2 Workforce built a solution around a common pain in the hiring process.

After selling their previous company, WorkWireless, to its next biggest competitor, serial entrepreneurs James Gray and Austin Stonestreet translated their expertise from running their own business into a springboard for a new one.  H2 Workforce offers a lifeline to hiring managers in small businesses (who don’t have the luxury of a dedicated HR department,) by bundling a menu of services to screen potential candidates through drug screens, background checks, and even skills tests.

Sure, it’s not rocket science, but Gray understands how a simple solution like this can save customers tons of time.   He’s felt the challenge of finding the right candidates for a sales force himself.  He shared a story about a hiring mistake he made after overlooking some basic skills (I’ll have to leave the details out to protect the innocent!)

What’s next for them?  They want to tackle the pains in the rest of the process: managing documents and interview feedback amongst a distributed team.  Stay tuned for more innovations in their arsenal.



Starting a lemonade stand out of lemons: Entrepreneurship and the Economy by Nheeda Enriquez
flickr photo credit: gabe mulley

flickr photo credit: gabe mulley

I’ve written about how recessions are great catalysts innovation and entrepreneurship, since tough constraints force new ways of thinking about problems.  A job loss is one of the toughest constraints of all, so as a Plan B to finding new positions, many think about starting their own businesses, converting that daydream of being one’s own boss into an true option worth considering.

With the city’s financial sector and the businesses around it in turmoil, Gov. Perdue recognized that Charlotte is ripe for entrepreneurs, and she is funding programs to encourage displaced talent to stick around and try their own thing.  One is the Fast Trac New Ventures Program, a class developed by the Kauffman Foundation, delivered free through the Small Business & Technology Development Center recently graduated its first two classes targeting downsized workers.

George McAllister, SBTDC’s regional director, is no stranger to entrepreneurial thinking in this economy.  In a conversation with him, I learned how he and his team “made a village come together” to get this special program up and running quickly.  He says many candidates that have been through the course saw niches and new opportunities because of all the layoffs.  This gives them the kick in the pants they need, arming them with tools to evaluate the feasibility of their business plans (as well as lifelong skills and professional networks.)

Here’s a few more local entrepreneurship resources I’ve come across this summer: