Resource Guide for Startups & Small Business: Northeastern North Carolina & Hampton Roads

Starting a business is not easy.

Fortunately, there are plenty of experts, resources and programs to help you in the process of taking your dream from idea to reality. In fact, there are SO many options out there that it can get confusing. How do you know where to begin?

You may be clear on your business and where you want it go, but you also have a long list of questions:

  • Do I need an accelerator or an incubator? And what's the difference?

  • Should I get funding from a banker or an angel investor?

  • Does my business idea have any potential to be a real success?

We've compiled a list of roughly 23 different options for organizations that can help you. 

How do you choose the right one?

It all depends on what you need. Before you start calling or emailing anybody on this list, think about what kind of help you REALLY need.

  • Do you need to borrow money or just get solid financial advice?

  • Do you need to buy an entire building or just borrow a conference room once a week?

  • Do you need to sharpen your sales skills or get leadership advice from a CEO?

Figuring out WHAT you need before you start asking for help will save you (and everyone else) lots of time and trouble.  

Keep reading and you'll see that there are plenty of ways to give your business a boost, whether you've been building it for years or just had the idea this morning.

Before you go on, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Some of these services are free and others charge a fee.
  • Some are exclusive depending on where you live or go to school and others are open to everybody.
  • Some of them require an application or screening process.

But as different as they all may be, the one thing they have in common is that they exist to help you succeed as a small business owner/entrepreneur. 

There's plenty of help waiting for you out there, so right now, the only question is: 

Are you ready to go get it?


College of The Albemarle's Small Business Center

What’s the big idea?
This NC Community College resource offers one-on-one counseling, industry-specific training opportunities, and professional development programs, as well as business skills seminars, workshops and courses.

COA Logo.jpgWhere is it? College of the Albemarle - Elizabeth City Campus, 1208 N. Road Street in Elizabeth City, NC

Contact: Ginger O'Neal, COA-SBC Director, (252) 335-0821 Ext. 2231  

How much does it cost? Services are FREE (but registration is required) and some small business courses require an additional fee (usually $25)

Bottom line: Great free resource with an ongoing series of practical business courses. 

Small Business Institute - Christopher Newport University

What’s the big idea?
“The SBI provides business assistance to small firms located in the Hampton Roads area. Teams of senior-level business majors and business minors, under faculty supervision of the SBI Director, provide semester-long business consultation to selected small business and nonprofit organizations. The primary mission of the SBI is to enhance the success of small businesses by providing the business owners with workable, practical, and feasible short-term solutions to complex business problems.”

CNU_logo.svg.pngWhere is it? Christopher Newport University, 1 Avenue of the Arts in Newport News

Contact:  William Donaldson, Director (757) 594-7836

How much does it cost? FREE, but selection of clients is based on an application and interview with the SBI director.

Bottom Line: Offers a unique perspective that combines real world business experience of faculty members with new ideas from rising business students.


Peninsula Technology Incubator

PTI-logo-2-300x142.jpgWhat’s the big idea?
“Provides office space and startup resources to a variety of  businesses and entrepreneurs. With 3D printers, a wet chemistry lab, drone testing facilities and more, if you can’t build the answer yourself, our community of experienced mentors and educational classes can show you how. We provide our startups with the resources they need to position themselves as they implement their business plan and work towards raising capital. Our program focuses on providing a space to collaborate and access to area business leaders that help mentor young companies. The Peninsula Technology Incubator is funded by the City of Hampton, VA.”

Where is it? 1100 Exploration Way, Suite 300 in Hampton, VA at the National Institute of Aerospace

Contact: Daniel Morris, Director (757) 869-6634

How much does it cost? Contact PTI for membership fee information.

Bottom line: Because PTI is a subsidiary of the National Institute of Aerospace, it’s definitely among the top spots in the Mid-Atlantic for tech startups. PTI was also named one of the top 50 accelerator programs in the nation, out of 832 assessed by the Small Business Administration, and ranked second among knowledge-based incubators in the world by Technopolicy. 

The Franklin Business Center

What’s the big idea?
“Office space, support staff and programs that nurture young firms and expanding businesses. This incubator program is designed to assist these businesses during their first few years of operation when their needs usually outpace their ability to provide for themselves making them more vulnerable to failure. The Franklin Business Center also provides hands-on management assistance, access to equipment and exposure to critical business and technical support services under one roof.”

Where is it? 601 North Mechanic Street in Historic Downtown Franklin, VA

Contact: (757) 562-1958 or

How much does it cost? Office space starts at $82/month, applications accepted online. Does not accept applications for retail businesses or nonprofits.

Bottom line: Offers a extensive menu of office space and services.


Hampton University Business Incubator

What’s the big idea?
“The HU Business Incubator provides space and nurturing services to new and small businesses during their critical early existence. In addition to office space, the Business Incubator provides advice, technical assistance, counseling and other services on-site.”

Where is it? 6 W County Street in Hampton, VA

Contact: (757) 722-9283

How much does it cost? Services are FREE

Bottom line: Great, university-supported resource for small business guidance and mentorship.


What’s the big idea?
“Part incubator, part educator and part aggregator of local resources for all things startup. The Hatch schedule is packed with business competitions, networking events, an expert speakers series and an annual regional roundup known as the State of the Startup Community Address.” The “1000 Four” is a membership program for entrepreneurs that includes access to exclusive content, discounted event admissions and a spot in the MasterMind network of small businesses.

Hatch Logo.pngWhere is it? 111 Granby Street in Downtown Norfolk, VA

Contact:  Zack Miller, managing director, 757-295-8635

How much does it cost? There are three pricing tiers for “1000 Four” membership: $30/month or $300/year; $95/month or $855/year and $180/month or $1440/year. Special events are priced separately.

Bottom line: Miller has described the 1000 Four as “a gym membership for entrepreneurs.”

Strome Entrepreneurial Center

What’s the big idea?
“The Strome Entrepreneurial Center (SEC) is a key campus resource and collaborator for all students, faculty, staff, and alumni to support entrepreneurship and innovation. We educate about entrepreneurship as a career path and offer individual advising/mentoring for those wanting to start a venture, or who already have a business.”

odu_strome_entrepreneurial_center_postcard-r4a6cbeb83eee423d808618149a35a850_vgbaq_8byvr_512.jpgWhere is it? Old Dominion University, 1006 Visual Arts Bldg in Norfolk, VA

Contact:  Nancy Grden, Executive Director (757) 683-6000

How much does it cost? Events, advising, and shared working space are offered at no cost to ODU students, faculty/staff, and alumni.

Bottom line: Great resource for the ODU connected entrepreneur.


1MillionCups VB.jpg

1 Million Cups - Virginia Beach

What’s the big idea?
A weekly presentation series where start-ups and entrepreneurs can present their ideas (and existing businesses). “1 Million Cups is a free, weekly program designed to educate, engage, and connect entrepreneurs. Developed by the Kauffman Foundation, 1MC is based on the notion that entrepreneurs discover solutions and network over a million cups of coffee.”

Where is it? Most Wednesday mornings at 9am at Stratford University’s Virginia Beach campus, 555 S. Independence Blvd

Contact: Register to present on the website

How much does it cost? Admission is FREE.

Bottom line: An easy way to network, connect and share ideas with local startups and entrepreneurs.

757 Angels

What’s the big idea?
“The first and only organized angel group in Hampton Roads created to address the capital gap between “Friends & Family” and “Venture Capital” rounds.” Provides efficient infrastructure and process to evaluate promising companies for presentation to 757 Angels. Provides mentoring and feedback for selected companies/

Contact: Monique Adams, Executive Director (757) 513-1343

How much does it cost? Services are FREE, but pre-screening and application are required.

Bottom line: 757 Angels connects startups to a group of serious investors and requires that entrepreneurs follow a series of applications and selection rounds. Recommended primarily for businesses who are already making progress in the fundraising phase of development.

757 Makerspace

What’s the big idea?
“757 Makerspace is a community workshop and prototyping center in Norfolk, VA. It serves entrepreneurs and creators in need of 3D printing, laser cutters/engravers/cutters, CNC’s, welding and related equipment & services.”

Where is it? 421 W. 22nd Street in Norfolk, VA

Contact:  Connect via their website.

How much does it cost? Makers Dozen $125 - 12 Day Passes, Quarterly Subscription $375, $1200 - Yearly Membership

Bottom line: A great space for networking and connecting with a community of people who “make stuff” that ranges from the highly technical to the solidly old-fashioned.

Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative

What’s the big idea?
“The Hampton Roads Innovation Collaborative helps organize a regional entrepreneurial and innovation based support ecosystem. HRIC is focused on delivering constructive activity such as mentoring, experience learning sessions, growth modeling and access to capital.”

HRIC.jpegWhere is it? Chesapeake, VA

Contact: Dan Bell, President (757) 373-6517

How much does it cost? $100/year for an individual, Corporate memberships range from $300-$1,000/year

Bottom Line: Multifaceted organization that holds a variety of programs and workshops dedicated to growing Hampton Roads businesses.

Hampton Roads SCORE

What’s the big idea?
“Our mentors provide free face-to-face meetings and low-cost workshops and events designed to enable entrepreneurs succeed and thrive in today's challenging business climate. From helping startup entrepreneurs get their small businesses off the ground to helping established small businesses grow and flourish, our mentors are ready to assist with all manner of business advice and guidance.”


Where is it? In the Retail Alliance Building at 838 Granby Street in Norfolk, VA. Appointments are also held at 4525 Main Street, Suite 700 in Virginia Beach, VA.

Contact: (757) 455-9338 to schedule a mentor meeting

How much does it cost? Mentoring is FREE

Bottom line: Offers mentors with expertise in government contracting, manufacturing, hospitality, marketing, financial industries, and computing.

Ignition Center

What’s the big idea?
“The business accelerator by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Our goal is to actively help serious clients, and to encourage the curious. Selection is approved by a majority vote of the board, or by a quorum of half of the board members. If an applicant is not selected, they will be provided with the reasons why and the votes cast. Refusal in one track does not exclude entry into another.”

Ignition Center.pngWhere is it? 1006 Richmond Rd in Williamsburg, VA.

Contact: Via website or Facebook page.

How much does it cost? Depending on the track, between $200-300 per month

Bottom line: “Three things make us different. First, we provide direct support and investment. Second, we get results. The ventures we support have generated more revenue than local publicly financed programs, in less time. Third, we are independent, accountable, and transparent. We welcome disruptors, and those ready to break the rules and challenge the status quo.”

Launchpad - Greater Williamsburg Business Incubator

What’s the big idea?
“Launchpad provides entrepreneurs and startups in the Greater Williamsburg Partnership (James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg) with the amenities, counseling, and services necessary to grow a successful business.”


Where is it? 4345 New Town Avenue Suite 200 in Williamsburg, VA

Contact: Tim Ryan, Director (757) 565-4373

How much does it cost? Community plan starts at $50/month with full access at $400

Bottom Line: “There are no long-term contracts, everything is month-to-month as we’re here to help entrepreneurs, not hurt or add pressure to them. They can see if they can sustain their business before they move out to a brick and mortar – before they go out into the big world.”

Enterprise Gateway

What’s the big idea?
“The Enterprise Gateway is a business-friendly entry point to engage the intellectual capital, innovative technologies and world-class infrastructure of Old Dominion University. Created in 2010, the Gateway links the University and the Hampton Roads business community, offering resources, expertise and access to technology. Part of the Center for Enterprise Innovation, it includes the programs listed below.


GOV2COM - A program that helps government and defense contractors expand into commercial markets.

image.img.319 (1).jpgHRPAC - The Hampton Roads Procurement Assistance Center exists to assist area businesses in establishing themselves to bid competitively on federal, state, and local government contracts.

1385413455255.jpgLaunch Hampton Roads - An initiative to help aspiring entrepreneurs get back to work through self-employment by providing access to the tools needed to aid in their success.

1446487841768.jpgTAC - The Technology Applications Center (TAC) provides the highest quality engineering support in the areas of performance excellence and organizational management systems.

1469471792964.pngVBOC - The Hampton Roads Veterans Business Outreach Center (HRVBOC) is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business. 

1391708227187.jpgWomen's Business Center - Helps elevate women to business success through education, counseling, networking resources and entrepreneurial training. 

Where is it? Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA (106 Innovation Research Park I, 4111 Monarch Way)

Contact: (757) 683-3729 or connect to individual programs via the website

How much does it cost? Most services are provided FREE, but check for specifics within individual programs

Bottom Line: Excellent and expansive hub for a wide range of programs and resources, backed by Old Dominion University.

PROPEL Mentor – Protégé Programs

What’s the big idea?
“PROPEL consists of an initial seven-week business boot camp where participants attend half-day training programs to refresh their business knowledge. In conjunction with this is access to technical assistance from the SBDC. Upon completion of the bootcamp, Protégé are introduced to their mentors and a two-year mentoring program begins.”

propellogo2_1.jpegWhere is it? Small Business Development Center of Hampton Roads, 600 Butler Farm Road in Hampton, VA

Who can I call? Jim Carroll, Small Business & SBDC Director (757) 664-2595

How much does it cost? 2-year program costs $500/year

Bottom Line: Great program for those who want to commit to working with mentors during startup.

Norfolk's Business Cafés

What’s the big idea?
Regular meetups that “Provide new and existing businesses with the information, guidance, and resources needed to move forward and achieve success. They offer financial, marketing, management and technical assistance to new and existing small businesses. Services are offered at no charge to Norfolk residents interested in starting a new business or expanding an existing firm.”

Screen Shot 2016-12-12 at 12.17.19 PM.png

Where is it? Business Cafés are held in three locations: Ocean View, Park Place, and Southside. Check website for dates, times and location specifics.

Contact: Ihsane Mouak (757) 664-4338

How much does it cost? Café meetings are FREE

Bottom Line: Informal, non-committal way to engage in local conversations with business owners and experts. 

ODU Innovation Center

What’s the big idea?
“The ODU Innovation Center is a hub for entrepreneurial activity. Situated conveniently in downtown Norfolk, we provide space and programming to startups and service providers within the Hampton Roads ecosystem. We seek to engage with scalable, innovation-driven startups, as well as freelancers and service providers engaged in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The "community" aspect of the Center is our most important asset. We are supported by, and in partnership with, Old Dominion University and the City of Norfolk.”

ODU Innovation Center.00_png_srz.png

Where is it? 501B Boush Street in Norfolk, VA

Contact: (757) 683-7600

How much does it cost? Memberships are FREE. Incubator Client memberships range from $500–$700, depending on office size and availability. Coworking ranges from $100/month  and up. Daily Coworking starts at $15/day.

Bottom Line: “Provides area entrepreneurs with collaboration space and a comprehensive program of services designed to grow a community of scalable entrepreneurial businesses within Norfolk's Innovation Corridor.” 

Small Business and Technology Development Center

What’s the big idea?
North Carolina’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) is the business and technology extension service of The University of North Carolina. Offers entrepreneur-focused programs and online training resources.”


Where is it? Elizabeth City State University, HL Trigg Bldg, Rm 102, 1704 Weeksville Rd, Elizabeth City, NC

Contact: Michael Twiddy, Regional Director (252) 335-3247

How much does it cost? Services are FREE, but online registration is required.

Bottom Line: “The thing about the SBTDC is that I’m never actively looking for these opportunities, but my counselor comes to me and says, ‘what do you need now?’ and offers these students, or interns, or a workshop, or whatever will help us at that moment.” - Robert Ray, Calibration Solutions

The Business Side of the Food Industry: Resources

What’s the big idea?
Experts at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provide general business assistance including a comprehensive business plan review, identification of potential financial resources, referrals to regulatory agencies, information regarding services of other agencies, information about product liability insurance and information about getting your product tested. Their website includes helpful links to legal resources as well as a list of co-packers, and shared-use and business incubator kitchens in NC.


Where is it? 2 West Edenton Street in Raleigh, NC

Contact: Annette Dunlap: (919) 707-3117 or Ron Fish: (919) 707-3119

How much does it cost? General business assistance is FREE.

Bottom Line: Definitely the place to start if you’re thinking of starting a food-focused business in North Carolina. 

Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship

What’s the big idea?
“The Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship supports the development of micro, small and medium-size enterprises in rural North Carolina. New Generation Ventures is open to young people who commit to launching a business in one of North Carolina's 85 rural counties. Ventures supports young entrepreneurs with business counseling, scholarships for business training, networking opportunities and access to new forms of capital. Project GATE, or Growing America Through Entrepreneurship, helps laid-off workers explore options for starting their own businesses. It provides access to free, one-on-one business counseling and scholarships for business management and vocational training.”

2012-CCatch-Sponsors-TheRuralCenter.pngWhere is it? North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, 4021 Carya Drive in Raleigh, NC

Contact: Barry Ryan, Senior Director of Programs (919) 250-4314

How much does it cost? Programs are FREE.

Bottom Line: Great resources for young start-ups and communities not connected to more resource-rich metro areas.

Council for Entrepreneurial Development

What’s the big idea?
“Identifies, enables and promotes high-growth, high-impact companies to accelerate the entrepreneurial culture of the Research Triangle and North Carolina.”

CEDNC.jpgWhere is it? 334 Blackwell Street, Suite B012 in Durham, NC

Who can I contact? Call (919) 549-7500 or email via the website

How much does it cost? The CED Venture Mentoring Service is FREE.

Bottom Line: Great opportunity to tap into a deep network of entrepreneur support. According to the website: “With over 4,000 active members and 500 companies represented, CED is the largest and longest-running network for entrepreneurs in the country.”


What’s the big idea?
“EntreDot was established to help entrepreneurs create, launch and operate their businesses by providing professional mentoring and business education programs that maximize the opportunity for success, resulting in incremental economic growth in revenue and jobs.”

Where is it? 800 Park Offices Dr, 3rd Fl Research Triangle Park, NC

Contact: Call founders Bill Warner or Brad Lienhart at (919) 522-0722 or submit a contact form online

How much does it cost? The “Six Steps to Success” program is $300/month with a 6-month contract.

Bottom Line: Founders stress a commitment to helping start “Main Street Businesses,” with an added focus on helping women and veteran entrepreneurs.

  Thinking Currituck Five Reasons  

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