The Groundwork Labs mindset revolves around three ideas:
  1. Coaching: we have a volunteer team of more than 50 of the Triangle’s best mentors, advisors, and speakers who provide hands-on guidance on every aspect of your startup
  2. Community: You will work alongside other outstanding founders and learn from each other, as well as make connections to potential customers, partners, and investors.
  3. Structure: We help you focus your energies and time on the most important actions necessary to accomplish your next company goal.

What will you do at Groundwork?

Teams come into Groundwork at different stages with different needs.  Groundwork is not so much a curriculum as a structure to help you move to your next goal.

Much of your time will be spent continuing to do what you’ve been doing, with an added focus on:

Customer Discovery

If you are still at the idea stage, you will be testing your assumptions by getting out of the building and interviewing potential customers and validating your idea and product.

Customer Development

If you already have an MVP,  we’ll focus on building traction.

Business Model Canvas

You will work to model your entire business – not just develop your product.


Beyond just creating a great deck and delivering a great speech, weekly critique of your pitch helps identify the gaps in your business.  And you can work on whatever else you need – a sales pitch, a partner pitch, a one-on-one conversation about your business


We help you make connections with mentors, advisors, investors, and customers.

Mentors and Advisors

We draw from more than 50 well-respected members of the Triangle startup ecosystem.


Twice a week, we will have a conversation with a successful entrepreneur, an investor, or other member of our community.

Program Details

NC IDEA Expert Network

Most afternoons experts hold office hours that enable you to drop in and get guidance.  They include specialists in sales, marketing, branding, user interface, PR, intellectual property, startup legal matters, and finance.

NC IDEA Fellows and Interns

We have energetic fellos and interns who can help your team – for example, market research, competitive analysis, and web site content.

Other Perks

Finally, there are other perks – awesome office space on the American Tobacco Campus, access to the American Underground, $100K in Google cloud credits, 2 years and up to $5K Amazon Activate credits,, Google for Entrepreneurs, HubSpot’s Jumpstart Program, cool outings, and other benefits

Groundwork Labs History

In late 2010, several factors converged that gave birth to Groundwork Labs. One was the effectiveness of accelerator programs at helping startups achieve their goals faster, and the second was the desire of NC IDEA Foundation to do something to help the most promising of the 140-170 grant applicants who were not yet at the stage that they could win a grant.

Since then we have helped more than 130 teams and more than 250 founders.

  1. 16 companies have gone on to win NC IDEA grants
  2. 13 companies have gone on to other accelerators, including TechStars, Healthbox, The Startup Factory
  3. 25 companies have raised more than $100k in equity

Of course, these successes are not due solely to Groundwork Labs.  It takes an entire village to build a startup and many have gotten help from other organizations, mentors, and people – and some of them surely would have achieved success without Groundwork.

That being said, based on the founders comments we have been particularly impactful on:

  1. FokusLabs – helping a middle school Psychologist build a startup technology business
  2. iScribes – helping a physician from Lynchburg, VA transform to an entrepreneur in Durham, NC
  3. Bright Wolf – helping them start the transition from a consulting business to a product business
  4. Groundfloor – matchmaking the co-founders

Click here to learn more about our Groundwork Labs companies .

Application Available in August 2017


After Hours Program

Groundwork Labs After Hours is a mini version of our regular Groundwork Labs program.  Just like business schools offer a “weekend MBA” for those working full time, this program targets (but is not limited to) candidates with these two characteristics:

  • An early stage idea that requires additional refinement and insight before fully committing to it​

  • Folks who have a full-time job and cannot participate in our regular program.

The objective is to help participants in eight weeks decide if their idea is solid enough they can quit their day job and pursue it, or figure it out that it is not and fail fast.

Main Topics Covered

  • Customer Discovery – identifying the potential customer’s problem and solution, and determining how big a pain point exists, creating an effective MVP, and interviewing potential customers.  Attendees will be required to interview 5 potential customers per week

  • Business Model Canvas and Lean Startup – attendees will construct and iterate a business model canvas

  • Lean Startup

  • Pitching and Fund Raising – Fund raising strategy, delivering an effective pitch, where to find seed stage funding

To get the most out of the program, attendees should plan on at least 10 hours per week outside of the sessions to benefit from the experience.  This time will primarily be spent interviewing potential customers and creating a business model canvas, and we will mostly do a flipped classroom where there will video tutorials to be viewed outside of class.