Business students support Camel Accelerator’s third cohort of entrepreneurs

Following a competitive selection process, 25 companies were accepted into the third cohort of the Camel Accelerator, a 10-week program in which more than 45 students will collaborate with founders who are scaling their businesses.

Mary Smalling, founder of Banks Bed and Breakfast in Garner, was among the business owners who expressed her enthusiasm about joining the program.

“I’m very happy to work with students as they help me learn to grow and excel in my business,” said Smalling. “I think having fresh eyes on my business will bring new ideas, great discussions and a plan for succeeding in the future. It’s an honor to have been selected.”

With the support of grants from N.C. IDEA and the RTP Foundation, the Camel Accelerator was established in 2021 with a mission to empower underrepresented founders by equipping them with the necessary tools and knowledge to expand their ventures.

Alissa Sclafani, a senior marketing major from Cary, highlighted the personal and professional growth opportunities that come with working with startups. 

“Working with a startup offers an opportunity for personal and professional growth as you contribute to the company’s development and success,” she said. “With a startup, you’re able to build much deeper and more personal connections with everyone on board within the company along with the new potential customers. It’s a great opportunity to grow alongside the business.” 

This year’s program maintains its successful hybrid structure, featuring weekly Zoom sessions complemented by dynamic in-person meetings at Campbell’s main campus. Once again, a diverse group of founders from across North Carolina has been attracted to participate in the program.

Scott Kelly, director of entrepreneurship for the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business said, “Each year, we see the Camel Accelerator evolve, fostering a symbiotic relationship between students and entrepreneurs. This year’s cohort has furthered this tradition, offering mutual learning and growth opportunities.”

The Camel Accelerator is encouraging interested candidates for upcoming cohorts or those seeking more information about the program’s qualifications to visit their website or contact Kelly at