Q&A with Miller Fellow Edward Durham
Edward Durham is a part of the 2023 cohort of Miller Fellows. Read how Edward utilized his time as a Miller Fellow to develop his brand presence through social media marketing.
A group of NC State alumni established the Miller Fellowship in honor of their professor, Tom Miller, to support entrepreneurial-minded students and help bridge the gap directly following graduation when students are often faced with the choice of taking a job or focusing on their startup venture full-time. Miller Fellows receive a stipend of $1000 per month for 6 months (June – November) and receive specialized mentoring and skills training in both themselves as an entrepreneurial thinker as well as their ventures.
Edward recently graduated from NC State with a degree in history. His venture, GnomeXcursions, provides lodging and amenities to travelers near large events such as festivals. Edward wants to use his time as a Miller Fellow to create a larger brand presence through social media marketing. His short-term goal is for the company to operate year round rather than seasonally.
Read more about his experience and how the Miller Fellowship has impacted his company’s performance and growth.
Q: Can you tell us about your startup?
GnomeXcursions, often referred to as GnomeX, is a travel company specializing in setting up private campgrounds for local events. GnomeX organizes campgrounds based around local events to provide extended stays to one night shows. We provide unique camping experiences combined with affordable accommodations to ensure our guests have both an adventurous and comfortable stay.
“The Miller Fellowship propelled GnomeX forward, providing informative workshops and crucial milestone meetings. The recognition from the fellowship attracted an investor and added legitimacy to our brand.”
Q: What has been your greatest challenge this year, and how did you overcome it?
Our main challenge was recruiting and assembling a solid team. After an unsuccessful attempt earlier in the year, the fellowship’s team-building workshops helped me lay the foundation for successful team dynamics. We now have a trio of dedicated team members committed to GnomeX’s growth.
Q: Could you share a recent success story?
Since July, we’ve been experiencing a series of successes, with our events consistently selling out. Our most recent excursion, over the weekend of November 3rd to 5th, saw a mix of returning and new patrons, including a group of NC State students. This was personally fulfilling as it felt like I was giving back to the NC State community.
Q: What advice would you offer to early-stage entrepreneurs?
It’s crucial to build a support network of individuals who understand the entrepreneurial journey. This network can provide immense support through both triumphs and setbacks. Moreover, find a personal mantra; mine is “Keep moving forward.”
Q: What’s next for GnomeX?
We are excited about our upcoming rebrand to “GnomeX” and the launch of a new line of merchandise and products, which will complement our existing services and excursions. Some of which will be showcased on November 30th.
Be sure to attend the Alumni Entrepreneurship Showcase and Miller Fellowship Celebration on November 30th to see Edward’s and the other Miller Fellows innovative startups. Come ready to explore bold startups and network with other NC State innovators!