Ask An Innovator

With an active community of more than 2,800 expert innovators and entrepreneurs, Ask An Innovator will connect you with Tar Heels who are eager to help..

You ask.

They answer.

Tar Heels love helping students and fellow alumni. So what’s one question you have for someone who’s done what’s ahead of you?

How It Works

You ask.

Need help with an idea or active startup? Wondering about career options?

We recruit.

Our technology (powered by Protopia) uses AI to find the best experts to answer you.

Get answers.

We “hunt” until you have one or more responses. Delivered right to your email inbox.

Say ‘thank you.’

And build your network by continuing to stay in touch (such as via LinkedIn).

Not sure how to ask? We’ve got a short video that will turn you into a networking rock star.

What other Tar Heels are asking

“Hello, there! My name is Jane and I’m a first year at UNC that is majoring in physics and planning to pursue an Eship minor. I’m currently working on developing a physical product.

I would love advice from Innovators or help identifying resources or programs UNC offers that could help with this venture, particularly the manufacturing aspects.

Thank you so much!”

What other Tar Heels are asking

“Hi! My name is Willow and I’m a rising sophomore at UNC studying computer science. I came up with an idea for an app that would help college athletes in all sports, at all levels, profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). I have written a rough, but detailed business plan with my idea.

I am not sure where my next step should be. I’m hoping to get some advice from entrepreneurs who were once in my shoes!

Thanks in advance.”

What other Tar Heels are asking

“Hi, I am Gloria, a senior majoring in marketing. I work part time at a firm that helps clients drive positive health behavior change. We are starting a new contract with an org that will probably require us to subcontract with other people/orgs.

What needs to be in place in order to do that effectively and safely? And what insurance is recommended?

Thank you for your assistance!”

What other Tar Heels are asking

“Hello Innovators – I’m Bill, a senior majoring in accounting. With the shortened schedule, online classes and difficult job market, I am totally stressed out. I fear that after all of my hard work, I’m still not going to be able to find a job.

I would love to get some advice about what I can do to best position myself to get a good job in my field. I would particularly like to hear from alumni that graduated during down economic times.

I really appreciate your guidance (and support). Thanks and go Heels!”

Got a question on how it works?

What can I ask?

Literally anything to help with your academic or professional development. There are thousands of alumni, faculty, staff and friends that can help with class projects, building and growing a startup or figuring out career options.

What’s a good question?

Think of your question as an advertisement. Share who you are, what you are doing, and what you need help with. Keep it short and sweet. Here’s a short video on how to craft a great question that will get you results and help build your network.

Who will see my question?

We send your request to the best alumni, faculty, and staff in your area of interest.

Can I request someone specific?

No. We make our matches based on availability, proximity, experience and skills.

Can I ask follow-up questions?

Yes, of course! Once we make a match you’ll have direct, one-to-one communication and can ask additional questions.

How long will it take to get an answer?

Our goal is to get you answers within 3 business days. But it depends on what you’re asking. It can go as quickly as an hour to as long as 10 days or more.

How many answers will I get?

The number of answers depends on how many experts we have available with relevant experience. It may be one, three or more.

Will my questions and answers be confidential?

Your question will not be made public. It will be seen only by matched experts and a handful of administrators.

Is there a limit to how often I can ask?

No. You can ask as many questions as you would like. In fact, we encourage it as this is the simplest way for you to build your professional network.

I found Ask an Innovator to be really efficient because I’m very intentional about my relationships and my time. Connecting students with mentors who have the right levels of expertise is really helpful. We have a great entrepreneurship community and a great way to network with people who are more than willing to help. I also think the quality of mentors has been great. I will continue to use the system again and recommend it to other student entrepreneurs.

Caitlyn K.


I thought it was super easy in terms of filling out the online form and then getting an answer by having someone reach out to me within 36 hours. It was a very, very efficient turnaround. And from there, an Innovator and I were able to schedule a meeting. I was really impressed by just how natural it felt and comfortable. I really appreciated that organic, authentic feel.

Leah G.

Student at The Graduate School

Ask an Innovator is simple and easy to use, and it’s been a good experience. The Tar Heel and I were able to connect by email and then by phone. Ask an Innovator does a good job connecting students and mentors.

Morris G.

Class of ’10

It was easy to use, and I got feedback very quickly. It was user friendly, and it didn’t take too long to submit my request. I was looking for entrepreneurs to talk to and get feedback from on how they run their businesses. What were their biggest challenges, and what did they need as far as running their business? I definitely recommend Ask an Innovator. Being able to connect with other entrepreneurs is amazing.

Tyrell C.

Class of ’21

Go ahead and ask

It has never been simpler to get help from others who have done what’s ahead of you.