We are Protopia!

Ask An Innovator

UNC Ask An Innovator

Are you a Tar Heel who has a question about your idea or venture? We have a community of experts, entrepreneurs, and operators with answers.

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?

`”Connecting students with mentors who have the right levels of expertise is really helpful. I think that’s what made this experience so much more beneficial. The platform itself is super efficient. But for me, as a student, I think the quality of people and consistent communication was the biggest appeal and the reason why I will continue to use the system again and recommend it to other student-entrepreneurs. I’m going to make sure they know about Ask an Innovator.”

Caitlyn Kumi

Senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and founder of Miss EmpowHer

“The opportunity to receive mentoring is the reason I came to UNC. I thought Ask an Innovator was super easy. You just fill out the online form and then get an answer by having someone reach out to me within 36 hours. In my case, I was able to easily schedule a meeting with my mentor. She helped me understand the pros and cons of each option and, more importantly, think through how I approach each one as well as the next steps and tools I need to follow through..”

Leah Gallant

PhD. student of philosophy in psychology at UNC-Chapel Hill

“I was looking for entrepreneurs to talk with and get feedback on how they run their businesses. Ask an Innovator was user friendly and it didn’t take too long to submit my request nor receive feedback. From my experience, one of the few good things that has come out of the pandemic is being able to connect with more people through virtual meetings, having one-on-ones with different people and learning from their experiences.”

Tyrell Carter

Senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and founder of ANTE

How does it work?

01
You ask for advice.

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

02
We recruit.

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

03
Get answers.

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

04
Say ‘Thank you.’

Build your network by thanking the alum and 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.

Need inspiration?

Here’s what others like you have asked

  • What can I ask?
  • What’s a good question?
  • Who will see my question?
  • Can I request someone specific?
  • Can I ask follow-up questions?
  • How long will it take to get an answer?
  • How many answers will I get?
  • Will my questions and answers be confidential?                        
  • Is there a limit to how often I can ask?                            
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.

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, five 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.

Go ahead and ask

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

Ask an Innovator is a partnership of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill innovation organizations