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Harrisburg firm hatches startup incubator

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A Harrisburg web design and software firm has formed a new venture to support early-stage startup companies in the capital region.

Dubbed Catamaran LLC, the venture is a standalone business created by the leaders at Andculture to advance the entrepreneurial spirit in Central Pennsylvania.

David Hickethier
David Hickethier - ()

"Tomorrow’s founders are here," David Hickethier, founder and CEO of Andculture, said in a statement. "We are making it our mission to identify and then work alongside them as they launch their products and services."

The move follows a visit this week to Central Pennsylvania by AOL co-founder Steve Case and his "Rise of the Rest" tour, which aims to support entrepreneurs outside the traditional tech bastions of Boston, Silicon Valley and New York City.

Catamaran plans to host four companies at a time under what it describes as an accelerator model.

The firms will spend three months at an incubator on the second floor of Andculture’s offices in downtown Harrisburg and benefit from services such as design and software engineering as they prepare products for market, said Lauren McAteer, Andculture’s innovation transfer acceleration director. She valued the services at about $35,000 per company.

Catamaran also plans to introduce startups to potential investors, customers and other partners, McAteer said. "That is a huge barrier for new companies. They’ve got a great product, but they can’t get validation with a first customer."

Catamaran plans to become a B Corp, a certification given to companies that make a positive impact on society and the environment beyond making a profit, McAteer said. The certification process is overseen by a nonprofit called B Lab, which has offices in suburban Philadelphia, Denver, New York and San Francisco.

Catamaran expects to welcome its first companies in January, following an application process that closes Nov. 20, McAteer said. The first four will spend three months in the accelerator. Then Catamaran will seek applications for another four. The accelerator plans to host two cohorts per year, McAteer added.

A launch party for Catamaran is scheduled for Oct. 13 at Andculture's offices at 200 Locust St. in Harrisburg.

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Joel Berg

Joel Berg

Joel Berg is editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Born in Philadelphia, raised in Northern Virginia and now living in York, he's a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and the University of Maryland. Have a question or story idea? Email him at jberg@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JoelBYorkPa.

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