New meeting series offers entrepreneurs an audience
A group of 12 midstate organizations has launched monthly meetings designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs around the region connect with insiders who can help support their fledgling businesses.
KeystoneMerge Meetup was created as a way to give people with business ideas a stage and an audience of business development specialists, possible investors and the greater entrepreneurial community.
The meetup is held on the first Thursday of every month in either Harrisburg, York or Lancaster from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.
Entrepreneurs are invited to sign up for the meetup and are given 10 minutes to present their ideas. A 30-minute Q-and-A segment follows during which entrepreneurs have an opportunity to network with the audience.
Sara Love, an innovation portfolio manager with Catamaran, a business development service in Harrisburg and a founder of the event, said the meetup is focused on drawing in entrepreneurs from across the region to make meaningful connections.
"It’s a great way to perhaps find a partner, a collaborator, find technical assistance or find support in the region," Love said. "We have a great deal of resources to provide support."
Love said that the meetup’s founders first met early this June with the idea for the monthly event after realizing that many entrepreneurs are still in the early stages of planning and need people to bounce ideas off of.
The meetups founders include: Assets, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, The Candy Factory, J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship, New Tech Meetup of Central PA, SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon, St@rtup Harrisburg, Technology Council of Central PA, York County Economic Alliance and York Exponential.
"What we found, and it was collective among the group, is that each entrepreneur starting up will go to Catamaran and spend a couple hours, then to Ben Franklin for a couple hours, and we can provide a platform where they can get feedback in a significant manner without spending all their time going to each group individually," Love said.
Keystone Merge currently has a waiting list of entrepreneurs hoping to present to the business community, and Love says that the past two events have sold out of the available 40 seats.
Not all presenters are accepted for the meetup, as organizers want to be sure they are bringing in individuals that are new to the region’s business environment.
"If it’s someone already plugged into the ecosystem, this isn’t the best platform to them," Love said.
The locations of the meetups change from Harrisburg, to York and then to Lancaster. The next meetup is planned for Thursday, Dec. 6 at The Candy Factory in Lancaster.