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Company & Conversation

Technology entrepreneurs share visions at Startup Lancaster

Veteran entrepreneur Charlie Crystle, right, leads a discussion at the November meeting of Startup Lancaster at the Pillar Lounge in downtown Lancaster. Photo/Amy Spangler

Being a tech entrepreneur can be tremendously rewarding. There’s the exhilaration of working with cutting-edge ideas, knowing you have potential to create something as game-changing as Google or Facebook.

But the road to success is long and hard. Along the way are untold hours of labor, crises over money, nervous investors, fickle customers, sleepless nights, setbacks, and skepticism from friends and family.

Having some good companions can ease the journey. And that’s the idea behind Startup Lancaster.

Launched a year and a half ago by veteran Lancaster-area entrepreneur Charlie Crystle, Startup Lancaster has 46 members, all involved in getting early-stage tech companies up and running. The group holds monthly meetings to swap war stories and advice and to gain inspiration for the next stage of their efforts.

“It’s interesting to see what happens when people get together and share ideas,” Crystle said.

Normally, one- to two-dozen members attend any given meeting, he said. They give updates on their projects and break into small groups to discuss the topic of the month. In October, a presentation on financing drew an especially large turnout, Crystle said.

November’s meeting was a little smaller than usual, with six company founders plus Crystle convening at The Pillar Lounge in Lancaster. Following a round of introductions, Crystle presented for discussion some themes from recent posts on his blog, “Digging In.”

The more quickly customers understand your value proposition, the sooner they can make a purchase decision, he told the aspiring company founders. What can a company do to make that process as smooth as possible?

That led to a discussion of pricing, then to ideas on how to secure and retain those all-important first customers, the nucleus of the customer base any business hopes to build. Crystle called that “getting from zero to one.”

“Make the first 10 people using your software into evangelists,” Crystle advised. “You want to develop the true believers.”

Leslyn Kantner, founder of a social virtual pin-map site called Uencounter.me, told the group she writes a personal email to every new subscriber. Uencounter.me has been operational for a year and celebrated the placing of its 10,000th pin the day of the meeting, she told the group.

Tim Stuhldreher

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