Skip to main content

Startup [YourTownHere]

Last year I read in the local rag that Sam Abadir had raised $6 million for appMobi, and it was at 35 East Orange St in downtown Lancaster.

Sam who?

This town is entirely too small to learn something like that through the paper. Something felt wrong; there are clearly tech companies here, but they didn't seem to be connected. 

So I asked Ross Kramer of Listrak, Kirk Barrett of Cimbrian, Dave Weaver of to  help gather startups and see what's out there. 

The first Startup Lancaster event drew 20 people or so from about 15 startups. It was thrilling to see the level of interest. 

Since then, we've had about 8 meetings, and a bunch of the companies have made substantial progress. Others have stalled, and some have taken on completely new models. One changed their plan from outsourcing to hiring locally, and will launch shortly. Some have raised capital. 

Recently Kyle Sollenberger (departed co-founder of CoTweet) joined us and has been doling out advice to other passionate founders. 

No founder has all the answers, so we're blessed to have Kyle and the other vets mixing it up with the first-timers. 

I've learned a lot from talking with these founders, and am thrilled to see some of the progress. By getting together, we've helped each other, encouraged each other, guided each other, and developed friendships along the way. 

This week, an intrepid entrepreneur, Josh Smith, heard Kyle present to the Central PA Tech Meetup (another, more general tech group), and Kyle apparently mentioned Startup Lancaster.

Josh liked the idea but didn't like the drive to Lancaster (wimp!), so the next day he started Startup Mechanicsburg (rolls right off the tongue). 



If you know one other startup, one other aspiring founder, set a date, get together, and share your challenges and achievements. 

Call it Startup [insert your town's name here]. There, you've just started your own little ecosystem.

Here are some tips:
  • Use I used Eventbrite until this week. Meetup is sooo much better, and in the week since I started using it the group has added new founders much faster for some reason. 
  • Promote the night through social media, emails to friends, family, investors, other tech meetups, etc.
  • Tell your nearest branch of Ben Franklin Technology Partners
  • Pick a day of the month when most people are likely to be able to make it. Friday would be a bad choice. 
  • Start at 6 or 7; 5 is too early, after 7 is too late. 
  • Be on time. 
  • Schedule it for an hour and a half to two hours. If people see 3 hours, they might not come, but people will tend to stay two to three hours. 
  • Founders only--no investors, lawyers, vendors, employees, bankers or cops. At some point it makes sense to invite a guest speaker, and maybe even to have a show and tell event where you invite local investors, press, etc. We're just about at that point here in Lancaster. 
  • What happens in fight club stays in fight club. That means don't tell people outside of the group about the challenges of one founder or another. Respect confidentiality. 
  • Be open about your challenges and feel free to share anything. 
  • Be ethical.
  • Typically we order dinner--each is responsible for their own bill. 
  • Make sure the staff knows you're getting separate checks. (crucial!)
  • Pick a venue with a back room or quiet space. If there's music on, ask them to turn it off so you can hear each other without shouting. 
  • Beer is encouraged but not required. Have some. Not too much. 
  • Occasionally have someone demo their stuff. But not often--it can really cut into networking time. 
  • Have each founder introduce themselves with a description of what their startup does and one or two challenges they currently face. 
  • Break into small groups to talk about challenges--no more than 4 per group. 3 is ideal. 
  • Come back together and share what you've learned
  • Don't let any one person dominate (especially the organizer)
  • Be generous with your advice. 
  • Swap out leaders. 
  • Tip the staff. 
  • Do it again next month.
  • Let me know if you've started something -- I'm happy to join you sometime, and I bet others in our group would as well to help you get going. 
If you have more tips please leave them in the comments. 


Popular posts from this blog

Beta Signup

I've been working for quite a while on a new search concept, though the further in I get, the closer the rest of the world gets to what we're doing. So today I'm inviting you to sign up for the rather modest beta, which will be ready soon if we can nail down a few difficult  details. Jawaya is a way of navigating the web and getting better results. And that's as much as I can say right now, because we're not a funded startup, and things are moving really fast in this space--it's going to be very competitive. I predict there will be about 10 funded startups in the next 6 months doing something similar. One of them will be mine, and we aim to make it the best. We're raising a round of capital to fund the team, and are shooting for early sustainability. This is my fifth company; my fourth in the tech space, and my third software company. I think it will be the biggest and can possibly have a positive impact on the world by reducing the amount of time it takes

Where Innovation Happens

As I get closer to a go/no-go decision on a project, I've been thinking about the difference about my vision for the project and the supportive innovations to enable the core innovations The vision combines (in unequal parts) product, core innovation as I imagine it, the application of that core innovation, design, marketing,  developer ecosystem, and business development. The core innovation enables everything else, but it's the application of the innovation that makes it meaningful, useful, and in this case, fun. This week we're testing initial approaches to the implementation for our specific application, and that's where we'll develop the enabling innovations, which is basically where the rubber meets the road. The difference is that the enabling innovation happens at the source of real problems only encountered in the making of something, and in a project like this just getting the essence of it right isn't enough; it also has to be safe, the compone

Disqus Digests

This morning my phone dinged with a fresh notification--a new email! What oh what could it be?  I rush over to check while thinking "I need to unsubscribe to a lot of stuff so I get fewer non-urgent dinging notifications." Well shoot, that's disappointing. It's Disqus Digests, one of the biggest wastes of dopamine anticipation ever.  It simply sucks.  Disqus itself is great as a commenting system. I've been there since the beginning and have mostly enjoyed its evolution.  And then they did this interruptive, irrelevant email. Well why does it suck, you say.  Every one of these "Digests" sends a few comments from a blog conversation in which I've already participated. That means it's very, very likely that I've seen the comments before.  So I open the mail, see something I've already read, and curse Daniel and Company for enticing me into wasting my time, and cursing myself for falling for it.  So I unsub