Two years ago I started Startup Lancaster with the help of Dave Weaver, Ross Kramer, and Kirk Barrett; they are local tech startup founders with varying degrees of success. The next meeting is next Monday--join us at http://www.meetup.com/startuplancaster/
We deliberately limited the attendees to founders of tech product startups, so service providers were not allowed into the group, nor were vendors or employees.
That limited the range of topics and challenges to what founders face, while excluding other smart, motivated people, but there are other forums for that like Central Penn New Tech Meetup.
That focus has served the group well. We'll likely start another group that is more open and encourages a broader range of subjects.
For now, founders talk to other founders, mentor each other, learn from each other, and occasionally join each other in new ventures.
The first meeting had something like 17 people. Subsequent meetings ranged from as low as 5 founders to as many as 25. The smaller meetings were less structured but people seem to prefer them. The larger meetings gave people a chance to get to know new members and give us a sense of a larger community.
Two years in, I can't say it has been a smashing success. It seems that some people have benefitted from it, but I have to admit I'm disappointed in some of the results of startups that have gone on to raise a bit of capital, teams that have split, stops and starts, and more failure than success.
But then that's the point--these things are going to happen anyway.
Teams break up, friends stop talking to each other for stupid reasons, leaders make mistakes, best efforts fail, some teams pivot, and pivot, and pivot like whirling dervishes addicted to self discovery, capital is wasted, yet some teams do spectacularly well.
And then we share the messiness of it all, hopeful that we'll help each other, that our advice will be heeded, wounds healed, new ideas developed, new teams emerging from the ashes of the last battles.
It's a real startup community. Game on.