To many, Lancaster evokes Amish buggies and verdant farmland. But an emerging community of tech startups expects to declare itself next month with the city's first Startup Weekend
Organizer Ben Donahower, a Lancaster native and Internet marketer, sees the event, set for February 22-24 on the Franklin & Marshall campus, as a way to "build the Lancaster startup ecosystem."
After attending a Startup Weekend in Philadelphia a few years ago, Donahower approached Charlie Crystle, who he describes as the "Godfather of Lancaster startups" with the notion of conducting an event. With Crystle as mentor (and a coach and judge at the weekend) and a team of volunteers, Donahower is working tirelessly to attract sponsors and attendees.
The purse is attractive: more than $10,000 in prizes include a full year of the Listrak
e-commerce platform, coworking space at Lancaster's Candy Factory
and Internet marketing, coaching, design, development from the city's Web Talent Marketing
Equally important to participants is the opportunity to brainstorm and develop ideas, business models, coding, marketing and more. Besides Crystle, the judges are Chuck Russell, co-founder of Harrisburg's Collective Intelligence
; Kyle Sollenberger, a co-founder of San Francisco's Seesaw
and Pam Martin, South Central PA Regional Portfolio Manager for Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the executive director of the Ben Franklin TechCelerator Incubator@Carlisle
"Lancaster is a sleeping giant when it comes to the tech community," says Donahower. "It's a great place to work and play at a fraction of the [overhead costs]. Even being in a rural area, from the tech standpoint, Lancaster is a far more bustling city than people give credit to."
Source: Ben Donahower, Lancaster Startup Weekend
Writer: Elise Vider