News Column

Fredericksburg Events Aid Entrepreneurs

March 11, 2013

Bill Freehling

A movement to create an entrepreneurial culture in the Fredericksburg area appears to be gaining momentum.

Several upcoming events are scheduled in the region to encourage entrepreneurs to present their ideas. Last month FredTech sponsored an event that brought Washington-area serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Jonathon Perrelli to Fredericksburg for a public presentation.

The momentum comes amid recent data that many U.S. students are deciding to forge their own career paths rather than trying to find someone who will hire them. According to a Gallup poll released in January, 43 percent of students in grades five through 12 want to be entrepreneurs. The Internet has made that task more feasible.

Part of the local movement stems from uncertainty surrounding federal budgets, on which the Fredericksburg area and much of the Washington region are dependent. Local advocates hope to persuade the many talented computer programmers who endure soul-crushing commutes to keep their talents local.

Perrelli, founding partner of Fortify.vc, offered some thoughts during his address on how to create an entrepreneurial culture. Among the keys is for entrepreneurs to have access to a support network, experienced mentors and people who are willing to invest in good concepts.

Perrelli also encouraged the region to hold events that encourage startups. Many of these are in the pipeline, including:

FredTech board member and WishStars founder Christine Goodwin is organizing the region's first "Startup Weekend" June 79 at Germanna Community College's campus in Spotsylvania County. Those events, which feature teams working together to hone good business ideas, are held all over the world, so having a local one helps put the region on the map of investors.

The University of Mary Washington Entrepreneurs Club, which was recently founded, is working with UMW's Small Business Development Center and EagleWorks Business Acceleration Program on the "Eagle Startup Challenge" this spring. Student entrepreneurs will present their concepts to a panel of judges and compete for business assistance packages to help them start the company.

This fall, the local Next Generation of Business Leaders group (Next Gen) will organize a public event patterned after ABC's popular "Shark Tank" show. People will propose business ideas, and the best ones will be presented to a panel of local entrepreneurs. The winner will receive a substantial cash prize to go toward expenses associated with starting the business.



Source: (c)2013 The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Va.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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