This article is sponsored by Saul Ewing. It was reviewed by Saul Ewing before publication. Learn more about Technically Creative here.
Starting a business is no easy feat. First, you have the idea. Then, maybe you find a couple of friends with similar visions. Before you know it, you’re all signing contracts and happily on your way to your successful business. Right? Well, for every successful startup, countless others fail. Issues can (and will) arise. Fortunately, with a little planning now, there are a number of precautions you can take that will minimize the impact of those issues.
That’s where law firm Saul Ewing LLP and the Hagerstown Community College’s Technical Innovation Center (TIC) come in.
With funding from TEDCO, the two have partnered to create the Washington County Entrepreneur Workshops, opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs to learn from others’ mistakes in order to guide their businesses in the best possible direction.
The first workshop — “Building Your Company — The Path To Success” — will be held on Feb. 23, 2017 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at the TIC in Hagerstown. And don’t expect boring from the folks at Saul Ewing. “I believe that people remember stories more effectively than a series of bullets,” said Gianna Arnold, Saul Ewing partner and workshop co-presenter. Attendees can expect to find photo slides amid stories of lessons learned and of course, success.
Known for its Resources, Access, Mentoring Program (RAMP™), which supports and provides direction to entrepreneurs and growing businesses, Saul Ewing is an ideal host for such a workshop. Born out of smaller roundtables that have been hosted by Saul Ewing across Maryland as well as in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the grant enables a focus on western Maryland.
Topics cover a range of missteps that can result in failure as well as best practices that will improve the opportunity for success for startups and early stage companies. Whether it’s where to find the money and the people, employees versus consultants, how to minimize personal risk, navigating contracts, intellectual property, or operating agreements (hint: Arnold says to view these like prenuptial agreements), chances are it’ll be discussed.
Saul Ewing is passionate about helping companies succeed.
“It’s so much easier and so much less expensive to do it right the first time than to try to fix things. Having a heads up about some of the possible missteps might put the odds in someone’s favor,” Arnold said.
Who should attend the workshop?
- Companies in their first three to five years
- Anyone planning to start a company
- Investors looking to get to know early-stage companies
So why Hagerstown? Well, not only is the goal of the workshop for companies to learn the best ways to move forward, but also to offer an outstanding networking opportunity. And in Western Maryland especially, networking is paramount.
Along with the grant received from TEDCO, a partnership has blossomed. TEDCO’s Rural Business Innovation Initiative has worked with Janice Riley, Manager of the TIC at Hagerstown Community College to develop the Mountain Maryland Tech Network. After some focused listening sessions, TEDCO learned that what the tech community in Western Maryland really needs is good networking opportunities. From this, the Mountain Maryland Tech Network is being created as “a better way to bring that entrepreneurial community together in Western MD, so they can support one another, there can be some peer to peer learning, and we can deliver content to them in a more focused way,” according to Neil Davis, Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives for TEDCO.
Riley is beyond excited for this new opportunity for the tech community in Hagerstown. Describing how the Hagerstown tech scene might be different from the big cities, Riley says:
The big thing here is explaining we’re not just cyber, we’re not just biotech, we’re not just cell tech. When you’re out here we’re talking the A to Z of agriculture technology to alternative energy and medical devices to software as a service, mobile apps, gaming.
The Hagerstown TIC is one of the oldest and largest business incubators in the state. It was recently awarded a Maryland Governor’s Citation. Riley herself received the Regional Manufacturing Institute Visionary Leadership Champion Award for all the work going on at this incubator.
The most notable aspect of the three organizations behind the workshop is their passion to see entrepreneurs succeed.
“Part of the Maryland culture — no matter who you talk to, you’ll hear the same message — is that people are really focused on helping these entrepreneurs and helping them make a difference,” said Davis.
“I love working with the companies because there are some amazing new ideas out there,” added Arnold. “That’s how jobs are created and that’s how our economy grows. People are so passionate and that’s what jazzes me up.”
The second workshop, “The Path to Success Part II,” will be held Tuesday, April 4 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Hagerstown Community College.
Still on the fence?
Janice Riley offers this last piece of advice. “Now’s the time, why wait? A lot of times you’re thinking about starting your own company, asking should I do this. Well, you don’t know if you don’t try.”