Professional Development

Marvin Weinberger’s Makers Meetup is returning from a pandemic hiatus

Virtual events over the the past two years certainly served their purpose, the inventor said, but he's hoping to spur more meaningful connections for local makers, entrepreneurs and startup leaders at these IRL meetups.

Marvin Weinberger in 2015 with his invention, the Lil Trucker.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

It’s been at least two years since inventor and entrepreneur Marvin Weinberger has been able to gather folks for his Makers Meetup. The event series is meant to offer the chance for anyone in the startup scene whose company produces some sort of physical product to gather, network, hire and maybe even raise some money.

Weinberger said that his goal for Makers Meetup now is the same as it was before the pandemic, with renewed vigor: “I want to meet and showcase as many exciting companies as I can find,” he told Technical.ly.

Havertown-based Weinberger is behind products like the LIFESABER survival tool and an at-home mask sanitizer, and he was the CEO of ecommerce company American Certified as well as briefly the owner of Venturef0rth, a now-closed coworking space and startup incubator in Callowhill.

The Makers Meetup has been a staple in the tech scene for years, and after a pandemic hiatus, Weinberger’s first IRL gathering will happen next week on Thursday, April 7, from 3 to 7:30 p.m. at the University City Science Center’s Quorum.

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The first meetup back will include a keynote by Sean O’Sullivan of VC firm SOSV, which counts more than $1.2 billion in assets under management. The firm specializes in funding “very early stage, deep-tech startups,” including Philly’s own Strados Labs, Wazer and Simply Good Jars.

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The Thursday afternoon meetup will involve a few different parts, including a talk with O’Sullivan and the local CEOs from the aforementioned portfolio companies. The event will also offer breakout sessions where startups can receive advice and evaluations from attorneys Tim Levy and Matt Brinker with RCCB Law.

And 25 Mid-Atlantic companies will be showcasing their products, including a handful of Philly tech companies such as Avisi Technologies and Neuralert. Maker companies, Weinberger said, are any that have at least some product or physical aspect to their offerings. That means no SaaS or data analytics companies, but those outside tech are welcome, too.

Attendees will also have the chance to hear from Dylan Crow and Garrett Winther who lead a new $50 million SOSV HAX Program for early-stage “hard tech” startups. The crew will work out of a 30,000-square-foot facility that will be based in Newark. It’s open to entrepreneurs from across the country, and the applications will be open on a rolling basis, with $250,000 in investments available for startups.

Though the program’s in New Jersey, Weinberger said Philly companies should feel encouraged to apply. After all, “it’s only a train ride away.”

The IRL gathering is free to attend, for whatever part of the programming you’d like to experience — come for the whole time, or pop in for an hour, Weinberger said. In pre-pandemic days, the Makers Meetup gathered every month for casual events, but Weinberger said he visualizes a more extensive, connective event like this one every other month or so. But the message is clear: Makers Meetup is indeed back.

The virtual connections and events throughout the pandemic certainly served their purpose, the inventor said, but he’s hoping to spur more meaningful connections for local makers, entrepreneurs and startup leaders at these in-person events.

“I have really been looking forward to getting folks together and getting the chance to meet new ones,” he said. “Maybe people will get some funding, or find an intern for their company, or simply find new forms of collaboration. I’m excited to find out.”

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