Much of the focus on the tech ecosystem in Greater Philadelphia is in Center City, but we’ve seen major dollars spent and deals made by suburban tech companies in recent years.
And Jon Mercer, cofounder of Startup Bucks — an entrepreneurship and startup organization in Bucks County, just north of the city — and his team are doubling down on that fact. Last summer, they launched the nonprofit and linked up with the 1 Million Cups organization to run 1 Million Cups Bucks County every Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Now the team is taking another step by launching an accelerator for early-stage startups that gives selected companies up to $25,000 in investments, resources, programming and connections. The concept for the accelerator started before the pandemic with the idea of getting a direct portion of Bucks County’s economic development funds into the hands of early-stage tech startups.
“As the pandemic progressed, there was even more imperative to stand up a program like Bucks Built that could help entrepreneurs develop innovative, scalable businesses that can grow, add value, and create jobs amidst the new normal,” Mercer told Technical.ly. “As such, the funding directed to the program increased from what was originally anticipated, giving Bucks Built the ability to fund and support two batches of startups per year.”
So, twice a year, with that funding from Bucks County, the Bucks Built Accelerator will invest up to $25,000 as a convertible note in at least five early-stage startup companies. Programming will take place over a year, with mentorship, pitch coaching, on-call advising, participation in the weekly 1 Million Cups forums and connections with investors. They’ll also get a tech stack audit from “CIO-to-go” service Coherent Ways, access to Stacks Co. workspace in Doylestown (which Mercer founded), and connections to business pros and the Startup Bucks community.
Startups that are eligible for the accelerator should have no more than five employees, currently be an incorporated entity, and have at least one of these within a year of funding: an owner living or planning to live in the county, operating or planning to operate there, or make a commitment to hiring in Bucks County. But, companies do not need to be incorporated in Pennsylvania or based in the county to apply. The program will begin in spring 2021.
While the pandemic has physically kept people apart, Mercer said he’s actually seen connections within the tech community in Bucks County expand and increase during the last nine months.
“Previously, entrepreneurs and tech pros in Bucks would have to trek to Philadelphia, New Jersey, or NYC for most events,” he said. “Now with most everything remote, our community has grown and broadened to include folks from not just Philadelphia and New York, but North Carolina, Costa Rica, Florida, and beyond.”
The application for the Bucks Built Accelerator is now live and closes Dec. 8. Interested applicants can also attend a virtual Q&A on Nov. 18.-30-