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Open Coffee

On Thursday February 17th, 2022, SCCF hosted its first monthly Open Coffee session connecting self-identifying entrepreneurs across the Shenandoah Valley. Participants joined a virtual meeting with their coffee cups and tea mugs to collaborate and bounce ideas off of one another. With almost 30 people in attendance, everyone was able to make at least one new connection by the end of the session. 

Ecosystem Builder Katie Overfield-Zook kicked off the session with upbeat, “coffee-hour” music, setting the tone as everyone joined the call and immediately began dropping their website and LinkedIn links in the chat box. Everyone seemed to buzz from the afternoon caffeine kick, ready to break up their day with a fun entrepreneurial event. 

The session then transitioned into a “hot seat” style presentation, where Nick Koger, SCCF Director of Outreach and CEO and Co-Founder of BeCardless, presented his five-minute business pitch for BeCardless. He concluded with a “non-monetary ask” for help solving a current problem he had with BeCardless. Right away, emoji hands popped up across the screen as eager participants volunteered to ask clarifying questions and provide feedback and potential solutions. Participants of all ages and backgrounds gave great advice, and sparked creative ideas for Koger to utilize in his business. At the end of the hot seat Koger thanked the group for their feedback, saying that many of the ideas they gave were some of his own ideas as well, but the group had “reaffirmed that his ideas were valuable.”

The group discussion broke after 40 minutes, at which point Overfield-Zook randomly placed participants in breakout rooms for people to network and begin building relationships. This smaller group breakout session allowed time for more personal conversation and insight into their own experiences in entrepreneurship, “It was great to meet such a driven, professional, delightful bunch!” said Rob Cantrell, Computer Programming and Website Design Program Manager & Trainer at Blue Ridge Community College. SCCF’s Open Coffee is the first to connect people across the entire region. This is a unique advantage for entrepreneurs to grow their network even further throughout Virginia. 
The next Open Coffee session will be held on March 17th at 2pm, and participants will be encouraged to wear green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, as well as joining green entrepreneur, eco-startup PoP Plastic and their Founder Scott Tiernan as he takes the next hotseat! If you missed the first session, you can register for the upcoming sessions here, and don’t forget to mark your calendars for the first in person session, Open Coffee: After Dark on April 21, 2022, 5:30pm at the Staunton Innovation Hub.

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