YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Yes: York, Pa. Not the typical dateline for a story about venture capital.
But a company called White Rose Ventures has invested its first $1.5 million in four Midstate companies — two in Harrisburg, one in Lancaster and one in York.
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As the name suggests, White Rose Ventures is based in York and has roots there: Alexa Born, the firm’s managing director, went to high school there (at York Suburban) with the wife of Martin Fedorko, the managing partner. The three went to University of Pittsburgh and came back to York.
Why doesn’t Midstate Pa. — the state’s fastest-growing region — come to most people’s minds alongside places like Silicon Valley, Seattle or Austin during discussions about entrepreneurialism and start-up businesses? Fedorko says the issue it’s not a lack of ideas here.
“We want to bring capital and talent to the entrepreneurs that we know exist here in the region and need that sort of accommodation to grow and scale their businesses,” he said.
The first four White Rose investee companies are:
- Naqi Logix, which got its start at Harrisburg University. Fedorko described it as “an ‘Internet of Things’ company and platform that helps users engage with the invisible environment around them.”
- Harrisburg-based Pledge It, which provides online fundraising tools for nonprofits.
- Lancaster-based Reflexion, which Fedorko described as “a cognitive health-based company looking to help individuals improve their mental awareness as it relates to the activities they are engaging in.”
- The York-based cybersecurity company cyberconIQ, which focuses on using psychology to prevent phishing attacks — i.e., when an email appears to be something it’s not, in order to fraudulently gather personal information — within companies.
Fedorko said those first four companies are among 20 to 25 local companies in which White Rose’s first fund will ultimately invest. And he said the pan-Midstate nature of the investments is no accident.
“If you count our three metropolitan statistical areas together, we’re a contender. We’re, you know, 2.5 million people and growing,” he said. “We’re the fastest growing region of the state. If we think of ourselves as a unit, and if we get more organized, we have all the pieces.”
Through its nonprofit Braided River Collective entity, which Born heads, White Rose backs the Keystone Merge program, which — among other things — holds monthly educational and networking meetings for entrepreneurs. The meetings rotate among the three cities.