Factory LLC to Host StartUp Valley Event to Foster Innovation in the Lehigh Valley

Factory is on a mission to make the Lehigh Valley a national center for entrepreneurship and new innovation, and to kick things off we’re hosting our first StartUp Valley event at Factory on October 30, 2019!

The purpose of the event is to begin to position the Lehigh Valley as the innovation hub of the East Coast by bringing together local business leaders, angel investors, industry experts, merchants, higher education representatives, students, community members and, of course, entrepreneurs. The networking event will include an innovation pitch competition in which start-up founders and entrepreneurs will present their business ideas to the local community.

Factory plans to spend $250 million investing in young food, beverage and pet companies over the next several years to strengthen their growth and expansion into national sales while fostering an ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the Lehigh Valley.

“With the support of the local community, we believe that the Lehigh Valley can become the next Austin, TX or Boulder, CO—cities that are currently hotbeds for entrepreneurial start-ups,” said Richard Thompson, managing partner at Factory and former CEO of Freshpet. “We chose the name StartUp Valley for this event to signify that it is truly inclusive of everyone in the Lehigh Valley community.”

Approximately 10 entrepreneurs will be chosen to present their new innovations and products to the room in a rapid pitch competition during the StartUp Valley event. Though Factory specializes in the food, beverage and pet sector, the pitch event is open to all new products and innovations. Audience members will vote for their favorite pitch using a smartphone app and the top three winners will be awarded cash prizes or Factory services.

Entrepreneurs with a disruptive business idea are invited to apply to take part in the StartUp Valley quick pitch portion of the event.

Prior to the pitch event, the evening will kick off with a networking and cocktail hour with light bites prepared by Factory’s in-house chefs and drinks by Molly’s Irish Grill and Sports Pub of south Bethlehem and Black Hawk Imports, a wine and spirits importer. Penn State Lehigh Valley’s entrepreneurial LaunchBox program, Lehigh University’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, Lafayette College’s Dyer Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Northampton Community College’s Follett Family Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and arts-based community enrichment nonprofit ArtsQuest are event sponsors and partners.

Factory’s headquarters, where the event will be held, is a refurbished 1940s Bethlehem Steel building that underwent a $12 million renovation in 2018, for which Factory was awarded the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Commercial Real Estate Development Adaptive Reuse Award.

“The Lehigh Valley is situated in a wonderful location to be a center of innovation. We have easy access to major airports in New York and Philadelphia, great distribution centers, good manufacturing opportunities and wonderful local colleges and universities where we’ve found a lot of bright talent to intern at Factory,” Thompson said. “What we need to do is organize all of these local assets into attracting more and more entrepreneurs and angel investors to grow the ecosystem for entrepreneurship in the Lehigh Valley.”