Entrepreneurial Spark Speaker Series

Join us at the Fall 2018 Entrepreneurial Spark! Darrel Branch, Sandra Tran and Gilbert Welsford are JMU graduates who operate in very different sectors, but the principles of branding and marketing are the same.

Darrel Branch is the founder and CEO of the Branch Out Group LLC, a marketing consulting firm that applies traditional marketing principles to help build mid-sized companies and non-traditional brands such as entrepreneurs, entertainers and athletes. The firm primarily serves as an out sourced Chief Marketing Officer to emerging businesses and enterprises. Darrel has created global comprehensive marketing strategies for many billion dollar brands in the beverage industry such Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Gold Peak and NESTEA.

Sandra Tran and Gilbert Welsford are 2012 graduates who in 2013 launched Nicecream together. Before that, Sandra got her feet wet in the fast paced world of start ups at LivingSocial. She always had a passion for innovation, and began experimenting with a food concept that would grow into Nicecream, an innovative ice cream company that makes ice cream directly in front of customers using liquid nitrogen. There are now 4 Nicecream locations in Virginia and D.C.

Gilbert is an entrepreneur at heart. In addition to Nicecream, he has led multiple companies from the beginning stages of development to growth in multiple cities. Gilbert consults entrepreneurs and small businesses in start up and growth strategy. His passion is helping college aged students realize the benefits, risks, and lifestyle of a young business leader and entrepreneur, so that they might pursue their dreams of being creators.


5:00 – Doors open for networking

5:30 – Featured speakers

6:15 – Questions

6:30 – Stay around to continue the conversation or join us for dinner at Clementine

**Space is limited, please RSVP early.**

After the program, continue the discussion upstairs for dinner (Dutch treat) at Clementine. Please RSVP separately for the event and for the dinner.

Entrepreneurial Spark Speaker Series showcases the stories and lessons from the business and non-profit worlds that can only come from the people who have lived them.

Register for October 23, 2018 Entrepreneurial Spark Series

SVTC Members-Only Event at Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

 IIHS Logo

Membership has its privileges, incl. membership in the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council.  At times we are able to offer  —to our members— exclusive access to often non-public places and tours, and we are beyond delighted to offer a tour of the facility, and attendance at a crash test of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in Ruckersville. (https://www.iihs.org/iihs/about-us)

IIHS is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from motor vehicle crashes. For decades, IIHS has been a leader in finding out what works and doesn’t work to prevent motor vehicle crashes from happening in the first place and to minimize injuries in the crashes that still occur.

Vehicle Research Center
In 1992, IIHS opened the VRC. Tucked in the foothills of central Virginia, this state-of-the-art facility is where IIHS performs the crash tests that form the basis of its widely consulted vehicle ratings.

Space is limited and once the available spots are gone, the sign-up form will stop accepting submissions. (Only 2 registrations per member organization, please.)

9:15 am meet in a parking lot (location tbd) – divide into several car-pools if we can.
(If you’re willing to drive, please indicate on the registration form.)

10:15 am, arrive; 10:30 – 11:30, Tour of facility; 11:30 – 12 noon, crash test

12 noon, lunch (sponsored by Rockingham Insurance, at IIHS)

Depart ~ 1 pm; arrive back in Harrisonburg ~ 2 pm

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We appreciate the sponsorship of Rockingham Insurance
who has facilitated this tour for us,
and is feeding us lunch!Rockingham Insurance logo

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Not a member but want to come along on Oct 25 and also gain all the other business and visibility benefits of membership – be part of the tech fabric of the Valley? Become a member today: SVTC Membership Options

SVTC Members-Only Event Sign-up | Oct. 25, 2018

Please pre-register so that we can plan the set-up of the location and bring a pre-printed nametag for you.
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SVTC Luncheon | Staunton Innovation Hub

Registration is now open – form below. 

At our October luncheon, Peter Denbigh from the Staunton Innovation Hub will be leading us through the facility – a 28,000 square foot campus that houses some of our favorite local businesses, a co-working space, and coming soon: clean tech lab and event space. Most importantly, the Staunton Hub is an inspiring assemblage of creative minds and joyful people. All the details: https://www.stauntonhub.com/en

By supporting the area’s community through the entrepreneurial continuum, the Staunton Innovation Hub’s chief mission is to reduce the barriers to innovation. These barriers may range from financial to emotional, knowledge to network, time to space, and beyond.  By having the right people in the right space with the right network and the right culture, the ecosystem that grows can allow for the fast flow of talent, information and resources so that entrepreneurs can quickly find what they need at each stage of growth. As a result, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Peter Denbigh PhotoAbout the Speaker: Peter Denbigh is a serial entrepreneur with a wide range of expertise. He is experienced with managing several million dollar alternative fuel projects; starting, growing, and selling business ventures; and mentoring and advising startups.  He is the founder and chief chaos creator at Skyler Innovations, the parent company of the popular party game Watch Ya Mouth. His official title for the Staunton Innovation Hub is chief instigator. Peter is a graduate of James Madison University’s MBA program where his focus was on innovation and leadership.  He is a certified car nut who loves anything with wheels, outdoor adventures, and environmental stewardship.

Pizza and water will be available at the luncheon for $5. We’ll be in the soon-to-be-renovated warehouse and eat while standing up. Below, please indicate whether you plan on grabbing some pizza with us so we know how much to order. Payment: pay at the event with cash or credit card. 

Membership not required. Pre-registration encouraged.


Thank you to our luncheon sponsors!

 BRCC Logo        Cadence logo          CISE Logo         PBMares, LLC logo

Shentel Logo     Steven Toyota Logo       WAW logo


Student Entrepreneurship Showcase

Come join us at the Student Entrepreneurship Showcase!

Real companies. JMU students. From every corner of campus.

Eighteen student fellows, three mentors, and three exchange students spent the summer developing their businesses with workspace, entrepreneurship programming and instructions, and funding opportunities provided by the Center for Entrepreneurship. By the end of the program, each venture gained real-life traction with customers and revenue. The fellows traveled to NYC to speak with alumni entrepreneurs and then swept Princeton University’s eLab in a pitch competition. Come hear these winning pitches! This event will occur from 6:30pm-8pm with a reception to follow.

For more information, please email cfe@jmu.edu or call (540)568-4695.

Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund | Information Session (Pre-registration encouraged)

Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) Information Session

The Center for Innovative Technology (cit.org) is pleased to preview the CRCF FY2019 solicitation, identifying programs offered, eligibility criteria, and other high-level information. Approximately $2.4 million is available to award. The RFP will be issued in early October and will include complete criteria, including program guidelines and application materials. CRCF staff will be present at JMU’s Lakeview Hall on October 23rd for a regional briefing and will answer questions. Use the form below to register.

Webinar (WebEx)

For those unable to attend the information session, a webinar is available. Individuals can join using the WebEx app (incl. video) or can call in. Webex and parking info will be emailed to registered attendees closer to the event date (registration form below).


The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) advances science- and technology-based research, development, and commercialization to drive economic growth in Virginia, create and foster high-potential technology companies in the Commonwealth, and to encourage and strengthen collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sector.

Industry Sectors

Applications submitted under any FY2019 solicitation program must align with one or more of the following industry sectors and, where indicated, subsectors.

  • Cyber Security, with particular interest in applications for autonomous systems, identity management, cloud infrastructure, and Internet of Things
  • Energy, specifically clean energy
  • Information Technology, specifically data analytics
  • Life Sciences, with particular interest in precision medicine, neuroscience, and medtech
  • Unmanned Systems


A single solicitation will be offered in FY2019, with five programs available for funding: Commercialization, SBIR Matching Funds, STTR Matching Funds, Matching Funds, and Eminent Researcher Recruitment.

The CRCF programs support commercialization goals through technology development in Virginia. CRCF monies additionally may be used for market validation, intellectual property protection, acquisition of materials and supplies, and/or other efforts that further technology commercialization and drive economic benefits to Virginia. Projects must be based upon sound scientific principles and present an opportunity for valid research.

More information about the CRCF FY2019 Solicitation (Preview)

Questions? For location and logistics, call the Shen. Valley Technology Council at 540.568.7882, info@svtc-va.org. For CRCF questions, please contact CIT at (703) 689-3000 or  CRCF@cit.org

See form below to register.

(Parking and Webex info will be sent after registration, prior to the event date, by email)

CRCF Info Session Sign-up | Oct. 23, 2018

    Note: parking information and WebEx access information will be sent closer to the event date.
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edUi 2018 Conference

Join us on October 8 – 10 for edUi 2018!

edUi is a 3-day conference for web professionals working at institutions of learning-colleges, universities, libraries, and museums. Presented by Virginia Humanities. The event will take place at a variety of venues on the scenic pedestrian mall in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia (view map).

For more information, visit: https://www.eduiconf.org

Register for October 8-10 edUi Conference (discount code ROCKTOWN has been applied to this link for $100 off your ticket — thanks to the edUi Planning Team!)

FIRST LEGO League Regional Tournament


FIRST Lego league logo horizontal


FLL Into Orbit Logo

Volunteers Needed!
This event is free and open to the public! Come see what it’s all about. Prepare for excitement, robotics, and LEGOS! Better yet — volunteer. Just a few hours of your time can have a huge impact! To sign up as a volunteer, please complete the following form: Harrisonburg Regional FLL Tournament Volunteers.

2018 Challenge: Into Orbit
Join FLL’s mission into the 30th season of FIRST®! Prepare for blast off, break out of your earthly constraints and go INTO ORBITSM. The 2018/2019 FIRST® LEGO® League season will transport your FLL team into space, where you’ll explore, challenge, and innovate in the vast expanse of space.

FIRST LEGO League challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. During the INTO ORBIT season, teams will choose and solve a real-world problem in the Project. They will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology to solve a set of missions in the Robot Game. Throughout their experience, teams will operate under the FIRST signature set of Core Values, celebrating discovery, teamwork, and Gracious Professionalism®

For more information, visit https://va-dcfll.org/about-us/

FLL Team Start-Up Grants Available
Each year, the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council sponsors three new FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams from the Shenandoah Valley. Approximately half of the start-up cost of a new FLL team is reimbursed, up to $350.

Teams must be located in the footprint of the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s area of operation and intend to participate in the FLL competition within one year of receiving the grant. This grant can be used towards any equipment required for competition in FIRST LEGO League, including one or more LEGO robotics kits, a competition practice table, and an FLL field setup kit.

If you are interested in applying for the FLL Start-Up Grant, please complete the following form, and follow the steps as indicated on the form: FLL Reimbursement Grant Application (pdf)

DIGITAL Women in Technology

Come celebrate CS Education Week at DIGITAL with JMU Women in Technology (WIT).

DIGITAL Women in Technology Banner

Learn Python programming, program Finch and Hummingbird Robots, create art with Chibitronics, get a chance to fly a drone and then form a team to design and implement your own project with what you learned. DIGITAL is an event open to middle school and high school girls interested in technology. College students from JMU Women in Technology (JMU WIT) lead girls through hands-on activities to help them engage with new technologies. JMU WIT strives to support and celebrate girls and women interested in STEM fields from the classroom to the workforce.

Registration is FREE. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Questions? Contact Melissa Heatwole at heatwoml@jmu.edu or 540-568-4226

Register for October 13, 2018 DIGITAL event



Registration now open – see form below.

Shenandoah Valley Techsters Logo


Using best practices and lessons learned from Capital One in conjunction with the long-standing TECHSTERS program, many technology and innovation business councils in Virginia are working together to host a statewide “Capture the Flag” event on Saturday, Nov. 3 that will expose girls to the cybersecurity industry in a fun and interactive game style. This program is meant to inspire a future generation to discover technology, get excited about STEM, and build code for real-world applications.

(Formed in 2013, TECHSTERS is an after-school program for middle school aged girls dedicated to inspiring young women to pursue their interests in STEM fields. Since the program’s first day event with robotic balls called Spheros, TECHSTERS has served over 1,100 students in the greater Richmond region. In 2017, Capital One used the TECHSTERS model to host ten regional coding programs for middle school girls all across the Commonwealth. The outcome was spectacular as they reached over 900 students in two days.)

Equipment and FYIs:

  • Participants can bring their own Internet-ready, wifi-enabled laptops and will log into the wifi network
  • Team size: up to three girls. Teams will form after arrival.
  • We will supply 12 computers for up to 36 girls. Please indicate on the registration form whether you will bring your own laptop or will borrow one.
  • After registration, we will email JMU parking instructions

Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Massanutten Technical Center!

Massanutten Technical Center Logo

And thank you to our supporters, Staunton Innovation Hub and SunRunr!

Staunton Innovation Hub LogoSunRunr Logo


TECHSTERS Sign-up | Nov. 3, 2018

  • Student Information

  • Note: we will be providing a limited amount of computers (12). If there are girls who are able to provide their own laptop, we'll be able to host more girls/teams.
  • Primary Parent/Guardian Information

  • Secondary Parent/Guardian Information

  • Allergy, Medication, and Emergency Contact

  • Terms and Conditions

    I, the Parent/Legal Guardian give permission for the student, for which this form was completed, to

    1) participate in all Techsters activities as described on the program flyer
    2) receive medical attention deemed necessary, by qualified medical personnel during the entire time that he or she is participating in activities related to the Techster’s program.
    3) authorize ORGANIZATION and SPONSOR/HOST, through its agents, employees, or designated representatives, to sell, reproduce, distribute or similarly use, without restriction, any photographs or videotapes of my child and/or sound recordings of my child’s voice, taken during the program. By typing your name you have read and agree to the terms.
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Valley Business Summit 2018


Valley Business Summit 2018- Business Connections

Come to the Valley Business Summit on Monday, August 13th from 1 pm – 4:30 pm. Join Valley business owners and managers for the Keynote Address from Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, Business Panel and Entrepreneurial Stories, and Q&A with Local Legislators.

Joining us for the Business Panel will be:

  • Caitie Maharg, Executive Chef/Owner, Blue Oregano Culinary Services
  • Janet Dob, Maker of Bake’mmm Bagels, Bageladies
  • John Garber, President/General Manager, Red Front Super Market

Registration is now open. Please note that membership is NOT required to register. When registering as a non-member, under “Not a member” select “Click here to continue your event registration.”

Register at: http://tinyurl.com/VBSummit18