PBE Annual FAILMeet only has one speaking spot left!

Hey Everybody,

We only have one speaking spot left for our annual PBE FAILMeet where members share their entrepreneurial lessons learned!  If you know of someone that would like to speak about their first hand experience, don't hesitate to have them contact us as soon as possible!

Details here:


Also, if you can make it, I HIGHLY recommend doing so.  Our annual FAILMeet is one of the best meetups we have all year.  Guaranteed to be both informative and entertaining!  Be sure to RSVP "Yes" if you are attending!

See you October 20th,



Special Gift for 01/21/2016 Meetup Attendees

Brook Jones, CEO & Founder of Red Door Marketing Agency, will be tomorrow's speaker for our Monthly PBE Event on Thursday, January 21.  In addition to speaking for us tomorrow, she is also generous enough to offer $100 off a Google Adwords campaign when attendees spend $25 on their own Google Adword Campaign!  Tell a friend and be sure to come tomorrow!

Five Mississippi firms show off new products at CSE

Tony over at Innovate MS posted a really interesting article about five MS startups that are actually a part of the huge Consumer Electronics Show (CES) currently underway in Las Vegas. Tony writes that one of the five firms is founded by our very own PBE Member, Jennifer Gatewood:

"I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about the Mississippi companies that are participating in CES 2016, but I wanted to at least mention who they are and what they are doing at CES. Peer Elevate Funding is Mississippi’s only approved equity crowdfunding portal.  Jennifer Gatewood, the founder of Peer Elevate Funding, is now part of a growing national group of equity crowdfunding websites."

The full article, which is worth the read, can be found by click on the link below:



PS.  Congrats Jennifer!

Startup Weekend Hattiesburg is this Weekend!

Hey Everybody,

Just a reminder that Startup Weekend Hattiesburg is this weekend, Friday, November 6, 2015 at 6:00 PM - Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 8:00 PM.  If you have a startup idea, or don't have an idea but want to join a startup team, NOW is your chance! Startup Weekend is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, so you don't want to miss it!

You can get all the details at the Up Hattiesburg Website

First Annual FAILMeet on October 15!


“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” - Denis Waitley


Now that our group officially has 80 registered members we have reached enough folks to starting getting some really diverse feedback and lessons learned on entrepreneurial life.  So with that said, PBE's very first annual FAILMeet will be on this day!

The format of this month's meetup will be different than past months due to this being a special event so here is how it will work:

a.  Have you already encountered a small business or startup "lesson learned"?  If so BE PROUD!  Share it with others because we could ALL benefit from your knowledge of what didn't work. 

b.  If you are willing to share your epic bad decision or experience, then PLEASE contact Chris via either the Meetup Messenger or from the PBE.club Submit Info page, and we will put you on the roster to speak for up to 15 minutes about your "delightful" experience!

c.  As people submit their stories, I will start building out the schedule, which will be updated to this page below.

d.  Even if you are a potential entrepreneur and don't have a story yet, still try to make it.  I guarantee this will be a great event with equal parts entertaining and educational!


Please RSVP "yes" if you can attend as we rely heavily on RSVP count for event planning.  Venue TBD based upon RSVP count.   See the official Meetup Event Page for more details.

After-hours Social September 24!

Hey Everybody,

The details and location of tomorrow's after-hours social have been confirmed:

This month we are going to do something new!  We are partnering with "Woman Business Owners of the Pine Belt" (WBOPB) for an after-hours social! Be sure to come out, enjoy a few drinks, and chat with the members of a neighboring small business group that shares the same interests as us!

The outline of the event as published via WBOPB:

"Join us on the Patio at Cotton Blues for networking, appetizers, and door prizes!

In another Woman Business Owners of the Pine Belt first, we're co-hosting this After Hours event with Hattiesburg's own Pine Belt Entrepreneurs group.

Chris Spence will talk briefly about the PBE's upcoming FailMeet event - you'll really want to hear about this innovative event for entrepreneurs!

The cost to attend is $10 in advance, $15 at the door, and includes appetizers. Drinks are available for purchase. 

If possible, please register in advance so that we can prepare the venue and order adequate food.

Door prizes have been donated by two of our generous members. 

If you'd like to donate a door prize, please email Mary Williams at wbopinebelt@gmail.com."

Needless to say, this is an OUTSTANDING opportunity to meet with a new group of folks and hear more about what is going on with small business owners, entrepreneurs, and thinkers right here in our own town.  Do try to make it!  You will be glad you did!

The EventBrite link for discounted/advance ticket purchase can be found here:


Please also RSVP "yes" if you can attend as we rely heavily on RSVP count for event planning.

Hope to see you there!

WBOPB Event: Wine Tasting / Food Pairing Social on June 4

Hey Ladies,

PBE Member Mary is one of the original founders of "Woman Business Owners of the Pine Belt" (WBOPB), and wanted to let all of the ladies know that their organization is having a Wine Tasting & Food Pairing on June Fourth.  Complete details of the event can be found on the EventBrite Link Here. WBOPB non-members are welcome to attend.

For those of you that don't know, WBOPB is a group of women who own businesses in the Pine Belt. They meet for lunch monthly on the third Thursday at Branch in Hattiesburg. It's been in the area for approximately six years.  

Some other items to note regarding the event:

  • The event is for women only, so leave the boyfriends and husbands at home.  =)
  • Business casual dress attire is recommended for the wine-tasting.
  • While you do not have to be a WBOPB member to attend, the event is intended for business owners.

MS Secretary of State Seminar on Internet Crowdfunding

From a mass email sent out by the Mississippi Secretary of State:

The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office will hold an informational seminar on Internet Crowdfunding on Wednesday, April 29th from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Clyde Muse Center, located at 515 Country Place Parkway in Pearl, MS.

Individuals or small business startups interested in raising capital for their business by having their own crowdfunding offering are invited to attend. The seminar will also be of interest to individuals who want to learn more about how to invest in crowdfunding offerings and companies interested in setting up a registered portal to sell these offerings over the Internet.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and representatives from the Securities Division of the Agency will discuss: Crowdfunding administrative rules; the law and how to apply for approval of your offering, and the do’s and don’ts of raising capital. Other speakers may also be added to the agenda.

There will be a Q&A session and supplemental information provided. For more information call Jessica Long at 601-359-6366. Please RSVP by April 24, 2015 to crowdfunding@sos.ms.gov if you would like to attend.

To join the seminar from a remote location:
Crowdfunding Seminar 
Wed, Apr 29, 11:30 am 
(Central Daylight Time, GMT-05:00)
Host: Secretary of State
Join the meeting
Access Information
Where: WebEx Online
Meeting number: 198 737 201
Password: This meeting does not require a password.

Connect by Phone
+1-415-655-0001 US TOLL
Access code: 198 737 201
IMPORTANT NOTICE: This WebEx service includes a feature that allows audio and any documents and other materials exchanged or viewed during the meeting to be recorded. By joining this meeting, you automatically consent to such recordings. If you do not consent to the recording, discuss your concerns with the meeting host prior to the start of the recording or do not join the meeting. Please note that any such recordings may be subject to discovery in the event of litigation.


March Crowdfunding Event Invitations

Dr. Stephen Whitt at The Innovation Center wanted me to let everyone know about the upcoming crowdfunding related meetups:

Come join us to talk equity and rewards crowdfunding and the opportunities it brings to your local areas! Investors, entrepreneurs, experts and community organizers all benefit, so let's get together to see the new platform that is going to change the crowdfunding landscape. Bring a laptop if possible! 

All meetings will take place in the large conference room at The Innovation Center 1636 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, MS.

Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg Business 101 Series Workshops

Looking for help with:

  • The first steps to starting a business
  • How to Develop a Business Plan
  • Cash Flow Projections for Your Business Plan

If so, the flyer below provides and overview of upcoming GC (Gulf Coast) and USM (Hattiesburg) Business 101 Series workshops for March 2015:

Check it out and tell a friend!

PBE Update - February 2015

Hey Folks, the agenda for our February Meetup is posted below:


Meetup Session Agenda:

* 6:00 - 6:10:  First part of the night will be reserved for networking and to mingle, followed by general club updates and announcements.

* This month's meetup is unique as we are performing our first "split session" where two different speakers are presenting shorter sessions on two different topics:

6:10 - 6:50:  First Speaker Presents:

Author, publisher, and serial entrepreneur, Arrmon Abedikichi, presents on The Science of Goal-Setting:  

As entrepreneurs, we are always setting goals and chasing dreams. Have you ever set goals and lost motivation over time? Soon these goals were forgotten, lost, or even abandoned. Learn how to effectively set goals and achieve them with strategic planning.

1.  Step-by-step formula for setting goals that last

2.  Learn the “secret weapon” of goal-setting

3.  Productivity & life hacks to help you along the way

6:50 - 7:00:  Group break while second speaker prepares.

7:00 - 7:40: Second Speaker Presents: 

Brantley Fryfogle, local IT consultant and service provider at Kyneteks, will present a brief summary of “The Cloud”:

1.  What is “The Cloud”?  

2.  Why is it significant to entrepreneurs?

3.   Is it right for me and my business or idea?

4.  What are the pros and cons of using the cloud? 


Interested in attending?  Let us know by clicking here.

PBE Update - January 2015

Hey Everybody,

A couple of quick updates:

1.  I wanted to send out a message to let everyone know that one of our very own PBE Members, Amy Varnado, just launched the very company she spoke about at our October 2014 Meetup! Top Tier Board Games opened for business on January 1, and when I checked out their store it was so packed with customers there was nowhere to sit! I have invited Amy to give us a six month follow up from her prior presentation around April of this year.  I imagine she will have a ton of lessons learned by then that could benefit us all!  If you get a chance, be sure to check out her store. It is off of Hardy Street, near Newk's.

2.  Our next meetup is less than two weeks away!  If you know of anyone that wants to mingle with other like-minded individuals and/or learn about small business funding or investing via "the crowd" be sure to share this link with them!

See you on the 15th,


Hattiesburg had a startup incubator come and go before we even knew it

At our last PBE meeting I provided a print out from CNN Money that ranked Hattiesburg, MS, as Number Nine on its 2009 Top 10 “Best Places to Launch” for Startups. Like many of those that received the print out, I was shocked that not only did CNN even know our town, but gave it such a flattering score. However as one begins to read the details of the article, additional factoids arise that are just as curious as the celebratory designation itself.

For starters:

“Hattiesburg prides itself on a long-standing tradition of entrepreneurship -- a legacy it's working to carry forward by supporting companies in expanding industries and encouraging young, educated workers to stay in the city.”[1]

Really?  Being born and raised in Mississippi, I never heard of Hattiesburg (or any Mississippi town for that matter) as being such a fertile ground for entrepreneurs.  The following sentence was even more shocking:

“In 2005, Hattiesburg's Area Development Partnership and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) opened Business Launchpoint, an incubator that supports small businesses with high growth potential. A half-dozen companies are located within the incubator, and a previous tenant, Town Square Design Co., was acquired by Eco-Systems Inc. in March.”[2]

WOW!  Not only do we pride ourselves on a long-standing tradition of entrepreneurship, but we even have our own startup incubator?! Granted, the source of this post is a 2009 CNN article, but if our Hattiesburg incubator is so well established that it has already produced its first acquisition target almost six years ago, surely current and future entrepreneurs can utilize this invaluable local resource – right?

This is the point where the shock and awe of the CNN article turned into sheer confusion for me.  I immediately tried to learn more about “Business Launchpoint” via their official website at www.businesslaunchpoint.com, only to find an advertisement that “this domain may be for sale”. Not a good sign.   To ensure this was not a fake CNN article or some type of other gimmick, I began to google numerous terms associated with the content of the article and learn that Business Launchpoint had actually made quite a splash in local media. Several noteworthy search results that immediately surfaced:

Mississippi Business Journal:  “Business Launchpoint sending Hattiesburg start-ups sky high”[3]

University of Southern Mississippi, Office of University Communications:  “Southern Miss Incubator Helps Jump Start Local Business Effort”[4]

Privco: “Business Launchpoint - Trent Lott National Center”[5]

As denoted by the prior two links, more research suggested that the Business Lauchpoint incubator was a public/private partnership between at least private investors, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Area Development Partnership, and maybe others.

So what happened? How did we go from being on the top ten list of CNN’s Best Places to Launch for 2009, to a dead domain name and radio silent incubator? I am pleased (and saddened) to learn that our very own PBE Member Brantley Fryfogle was able to contact someone that knew the backstory.  A person that was quite knowledgeable about the Business Launchpoint incubator filled in the blanks for Brantley:

“Business Launchpoint was disbanded several years ago when the University was undergoing budget challenges.  While it was successful in launching several small firms, the University suffered several setbacks that ultimately spelled its demise.  There was significant support for the incubator when in launched from internal university leadership and from the community's/county's leadership.  As you likely know, change in leadership brings new focuses.  Therefore, when the fiscal challenges occurred in conjunction with the recession, financial support ebbed from all parties supporting the incubator.  Coupled with all of this was the building owner's desire to raise the rent on a fairly marginal building.  The University made the decision to disband the effort and focus its efforts on the high tech incubator in its new technology park.”

It should be said that the “high tech incubator” mentioned in the quote above actually deals with the science department of the university and is not the normal startup incubator that Business Launchpoint was – and the kind we still need now.

So there you have it.  Hattiesburg, Mississippi, did have its very own startup incubator that was actually fruitful during its short life.  Among the numerous takeaways we can glean from the Business Launchpoint story is that we do in fact have talented local entrepreneurs with good ideas that can be taken to market if only a supportive infrastructure is in place to help them do so.

Isn’t it about time for a new Business Launchpoint?  


[1] http://money.cnn.com/smallbusiness/best_places_launch/2009/snapshot/142.html

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://msbusiness.com/blog/2008/07/14/business-launchpoint-sending-hattiesburg-startups-sky-high

[4] http://www.usm.edu/news/archives/older/cms/index9fc1.html

[5] http://www.privco.com/investors/business-incubator-sbdc/business-launchpoint-trent-lott-national-center

11/05/2014 Newsletter

Hey Folks!

A quick newsletter to include various updates:

1.       Today I received an official email from the Meetup.com crew.  They wanted to let me know various things, including the fact that PBE is approaching its three month anniversary on November 20 (how sentimental), and that I may find interest in their three month Meetup group metrics. Turns out, they are right; I did find the metrics interesting and thought some of you may find them interesting as well.  According to the email:

“Many organizers find that the 3rd month is when their Meetup Group really takes off and begins having successful Meetups with 5 - 10 people.”

At the time of this email, we just registered our 24th member – go team go! We are also having Meetup attendance in the 5 - 10 range as well.

2.       Recognizing that our past two meetups have been absolutely fantastic in terms of quality of discussion and input, I feel it is safe to assume that PBE is onto something and worthy of additional investment. As such I went out and got us a website:  www.PBE.club

The website is powered by SquareSpace (as this was a company I was already familiar with) so it is easy to put content up and move it around.  Here is the part that is not as easy:  What all should the content be?  If you have ideas, want to help with content, want to help with marketing the club, heck – if you want to help with anything – please reach out to me directly. I purposely wanted to let you know about the website ahead of our next meetup so that you could have some time to brainstorm.  I am open to ideas!  For example, we already have a need for an API interface or a quick and easy way to embed data between our website and the various platforms we operate on already (the Meetup Site and the recently created LinkedIn group).  I am hoping PBE.club will serve as a central location that ties these various social media platforms together – without having to manually copy and paste each post/event/whatever between each ecosystem.

3.       Speaking of next Meetup – mark your calendars and RSVP Yes for November 13! The details of the Meetup can be found on its corresponding event page:  http://www.meetup.com/Pine-Belt-Entrepreneurs/events/215462932/

See you on the 13th,