Young Entrepreneurs Association of Harrisburg to provide support for the area’s future innovators in business

Alec Wantoch can rattle off his business accomplishments as if they belong on the resume of a Silicon Valley tech mogul.

As a third-year Computer Science major at Harrisburg University of Pennsylvania, Wantoch has used his connections, education and experience to already adopt an entrepreneurial mindset – and it’s paying off.

“Harrisburg University has been a great place for me to continue thinking like an entrepreneur and find other people who are eager to follow the same path of independence and innovation,” he said.

But, as many entrepreneurs will tell you, it isn’t always easy to set up shop and start seeing a profit, Wantoch said. There are so many legal requirements, technicalities and other steps that need to be taken before a business can even begin to operate. Sometimes all of the details and to-dos can be overwhelming.

Wantoch and fellow student Zachary Pelkey connected with Dr. Edgar Harrell, an Entrepreneur in Residence at Harrisburg University, who considers himself a “champion for giving people confidence as entrepreneurs.”

Dr. Harrell also is the founder of Harrell Capital Partners and has served on various boards, including Ben Franklin Technology Partners. He also serves as a mentor for the Founder Institute programs in Washington, D.C., and Honolulu.

With Dr. Harrell’s experience as an entrepreneur and an advisor to others venturing down the road of entrepreneurship, Wantoch and Pelkey decided to form the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Harrisburg as a resource for high school and college students to jumpstart their ideas for business success.

More commonly known as YEAH, the association will soon formally meet in downtown office space and will use its website – www.yeah-hbg.com – as a platform for continuing conversations and sharing resources.

“People don’t think about entrepreneurship early enough,” Dr. Harrell said. “You have to get them in that mindset as early as you can and teach them how to think, speak and dream like an entrepreneur.”

After about a year of trying to get an entrepreneurship club going, it seemed that one would never get off the ground. But Wantoch and Pelkey really stepped in to not only revive but reimagine what could be successful in terms of an association, Dr. Harrell said.

“They have done a lot of the things we were thinking about doing five years ago,” he said. “It’s about getting people to work together, to think together and dynamically move forward on their ideas.”

For Wantoch, who used his programming experience to start Heiwa Hosting and Jiyuu, a social networking website, the connections he has made in YEAH have already helped him, especially when it came to understanding the need for and how to properly write legal documents.

“Things that would normally take someone a long time to learn on their own and cost several hundred dollars in lawyer fees were taught to us in just a few minutes,” Wantoch said. “That’s the benefit of working together – we learn from each other.”

Dr. Harrell is excited to see the spirit of entrepreneurship continue to be fostered by Wantoch and Pelkey, as well as other area high school or college students who join YEAH.

“Anyone can be an entrepreneur,” Dr. Harrell said. “You don’t have to be a multimillionaire. You don’t have to be on ‘Shark Tank.’ And Harrisburg University is doing a great job of setting a new standard of what it means to pursue entrepreneurship.”

For more information on YEAH, visit the website here.