PandoLabs unveils a new membership model, increased focus on events throughout Utah
A Park City nonprofit that serves Utah’s burgeoning business sector has gotten a little more exclusive — and, its leaders hope, more focused.
David Bieber, a local entrepreneur who is PandoLabs’ managing director, took the reins of the organization in January. He hopes that restructuring the organization, which includes a transition to an invitation-only membership structure and hosting workshops around the state, will allow it to serve as a more focused space for entrepreneurs and investors to make connections.
The invitation-only system, Bieber says, will enable PandoLabs’ founding members to invite people to the group who they know will contribute.
“It makes sure that people know that people really value them, people really think they would add value to the organization,” Bieber said. “We want our members to not only be people who are going to get value but who will add value.”
That’s where the group gets its name and logo. The Pando aspen grove at Fishlake National Forest in central Utah consists of a colony of aspens that put down interconnected roots and effectively grow clones of themselves, forming one of the largest single organisms in the world.
“We look at that as what we’re trying to do for Utah’s entrepreneurial community; trying to connect the dots,” Bieber said.
The managing director said that, because the organization largely consists of people who have been onboard for years, including founder Jeramy Lund, he views the shift more as a “revitalization” than a “reorganization.”
“It was really about meeting with people who had gone through our program in the past, listening, learning, talking to people in business throughout the state,” Bieber said. “We’ve been very community-driven really based on a lot of feedback that everyone’s kind of looking for; trying to fill the gaps that haven’t been there.”
To accomplish that, Bieber said he has relied on PandoLabs’ founding members, who number around 100. The organization lists leaders at prominent Utah firms such as Adobe and Vivint Solar among its founders. Bieber plans for more announcements to come in the fall.
“We just opened our general membership and people are signing up very well,” Bieber said. “We really have not started doing any advertising or marketing around it because we want to make sure we have very sound programming and logistics.”
Programming in the early stages has included a July workshop at the University of Utah as well as an upcoming October workshop on business environment analysis with Bryan Christiansen, COO of Vivint Solar, at his company’s headquarters in Lehi.
PandoLabs also offers a “curated” business matchmaking program and “execution events,” Bieber said.
“So people can not only have entrepreneurial success but social success and enjoy life,” he said. “It’s really tough as you’re building your entrepreneurial initiative to move it forward. … But I really think it’s people coming together, connecting offline, and really just meeting great people.”
For Bieber himself, he’s found more than business connections as he’s taken the nonprofit through its transition.
“Some of my best friends, who I spend the majority of my time with, I’ve met most of them over the past seven months revitalizing PandoLabs.”
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The planning committee and the newly formed task forces will continue to work on the master planning priorities and will present to the Board of Education at its meeting Dec. 17.