Orlandopreneur’s swift growth a result of community, education

Roger Warren understands firsthand that entrepreneurship rarely goes smoothly.

By its nature, obstacles will arise.

But on those rainy days that inevitably come from starting a business, it is helpful that groups and meetups like Orlandopreneur exist.

“Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely road,” said Warren, who recently launched Huvi Gaming Center in Oviedo. “Many times it’s hard to get help because most friends are not in their own business and do not understand what we go though daily.”

“Orlandopreneur is crucial to keep the network of entrepreneurs together to help each other.”

That was kind of the point when Rupert Meghnot helped start the group in late 2022.

Ever since, it has grown to become one of the largest meetup groups in Central Florida, boasting an online following of more than 2,000 users.

The group routinely receives between 180 and 200 RSVPs online for its monthly meetup events.

“They’re hungry for personal interactions,” Meghnot said of his group’s membership. “They want new business opportunities and want to meet like-minded people.”

The model for Orlandopreneur is not a new one, nor is it the only meetup group in Orlando that brings together sectors of the business community.

The Orlando Devs meetup has more than 7,000 programmers that meet each month.

But Orlandopreneur has seen its growth come quickly primarily because of its focus on supporting startups.

“Everyone who supposedly controls the purse strings and the policies that affect us focuses almost solely on the big score,” Meghnot said. “Nobody considers that every ‘big score’ firm they try to attract (to Orlando) was once a startup.”

Instead, Meghnot said, the ecosystem should consider growing from within the city’s already existing business community.

“Attracting these larger firms to the area is important,” he said. “Creating them here is more so. This is the message that’s resonating with our members.”

The group grew out of Meghnot’s frustration with what he called a “lack of progress” in the city’s startup community.

That’s despite the city’s glowing rankings in areas like startup-friendliness, workforce availability and the cluster of entrepreneurial service organizations that already exist here.

“I wanted to create an organization that sets an example for what collaboration and innovation really means,” he said.

At each meetup, Rupert includes an educational component, usually focused on a topic that startups can benefit from.

“We made it a priority to include teaching because we want to encourage them to ask questions, develop the right mindset and plan sufficiently for their success,” he said

As he tries to build Huvi, Warren has found potential partners in as-yet-announced projects through Orlandopreneur.

He has been attending the meetup for more than a year and says he frequently walks away with some valuable contacts.

Earlier this month, the meetup showed off some of his hardware at The Vanguard, a downtown venue usually reserved for concerts and musical acts.

“I am in a much better place as an entrepreneur because of Orlandopreneur,” he said. “We find support in each other and that support leads us to many victories.”