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Quickstarter helps area entrepreneur carve out new business

Friday, March 11, 2016

An Erie entrepreneur, who integrates his engineering background and love of Pennsylvania to make unique stone goods for the kitchen, is carving out a new business line, thanks to the help of a Mercyhurst University Quickstarter Campaign.

The man behind the saw is Andrew Church. By day he works at General Electric and by night he works on his small business, Bison Hill Stonecrafts. Church and his team take locally reclaimed roofing slate and hand cut the tiles into coasters, serving trays, ornaments, house numbers and many more products. 

Since its founding in 2015, Church’s entrepreneurial venture has been gaining steam and he is looking to expand by adding a new line of marble display trays and coasters. He is turning to the popular crowdfunding site, Kickstarter, for funds and is being guided by Mercyhurst students and intelligence studies associate professor Kristan Wheaton, who conceived a proven strategy – Quickstarter - for achieving crowdfunding success. Students working on his behalf include Mercyhurst sophomore Abby Rose of Waterford as project manager, Mercyhurst freshman Billy Wager of Erie as videographer, and Penn State Behrend junior Sydney Sample of Corry, who is handling the writing.

The team has developed a Facebook page (Bison Hill Stonecrafts), Wheaton’s prerequisite to a Kickstarter campaign, which had 775 likes at last count. The Kickstarter campaign is expected to launch in mid-April.

“These marble products are absolutely gorgeous and every tile is unique; I love the variations in patterns between each of the tiles,” says Church. “If you have been looking for a new way to present dishes when entertaining guests, these are a definite conversation starter.”  The new products feature a cut-out of any US state. 

Church is a lifelong Erie resident and is passionate about the new wave of online storefronts that make it possible for him to share his craft with customers across the country while staying grounded in Erie. 

“Erie has been a great place to start this business,” says Church. “I had no idea there were so many resources available for a beginning entrepreneur.”

The Mercyhurst Quickstarter initiative headed by Wheaton is funded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority’s Ignite Erie: Industry-University Business Acceleration Collaborative, led by Mercyhurst and Penn State Behrend.