While the Peoria area is full of networking opportunities for established businesses, it once lacked similar opportunities for those who venture out on their own. With the mission of fostering greater entrepreneurial success, Novus Networking has been a welcome addition to the community since its 2004 inception.  

In January of that year, several local entrepreneurs were approached by the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship at Bradley University, the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center at Illinois Central College and the Bradley University Technology Commercialization Center about starting a networking group. They knew that such a group could only be run by entrepreneurs who know firsthand the needs of those who dare to step out on their own. With agreement on the need for such a group, Novus Networking was born. Attorney Bill Shay of Cover, Shay & Evans, and David Paul of Validus Technologies, were two of those founding members.

Paul described Novus Networking as “an informal network for entrepreneurs [that allows us to] share ideas, help each other out and make contacts.” With no membership fees or registration requirements, Novus is the perfect way to connect with other area entrepreneurs. “We get together about every other month in an informal setting to network, and usually have guest speakers on topics relevant to entrepreneurship,” he said.

The group tries to draw entrepreneurs of all types, whether seasoned, just starting out or aspiring to do so. “Substantive experts in the many subjects important to new business provide expert advice and resources that entrepreneurs can use,” added Shay.

The group used to meet at various locations around town but now makes its home at the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center. According to Novus’ current president, Donna Peters of DPA Services, “It provides consistency for the participants and makes it easier for them.” Each event begins with mingling and networking in the lobby, followed by a presentation by one or more guest speakers in the conference area, with more networking afterwards. “We try to adapt to what entrepreneurs need,” explained Paul. That means continually evolving and keeping topics relevant to the times and what they dictate for local entrepreneurs.

For now, Novus Networking continues to build the entrepreneurial network in Peoria and has a goal of reaching out to entrepreneurs in surrounding communities as well. “At Novus,” explained Peters, “you’ve got people who have already [ventured out on their own] and are experiencing the same situations.” Who better to learn from than those with experience? As they say, it is the best teacher. iBi