Hello Social Co. moves into Bellefonte incubator
BELLEFONTE — The first member of Centre County’s newest business incubator has moved in and is ready to help other local businesses grow through a digital presence.
On Oct. 1, Hello Social Co. became the first member of SpringBoard to move into the new 1,400-square-foot coworking space at 120 S. Water St. It is the sixth business incubator to open in Centre County and it is expected to accommodate at least a dozen startup businesses.
The new business is run by Ellen Matis, 26, of Bellefonte, and focuses on helping small businesses with their online and social media presence.
Matis said she officially “opened” her business on April 1 and ran it out of her home in Indiana, Pa., before moving to Bellefonte one month later. When she moved to Bellefonte, she soon heard about SpringBoard and was the first to apply for a space during its May 25 grand opening.
“I love the small-town vibe with Bellefonte, but you can tell it’s still a happening place, and it felt like a good place to start my business,” she said.
Hello Social Co. primarily focuses on social media management, social media advertising and social media branding. Matis said the business also offers basic website design and virtual training sessions. The virtual sessions cover social media strategies for businesses and answer any questions businesses may have about their current social media strategies.
In the future, Hello Social Co. will offer training sessions at SpringBoard.
The first one, called “Holiday Social Media Strategies for Your Business,” is taking place Wednesday, Nov. 1 from 6 to 7 p.m. The workshop will focus on how social media can be used to bring in more customers during the holiday season. The workshop fee is $30, and interested local business owners are asked to reserve at ellen@hello socialco.com.
Although she may have started her career as a journalist, Matis said social media has always been her calling.
After graduating in 2012 with a degree in journalism and public relations from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Matis said she worked four years for The Indiana Gazette. She eventually took over the newspaper’s digital presence and helped start its digital agency division, Gazette Media & Marketing.
“Helping start that agency was kind of a glimpse into what I really wanted to do, which was start my business, and it was something that I had been thinking about for a while,” she said.
Currently, Matis is pursuing a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University.
Even growing up, Matis was on the cutting edge of the digital world. She said she always had an interest in website design and social media.
“There were the kids that were on MySpace, and then there were the kids that were building the cool themes that went on MySpace, and you decorated your profile with them,” she said. “I was always one of those people.”
It was in college that Matis said she first realized the power of social media for businesses.
She did an internship for IUP’s department of communications, where she helped manage the university’s social media accounts. “That’s when I knew it was going to be my job,” she said.
One person who really helped Matis start her business was Michele Papakie, a former professor from IUP and chair of the university’s journalism department.
“Right out of college, she was willing to help me do whatever I needed to do to make this happen,” Matis said.
Matis’ goal is to have her own space in downtown Bellefonte where she can hold workshops and people can come in and work on social media-related projects.
Matis believes that business incubators like SpringBoard are valuable resources for startup businesses.
“It’s an awesome place to come and be able to work and focus,” she said.
Before she moved into the incubator space in Bellefonte, coffee shops were her go-to places to work. Now, the business incubator affords her many more opportunities, including working side by side with colleague Melanie Valenza, 19, a current Penn State student who serves as brand outreach coordinator for Hello Social Co.
“It’s nice to have a desk and some place tangible to actually work and focus,” Valenza said.
“Living the coffee shop life is great in theory, but sometimes you’re trying to make a phone call and there’s a million people around,” Matis said. “One feature that I really love is the private phone booth (in SpringBoard).”
Other amenities at SpringBoard include a more permanent mailing address for one’s business, a conference room, a printer, lockable filing cabinets, a shared kitchen, and high-speed Wi-Fi. Matis said the location of the incubator is ideal for when creative blocks happen, as a quick walk through Talleyrand Park across the street helps reconvene one’s thoughts.
She also offered some advice for people who are looking to or just starting a business themselves.
“I really believe that when you start a business, you should focus on why you started that business,” she said. “It’s important to bring on people through outsourcing that can help you with the other stuff, because you as the business owner shouldn’t have to know how to do it all, you should just surround yourself with good people who can make good things happen.”
For more information about Hello Social Co., visit hellosocialco.com.