5 Awesome Resources for Hartford, Connecticut Entrepreneurs

As part of our commitment to bringing you information and opinions about entrepreneurship and technology, our January Guest Post features R.C. Thornton, President of Focosos, an innovative project and reference management tool for researchers.  Users love Focosos because it saves their time and makes research easier. Today, R.C. is on hand to share some information about the entrepreneurial community in Hartford.  When he’s not managing his startup, R.C. manages his blog, Decoding Startups, as a way to reach-out to area entrepreneurs

There’s Never Been a Better Time to be an Entrepreneur in Hartford.

Hartford, CT. Located less than 80 miles south of Boston, and no more than 90 miles north of New York City, this capital city is literally in the crossroads of some of the world’s greatest startup activity. What most fail to see, however, is just how well this city can compete. Hartford has always been a local center for innovation – its location, in the middle of Boston and NYC has made it an attractive spot for university grads looking to launch their career someplace that’s local and affordable. According to the most recent analysis, conducted by Sperling’s Best Places, the cost of hartfordctliving in Hartford is a mere 5% higher than the U.S. average, compared to 49% in Boston, and a whopping 68% in the big apple.

In particular, the past 6 months have been especially exciting for the development of entrepreneurship in and around the city of Hartford. An influx of resources have become available, and entrepreneurs are mobilizing to get a piece of the pie and launch their startups.

I’ve been a member of the Hartford ecosystem for about 8 months, and the resources that I’ve come across were essential in helping me launch my startup in a faster, smarter, and more cost effective way. Today, I’d like to share them with you. Whether you’re an entrepreneur in the city of Hartford, or if you find yourself available for a visit, the following are key places/ programs that are great to check out.

1. LaunchScale 

In October of last year, Governor Dannel Malloy launched the state’s innovation ecosystem, called CTNEXT.  As part of this landmark program, Hartford joined Stamford, New Haven, and Eastern CT as the respective regions’ hub management center. In the nexus of Hartford’s hub is LaunchScale – as they say, “your journey begins here.”  Joining LaunchScale can offers a huge wealth of high-powered resources, such as office hours with vetted and and qualified mentors and funding of up to $5,000 for prototyping (not equity or debt-based.)

  • Perfect For: Early-stage entrepreneurs actively persuing start-up ideas or working on a venture.
  • Who to contact: Nick Bereza, LaunchScale Co-Founder (nick @ nicholasbereza.com)

2. Casual Coworking

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road.  Can be; but it doesn’t have to be.  If you’re looking for an outlet to meet with like-minded folks in a laid-back atmosphere, Hartford has just that.  A few short months ago, two Hartford-area startup enthusiasts decided that it would be more fun to work side-by-side with othet entrepreneurs, in lieu of going it alone.  The result? A partnership with the Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs that facilitates a regular meetup in the State House Square in downtown Hartford.  The meets generally attract anywhere from 8-10 people.  This group is a prime resource for those who are looking marketing or tech advice from those who have eperience in each industry (service providers looking to pitch their services usually don’t this to be a useful venue.

  • When/ Where: Every Wednesday at 1pm in the State House Square in downtown Hartford (there are outlets for plugging in your computer).
  • Who to Contact: R.C. Thornton (rcthornt @ gmail.com); Vice Chair, HYPE; and John Farrell; Co-Founder, Movid.

3. Connecticut .NET Developers’ Group

Connecticut Software Developer Startups (CTDEVSTARTUP) is a new group for software developers who are looking to get into startups.  Two seasoned software entrepreneurs themselves, SB Chatterjee & Bob Ohlheiser serve the roles of Co-Directors for the 2300+ member group. Together, they aim to inspire software devlopers to take their skillset beyond “just programming” by teaching key entrepreneurship skillsets including customer development, business planning, marketing, finance, and even the lean startup methodology.

  • An excellent resource for: Software developers looking to expand their business and product / customer validation skillset.
  • Mark Your Calendar for: Inaugural event, Monday, February 18th 2013 from 6-8pm at the Microsoft Farmington office.
  • Contact: SB Chatterjee (ctdotnet @ gmail.com)

4. UCONN Resources in Nearby Storrs, CT

In a previous post, Danny Briere shared with us his view of the startup ecosystem in Storrs, mined from his experience as one of the leaders of the Eastern Connecticut Innovation corridor.  The role that the University of Connecticut plays in the development of itsw local startup ecosystem is uconnundeniable, but what many don’t know is that the resources housed in Storrs are available to entrepreneurs across the state. If you find yourself in Hartford, you’re about a half hour’s drive from two outstanding and unique resources. The first is the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, or CCEI.  As part of their mission to serve as the resource of choice to Connecticut’s entrepreneurial business community, they regularly host an array of networking events, contests (a business plan competition, for example), and conferences.  They even play a role in sponsoring the well-known Innovation Accelerator, a program that offers free consulting (primarily in the areas of market analysis and business planning) to small business owners.

The IP Law Clinic, a division of UConn’s law school, also helps companies navigate the tough startup trail by providing students with the unique opportunity to counsel Connecticut’s innovators on an extensive range of intellectual property (patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret) and related business law issues.  The clinic provides their services free-of-charge and are able to do so as a program sponsored by the University of Connecticut School of Law.

  • Ideal For: Early-stage entrepreneurs actively developing their businesses.  Note that there is a substantial waiting period for the review of applications, and acceptance is not guaranteed.

5. Crossroads Venture Group

Crossroads Venture Group (CVG) is a statewide organization headquartered in Hartford that connects venture investors with high-growth, high-potential Connecticut startups.  CVG hosts popular monthly events, which alternate in location between Connecticut’s major cities.  Attendees at these invents include prominent startup leaders and investors.

Admission into CVG  ranges from $25 for students, to $100 for emerging entrepreneurs, to $300 for established entrepreneurs and investors.  Perks of membership include attending for free events that would otherwise cost approximately $40, being part of an elite and successful community of founders, and having close access to potential startup investors.

  • Ideal for:  Serious entrepreneurs who have started a venture that shows traction, and is prime for investment (and as such, would merit the expensive admission fee).  Entrepreneurs of all types would enjoy the events, but the most value is derived by those actively working on high-potential ventures.
  • Contact: Nell Bourgoin, Chief Programming Officer (nbourgoin @ cvg.org).  Or, you can navigate to the general contact page by clicking here.

The city of Hartford is full of resources for entrepreneurs of all stages, who are pursuing innovations across a wide array of industries.  Have you visited any of the centers listed above?  Or perhaps you’ve joined an event? How was your experience?  Sound off in the comment section below, or join us on the Whiteboard Startup Community for more discussion with other startups, investors, developers, and entrepreneurs!

About R.C. Thornton

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