Launching Startups from The Grid | CTNEXT

Scores of innovators pack into the new 6,000 sq ft Grove expansions space

Scores of innovators packed into the new Grid space…and the virtual “ribbon” was cut.

Excitement was in the air as a group of entrepreneurs, investors, State and City officials, and local supporters of startups gathered to join New Haven’s Mayor John DeStefano to launch “The Grid,” one of four Innovation Hubs commissioned as part of the State of Connecticut’s CTNext ecosystem project.

The group was united in one goal—to help entrepreneurs and growing startups succeed. The clear message of the event was that community has been a crucial ingredient in the birth of The Grid and remains central to its goal.

A Community Helping Entrepreneurs Succeed

Mayor DeStefano launched the event, and was followed by Slate Ballard, Co-Founder of The Grove, Kelly Murphy, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, and Derek Koch, Founder of Independent Software and leader of The Grid.

Each leader touched on a similar theme: innovation is a driving force in our community, not just for New Haven, but for its surrounding cities and towns, and the state as a whole. In recent years, the shift to focus on encouraging economic growth and stability through the support of startups has proven to be a success. And now, it’s time to scale up those efforts.

The Grove Expanding To The City's Temporary City Hall

The Grove Expanding To The City’s Temporary City Hall

After their brief remarks, a frame of blue LED lights came to life at the push of a button and served as a symbolic “ribbon cutting,” done in true startup style. By turning on the light, the space was officially connected to The Grid, which exists to help entrepreneurs access capital, talent, space, mentoring/education, and community to successfully and quickly launch their startup.

For organizations that are part of The Grid (BetterCEO, Catalyst Media, The Grove, Independent Software, EDC New Haven), the day was proof-positive that their efforts to build a community to help entrepreneurs had finally reached a new level.

Programs That Help Ventures Grow

If you missed Monday’s opportunity to learn about how The Grid can help you grow, here is a recap of some of the program offerings—contact each program lead or fill out The Grid’s online application to learn more:

  • Accessing Mentoring & Education - John Seiffer of CEO Boot Camp performed mini boot camps for groups of fifteen entrepreneurs at a time, helping them explore ways to bootstrap more effectively, and learn from the management practices of big companies. The Grid also features a free mentoring program to help ventures access support.
  • Finding & Training Software Developers – Krishna Sampath of Independent Software’s A100 program met with potential students and partner companies in the Grid-hosted A100 Device Lab, which features computers and mobile devices for students’ and companies’ use in testing their prototypes.
  • Building New Life Science Ventures - Usha Pillai of the BioScience Clubhouse showcased the concept of a new space in The Grid that would allow entrepreneurs in the life sciences to access lab space and develop new concepts.
  • Accessing Prototyping Capital - The EDC’s Rohit Sharma, who serves as the Growth Company Advisor for the Grid, helped companies on applications to the Innovation Voucher program, which puts up to $10,000 in capital to work for the entrepreneur for R&D efforts. When paired with the space and equipment of local partners MakeHaven (see their 3D printing capability below), this allows companies to prototype right in the area they are working.
Connecticut Ecosystem Map

Mapping Our Community on the Wall

Value-Added Sponsors

Derek Koch, the Director of the Grid, announced the Grid’s first three sponsors during the launch:

Like the rest of the community, these sponsors have been working for a number of years to see our region thrive—and as part of the Grid, they’ve committed mentoring time and even services in special cases to help startups launch and grow.

Locally brewed beer was donated by Thimble Islands Brewing Company of Branford. And in the spirit of collaboration, their newest beer, a coffee stout, is brewed with Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea (another local company based in Branford).

The Grid in the News

There were plenty of representatives of the media on hand to capture the excitement of the event. Check out their accounts of the event via the links below:

- Where We Live: Looking Into New Haven’s Innovation Ecosystem: NPR

- The Grid Lights UpNew Haven Independent

- Innovative Startups Blossom At The Grove In New Haven: New Haven Register

- Entrepreneurs Gather At New Haven Startup: FOX News

Make Haven 3D Printers

Make Haven 3D Printers

And remember, for updates about The Grid, you can like us on Facebook, and visit our site.

About Michael Romano