Why P.T. Barnum Would Have Been A Connecticut Startup’s Biggest Fan

I know little about P.T. Barnum but I do believe that, if alive today, his enterprising spirit would have been drawn to supporting the startup culture in Connecticut. I think he relished in seeing the underdog win, and had just the risk taker vibe we need (as evidenced by his bankruptcy, law suits, fails, wins, and legion of dislikers) to shake up this state.

One thing we often say around the office is, “once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur, no matter where you are.” There is no doubt that P.T. Barnum was going to do what he set out to do. His location was irrelevant. Entrepreneurs can’t stop themselves from being entrepreneurs and, to be successful, they will go anywhere they need to go to make it happen. That said, if you are an entrepreneur and Connecticut is lucky enough to have you, “we,” i.e., every person in the startup ecosystem, should be busting our stones to convince you to stay here.

There are plenty of reasons to go elsewhere. But, that’s true of any place. Finding compelling reasons to start something in Connecticut requires all of us to dig in and find the little nuggets of positivity and progress that motivate us to stick around.

I think that’s what The Whiteboard Startup Roadshow effort is all about. It’s a reconn mission to raise visibility. That visibility of who’s here and what’s happening in our backyards will feed more progress — from momentum to tangible success for our startups.

The Whiteboard is currently “touring” (virtually for now) Bridgeport and Fairfield and we are partnering with B:Hive Bridgeport for our live event on 7/29, “Meet the Founders!” Each month that we set up camp in a new place, I’m always curious about what interesting ingredients well find.

Join us on 7/29 at the B:Hive and you'll get to meet Marcella Kovac and Becca Bryan -- both queen bees of Bananaland and Whisk + Brush (and the B:Hive), respectfully.

Join us on 7/29 at the B:Hive and you’ll get to meet Marcella Kovac and Becca Bryan — both queen bees of Bananaland and Whisk + Brush (and the B:Hive), respectfully.

What I’ve discovered so far in Bridgeport is the following . . .

We’ve been told that there are 400+ startups in the Bridgeport area — wow! Is that really true? We’ll do more research and report back.

The variety in this area is endless from the creatives, foodies and social entrepreneurs at the B:Hive to the second stage, industrial and tech startups at Bridgeport Innovation Center, Bridgeport Trade and Tech Center, CTech incubator at the University of Bridgeport, and FAME – Fairfield University Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise.

Eryn Bingle of Congressman Jim Himes’ office gave us a head’s up on BGreen Bridgeport, 50-acre Eco-Industrial park in the making. Keep an eye on this one.

The old American Fabrics building is now home to 30 artists, contributing to the growing creative vibe of the city.

Did you know that the 8-hour work day started in Bridgeport? It was proposed by striking workers in 1915 and soon took hold across the Northeast.

Bridgeport is known as Park City because it has 27 parks.

Ultimately, Bridgeport is an awesome city. Have you spent time there? It’s gritty, funky, fun and it’s the largest city in Connecticut. If you only associate Bridgeport with crime and problems, you’re missing out.

I’m sure we’ll learn more. The reocnn mission will continue as we learn more about Fairfield and the surrounding areas.

I’m really excited about our event on 7/29 because the focus is to rally as many early stage startups as possible to help them move something forward — a new product, a website launch, a new market, or anything that allow us to help them move to the next stage of success. If you know of startups in the Bridgeport-Fairfield area that would benefit from being a part of the event, contact me right away (suzi[at]indie-soft[dot]com).

And, if there is something cool about Bridgeport-Fairfield area that you want others to know, please share!

I’m pretty sure P.T. Barnum would jump on the Startup Roadshow train if he were around. And, if he did, I can only imagine the show he’d put on to shine the spotlight on Connecticut!

About Suzi Craig

Suzi Craig
Suzi Craig is Director of Community Development for Independent Software (www.indie-soft.com) and is leading the 2014 Startup Roadshow effort for The Whiteboard. She brings Connecticut entrepreneurs closer to each other and available startup resources, and to the compelling reasons for starting and growing a business in the state.

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