Lessons Learned: Week One

Always welcome your guests with kindness: The kindness of many small business owners in Connecticut helped us create our ‘Welcome to Connecticut’ gift boxes. All of these items were donated by the local business owners, and each item helped the startups make Connecticut feel like home. Artists, craftsmen, and chefs donated their talents selflessly to welcome our new cohort, and this gesture of kindness represents the type of community the state of Connecticut is.

Due Diligence is Important: It is important to look beyond the powerpoint presentation, and a website, when evaluating a startup’s capabilities. This idea holds true to many things and has been a source of laughter during our first week. A few of our startups have moved into a house for the duration of the program, fondly referred to as ‘The Startup House’ or the ‘Dream House’, and online it was described as a luxury-ready house. This description could not have been further from the truth, as the group has had its fair share of difficulties. What’s wonderful is that our startups have positive attitudes and are making the best of their fixer-upper. We’re pretty sure we have an idea for a new reality television show as we listen to their struggles – a mixture of Fixer Upper, Big Brother and Shark Tank. We might be on to the next big show!

Prepare, prepare and prepare: We used our first week to prepare our startups to be partner ready, and we’re proud to say that our startups have prepared, and then prepared more. Over the last week, we keep hearing our new favorite quote: “We’re so glad that we went through this process before meeting the insurance partners!” Thank you to our training team for their many hours and patience – without their dedication, we would not be this prepared for Week 2.

New ideas and fresh talent can help all businesses: Last Wednesday evening after an especially busy day, we introduced our startups to their interns. These interns will be part of their teams for the next few months, and our startups were excited to meet them. No matter how fresh and new your business is, a new perspective from new talent can always lead to great results. We’re excited to see the fresh look these incoming interns have on some brilliants ideas. The group of students from UConn and the University of Hartford are energetic and ready to hit the ground running.

Perspective is Everything: As our startups joined us from all over the world (South Africa, Australia, Israel, Switzerland, and Canada) they were especially excited about the cold weather and snow. As Hartford locals, we sometimes grow tired from the cold and snow, but their fresh perspective on seeing snow made us remember when we enjoyed snow days! It was great to see their smiling, excited faces when they saw snow scattered throughout the city, especially after we gave them warm beanies with our logo. It’s always good to be prepared for the impending cold weather! Later in the week, we took the startups to the Hartford Wolfpack hockey game and for many, this was their first time seeing an ice hockey game. For those who have seen ice hockey teams, whether college level or professional, we sometimes take for granted how exciting new experiences can be. A new perspective on everything, whether new experiences or new ideas, can be refreshing.

Business Models are meant to evolve: As you are shifting focus or entering new markets, spending some time on a well-defined business model canvas can provide clarity and direction when we would like to concur the world seems a bit overwhelming.

So grateful for our wonderful cohort and excited to see what next week brings.