How to be mindful of human resources when you’re starting out

Amy HouriganAmy Hourigan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not strategies.”

So said business exec and author Lawrence Bossidy—yes, the Lawrence Bossidy of GE and AlliedSignal fame. It’s important to remember, because when you’re focused on product or pricing or acquiring customers or pivoting, it’s your employees who will help you develop that product or justify that price or hook those customers—or even go back to the drawing board with you after your potential customers tell you that, hey, what we really want is X, not A.

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How to Nail Your Next Interview with the Media

Kelsea Michael


Kelsea Michael
Kelsea Michael Public Relations


For many, the thought of talking to the media can be nerve racking. But an interview doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether you have a national primetime TV appearance or a discussion with your hometown paper, there are some standard tips and tricks to follow that can not only ease your nerves, but also ensure success.

Whenever I’m training clients, I always make sure they adhere to my one and only rule for media interviews.  Sure, I have lots of advice, but only one rule, and that is to communicate with honesty, integrity and transparency. It’s what I call my deal breaker, so if you take nothing else away from this, please remember the rule when you do your next media interview. Many big news scandals could have been prevented if the key players communicated with honesty, integrity and transparency. Consider the recent scandal involving NBC’s Brian Williams, which was solely about misrepresenting the facts. Consider also the now-tarnished reputation of Alex Rodriguez. His history of lying to reporters about steroid use has cost him his credibility and has all but destroyed his personal brand.

With that in mind, here are the rest of my top tips for working with the media.

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VET Your Investor: Three Reasons Why the Source of Your Funding Matters



Douglas Roth
Director, Investments
Connecticut Innovations

Capital is the lifeblood of any startup. Because of this, too many entrepreneurs blindly charge forward raising money without understanding the importance of the process. Raising capital is generally not a skill that most startup executives have. Why? Well, for starters, fundraising is not something an entrepreneur does every day. It’s also a distraction from the important effort of launching and operating a business. A young company needs money and generally needs it now, but many entrepreneurs fall victim to the belief that four quarters from one funding source is the same as one dollar from another. But smart entrepreneurs aren’t so cavalier about something so important! Not all money is green. The sources from which you raise capital can make all the difference between success and failure.

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How to Improve Your Investor Pitch or Sales Presentation Right Now

Brandon Gearing
Marketing Coordinator
Connecticut Innovations

No matter your industry or business model, there will come a time when you’re going to have to convince someone that what you’re doing is worth their time and/or money. You’ll need to make money by raising venture capital or angel funding, getting a grant that will help win federal dollars, or by doing it the old-fashioned way: making a sale.

I’ve sat in on and reviewed a number of presentations and pitches, and my feedback is almost always centered on the same thing: focus on benefits and not features.

You’re extremely close to your business. The features are important to you. You might sell a software for personal finance that uses a patented intelligence algorithm. Great! But anyone considering giving you money is going to want to know what that means for them. Don’t make them ask.

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Want your customer base to explode? Build an army of zombies.

Amy Hourigan


Amy Hourigan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Connecticut Innovations


Quick quiz: What’s the most effective way to get new customers?

  1. Advertising
  2. Marketing
  3. Social media
  4. Public relations

Actually, it’s a trick question. The best way to bring in new customers is to create an army of current customers who will advocate for your brand. Most of us know that people trust their friends and colleagues far more than they trust advertising, but many of us don’t know how to get those referrals. A new book by Peter Shankman, out at the end of this month, shows you how. While many of the tips in Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans (PALGRAVE MACMILLAN TRADE, 2015) seem obvious—hire nice people, for one—it’s surprisingly rare how few companies manage to do it.

The book offers a good reminder of everything you know you should be doing, but that you might be overlooking. Because hiring jerks—and committing other deadly customer service sins—could cost you business.

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CI’s Peter Longo Honored by Venture Community

David Wurzer Photo

David Wurzer
Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer
Connecticut Innovations

The Crossroads Venture Group, a leading VC professional organization in Connecticut, recently presented its annual Founders Award to Connecticut Innovations’ (CI) very own Peter Longo. The award honors an individual with a long record of serving the local venture capital community as an investor.  With Peter’s more than 20 years in the industry and numerous achievements, it’s no surprise to us that the Crossroads Venture Group has taken notice.
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Three Can’t-Miss Marketing Predictions for 2015

Amy Hourigan


Amy Hourigan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Connecticut Innovations

2014 was full of marketing buzzwords. Many have been around for a long time, and many have merit, but good or bad, you couldn’t escape them when creating your campaigns this year. I bet you realized you needed more content, more of a focus on digital (or mobile), and a greater effort on social media. You probably set out to create content that was shareable, tweetable, digestible, actionable, and most of all, measureable.

Like most industries, the landscape in marketing is always evolving. With potential customers now having access to a wealth of data at their fingertips thanks to the Internet, our focuses have shifted. We’re creating content that educates and helps move people through the sales funnel (rather than hitting them over the head with a sales message). We’re showing them that we care about their problems and want to fix them. We want to build a relationship and earn their loyalty so they’ll keep coming back and tell all their friends about us. We know that delighting our customers and potential customers means they’ll likely stay with us for years to come.

So how are we doing that? What will we marketers buzz about in 2015 (and what won’t we)? Read on.
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How an Annual Engineering Competition Teaches Valuable STEM Skills through Real-Life Applications

Amity High School students represent Connecticut in national competition



Barb Lesh
Program Associate, Small Business Innovations
Connecticut Innovations

There’s been a lot said lately about the need for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in our public schools. Leaders have realized how important it is for students to learn these skills so that they’re prepared for the modern workplace. In my (slightly biased) opinion, it’s especially important for our Connecticut students. We need to equip them with the skills they need to become the state’s next great innovators.

Enter the “Real World Design Challenge,” an annual competition among high school students across the country that teaches STEM skills in real-life applications. Connecticut Innovations supports the competition each year, and in this year’s iteration, first-time participant Amity Regional High School represented Connecticut in the national competition after beating out other Connecticut high school teams.

But what does the competition mean for STEM education, and more important, the students?

Imagine, as a 14-18 year old, getting up in front of hundreds of high-powered individuals from aerospace, agriculture and government agencies to pitch a design that you came up with. Imagine also that your design is expected to solve a real-life problem that even the pros have struggled with. That’s exactly what Amity Aviation 1 from Amity Regional High School did!
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What the Launch of BioInnovation Connecticut Means for Connecticut…and Human Health

Today marks the launch of CI’s new BioInnovation Connecticut website, the home of two important funds that we administer: The Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund (CBIF) and The Regenerative Medicine Research Fund (RMRF).

These funds are two of the many steps Connecticut has taken to become a major player in bioscience innovation. In addition to funding, the state has made strides in fostering a bioscience community through the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Network (CURE), which has hubs in New Haven and New London.

Connecticut is also a hotbed for bioscience talent. It’s no. 4 in the nation in bioscience-related patents and is anchored by two nationally-renowned research institutions in Yale and UConn. It’s also home to major multi-national bioscience companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, Purdue Pharma, Alexion Therapeutics, Protein Sciences, The Jackson Laboratory and others.

The community, talent and support system is in place, but what about critical funding? That’s where CBIF and RMRF come into play.
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Why New Haven is a Destination for Entrepreneurs and Startups

Four reasons for entrepreneurs to be excited about where the Elm City is headed



Matthew Storeygard
Senior Investment Associate
Connecticut Innovations

It’s been 11 years since I moved to New Haven from Washington, D.C. with my wife. At the time, we were making the move to further our careers. My wife was pursuing her pediatric residency and I was attending business school.

We were skeptical about the move. We never anticipated staying beyond our respective trainings. However, once we got here, we found a burgeoning small city teeming with culture, great food that has received national recognition, and young, talented people across a variety of industries.

And 11 years later, we’re still here.

People are moving back to the city. Between 2000 and 2010, New Haven experienced the highest population growth rate of any city in the Northeast, even surpassing Boston. A lot of this population growth can be attributed to the growing number of businesses making New Haven their home. It also doesn’t hurt that the city has become a desirable place to live. There are a few compelling reasons for this trend.
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