Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 3)

Perfect Pitch: Attracting Venture Capital

CTI_Headshot-circle-mask-mattMatthew McCooe
Chief Executive Officer

Connecticut’s recently launched $5 million global pitch competition for fintech and digital health companies, VentureClash, has drawn an incredible response from companies globally. So I thought it would be an opportune time to take another look at what makes a pitch attractive to investors.

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$5 Million in Awards for Promising Fintech and Digital Health Companies from Across the Globe

CTI_Headshot-circle-mask-mattMatthew McCooe
Chief Executive Officer

If you keep up with Connecticut business news, you may have heard that Connecticut Innovations, a leading provider of financing for early-stage companies, recently launched a $5 million global venture challenge. Pretty exciting stuff! But you may wonder why we created such an ambitious competition, and what we hope will come from our investment. Applications for VentureClash opened April 28 to early-stage fintech and digital health companies worldwide, so it’s a good time to share our vision, and the three tenets driving our strategy. Continue reading

A 30-Year Veteran Investor On the Mistake He Wishes You’d Stop Making, and Why He Prefers Younger Entrepreneurs

CTI_Headshot-circle-mask-russ

Russell Tweeddale
Former Managing Director, Investments

 

 

 

Doug-Roth-Headshot

Douglas Roth Director, Investments

Russell “Russ” Tweeddale, an engineer, Marine, and investor with Connecticut Innovations for more than three decades, sat down this week to talk shop with Douglas Roth, CI’s director of investments. Over the course of their hour-long chat, during which they covered everything from fuel cells to the importance of strong advisory boards, Russ imparted some hard-won pearls of wisdom he gained while investing more than $75 million in numerous Connecticut companies. Russ’s notable successes include many of today’s industry leaders, such as Affomix, AxioMx, Proton Energy Systems, CuraGen Corporation, Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Bio-Plexus, International Telecommunication Data Systems, Open Solutions, and Ipsogen.

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The Easiest Way to Tell If Your Website Is Effective

Brandon Gearing
Marketing Coordinator
Connecticut Innovations

Aside from the product or service that you’re offering, there is perhaps nothing more important to your business than its website. It’s the place where potential customers can find out exactly what you do, how you do it, and how they can get in touch with you to take advantage of your offerings.

These days, there’s a lot of noise made about things like search engine optimization (SEO), social media and content marketing, and rightly so. You need to drive people to your website, and these strategies help.Typing

But once they get there, what do they see? No, I’m not talking about the design (although that’s important, too). I’m talking about the copy. What does your website say? How does it address the problems of the person who is visiting your site?

After all, that’s why someone is going to pay you money for your product or service, right? You have something to offer that will fix one (or many) of their problems. Your web copy should reflect that. What’s in it for the customer?

This means using a lot more “you” (the customer) and a lot less “we” (your business). Amy Hourigan, vice president of marketing and communications at Connecticut Innovations, offers advice on this topic here, and cites some particularly useful examples.

A great way to find out how much your web copy focuses on “we” instead of “you” is by using the “we we calculator.” Try it out. You might be surprised at the results.

Once you do, let us know in the poll below. My guess is that the majority of websites out there focus too much on “we” and not enough on “you.” It’s a common mistake, but it’s one that can be easily fixed!


SBIR award winners gather in Middletown

Brandon Gearing
Marketing Coordinator
Connecticut Innovations

Some of the state’s most innovative minds met on Friday, November 1, 2013 to honor the fiscal-year 2012 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) winners at the Inn at Middletown.

Deb Santy, Director of Small Business Innovation at Connecticut Innovations

Despite the dreary weather, things looked bright inside the inn as Deb Santy, Director of the Small Business Innovation program at Connecticut Innovations, highlighted some
of the year’s statistics.

In FY 2012, Connecticut’s 37 SBIR companies won 82 federal awards totaling $23 million. 62 of the awards were Phase Is, while the other 20 were Phase IIs. But what does that really mean?

The goal of the federal SBIR and STTR programs is commercialization. The awards that are  won each year provide small businesses with the money needed to perform research and development necessary to achieve that goal.

The Connecticut Innovations SBI team polled 160 companies that have received awards in the last 10 years. Companies that have already commercialized their technologies reported over $17 million in revenue during FY 2012. When you consider the $23 million won in federal grants, a confirmed $40 million that went into Connecticut as a result of the SBIR/STTR Award program in FY 2012 is a great return.

Connecticut Innovations was also able to give 39 awards totaling $1.1 million through the SBIR Acceleration and Commercialization Program in FY 2012. Of those, 37 were Phase I awards, and two were Phase II awards.

The awards resulted in $9.1 million leveraged by state companies to work towards that ultimate goal of commercialization.

Other speakers at the breakfast included Claire Leonardi, CEO of Connecticut Innovations and Joanne Goodnight, Director of Project Development and Analysis at The Jackson Laboratory, and former program director for National Institute of Health SBIR.

Thank you to all of our attendees, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Amp Up Your Cybersecurity Measures!

Pamela Hartley
Senior Marketing Manager
Connecticut Innovations

A cybersecurity summit on November 14 will help you do just that! It is tailored for business owners committed to understanding cybersecurity risks and their implications for business sustainability.

We wanted to give you a heads up about this event – titled “CT Business Security Summit” – which will be held next week at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. The all-day event will feature presentations by experts who will share insights about and solutions for current cybersecurity risks.

Learn about:

  • How cybersecurity threats relate to your business
  • How to protect your private data
  • How to use your computers and communication devices to run your business securely
  • How to create a cyber-attack incident response and data breach plan
  • And more…

Speakers include the president of OutSecure Inc. (an information security consulting firm), Connecticut’s assistant attorney general and information security thought leaders.

For more information, including a detailed agenda, visit http://www.outsecure.com/ct-business-security-summit/.

CI Ranks High on PitchBook Lists

Pamela Hartley
Senior Marketing Manager
Connecticut Innovations

Connecticut Innovations’ hard work in supporting seed- and early-stage ventures was recognized last week in a report published by PitchBook, the leading research firm for private equity and venture capital.That organization’s “Valuations & Trends” report ranked CI the seventh most active investor nationally in seed/angel deals and the sixth most active investor in early-stage deals in the trailing twelve months (4Q 2012 through 3Q 2013).

As noted in the report, CI invested in 19 seed/angel deals and 33 early-stage deals during that time frame.

Hats off to our investment team, which has been busy evaluating investment opportunities, structuring deals and providing strategic guidance to these newest members of CI’s investment portfolio!

Want to Run a More Productive Board Meeting?

Pamela Hartley
Senior Marketing Manager
Connecticut Innovations

I snickered a bit at the title, but, honestly, this article is packed full of great pointers for entrepreneurs wishing to run more productive board meetings: “The Secret to Making Board Meetings Suck Less,” published in First Round Review and available via a recent innovation DAILY newsletter. The piece conveys insights from Jeff Bonforte, former CEO of Xobni, a company he sold to Yahoo in July 2013. Over time and after leading several board meetings, Bonforte evidently adjusted his approach to running such meetings. This article highlights not only suggestions for how to run more productive board meetings but also how to effectively engage and leverage board talent.

Connecticut Innovations’ investment team, which participates on the boards of CI portfolio companies, shares below its observations about what helps to make board meetings of young companies effective:

  • Mail your board package well in advance of the board meeting date (at least one week in advance). This ensures that board members have ample time to review and digest the contents and come to the meeting prepared. Additionally, you will not have to waste time covering all of the details in the package at the meeting, because the board will have reviewed them already; you can focus instead on having the board assist with your most pressing issues.
  • Make it clear in your package what you will be seeking the board’s input on at the meeting.
  • Don’t request a vote on anything the board has not had an opportunity to review in advance.
  • Strive to make your board meetings less about operational issues and reporting and more about strategy issues. This becomes more and more important as your company matures. You should also evolve and fine-tune how you display and
    present information (e.g., regarding revenues, markets, etc.).
  • Stay on topic.
  • Encourage participation.

We hope you find these insights to be useful.

Additive Manufacturing 101

Pamela Hartley
Senior Marketing Manager
Connecticut Innovations

Having never heard the term “additive manufacturing” before, I was intrigued to learn more. I attended an information session on this topic that Connecticut Innovations helped to facilitate on September 5 at ACT Group in Cromwell.

Well, come to find out, there’s lots of buzz building around additive manufacturing. According to Industry Week, additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, can help us build things we could not build before; Forbes says it will revive manufacturing; and Harvard Business Review says it will “change the world.”

Our host, a 3D printing equipment and services company, explained how additive manufacturing works and how it can offer solutions to Connecticut businesses.

Additive manufacturing is quite different from traditional manufacturing. The latter involves starting with a material and cutting, drilling or otherwise shaping the material into the desired component or end product. It’s considered a “subtractive” process, as material is removed during manufacturing and waste material is generated. The former involves building and shaping objects through sequential layering, where extremely thin layers, measuring only about 100 micrometers in thickness, are added one layer at a
time, in accordance with digital information from a CAD model – in many cases generated from images from a 3D scanner.

Here’s how additive manufacturing can help businesses. It

  • Minimizes waste material.
  • Enhances design freedom.
  • Significantly shortens design cycles.
  • Enables easy testing of different manufacturing materials, such as plastics, metals and polymers.
  • Facilitates product customization.
  • Can save on manufacturing-associated labor costs, because manufacturing with this method can take place unmanned.
  • Facilitates side-by-side comparisons of design concepts, because product models are easy to produce.

We were able to view and handle a wide assortment of models, components and products manufactured using this method: a model sneaker (with colors, and all), a tiny printed metal gear designed for installation in a Rolex watch, a human skull implant and even a heart model.

As these examples suggest, additive manufacturing can be, and is being, successfully used across diverse industries – medical, industrial, garment, education and entertainment. It is being used to produce footwear, engine parts, tools, dental braces, jewelry and more. Because it offers users significant time and cost savings (for example, enabling one of ACT Group’s customers to make 280% more of its product in the same period of time with significantly less labor and a reduction in waste from 80% to zero), it’s no wonder that the method is taking hold and drawing attention!

If you missed this session and would like to learn more, please contact CI’s Roberta Rossi at roberta.rossi@ctinnovations.com or (860) 257-2338.

Additionally, you may wish to review these websites: 3D Printer World, DimensionNext and 3D Printing Industry.

Aspiring Entrepreneurs, This Is Your Chance to Shine!

Pamela Hartley
S
enior Marketing Manager
Connecticut Innovations

Have a great idea for a startup and want feedback? Need a team? Want the challenge of brainstorming, collaborating and competing against other entrepreneurial teams over a weekend? Have a skill – such as software development, product management, graphic design or marketing – that could benefit a startup team? Want to gain visibility before successful entrepreneurs and community leaders? This is your chance!

Startup Weekend Hartford-Ottawa will take place October 18-20 in Hartford, Connecticut, at the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center. The event, which is open to participants wishing to launch a new business (in any industry) or be part of a startup team, is organized jointly by MetroHartford Alliance and HYPE, its young professionals organization. Participants will pitch their ideas, form teams, create business models, code and design, seek market validation and present to a team of judges. To keep things interesting, talent from Ottowa, Canada, will also be included in the mix of participants this year, thanks to cutting-edge communications technology that will link the Connecticut event site with the Canadian site.

How did last year’s teams fare, you might ask? A few of the teams went on to receive assistance from the CTNEXT innovation ecosystem initiative, in which Connecticut Innovations plays a key role, and have since formed companies. You can check out the websites of two of those companies, Movid and The Farmer’s Garden.

For more information or to register, visit http://hartford.startupweekend.org/.

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