I’ve spent the last 10 years starting up businesses in the niche affordable housing industry. My focus was countrywide and required a lot of travel to clients and industry events. In fact, my clients were more likely to be in Texas, South Dakota, or North Carolina than in New England.
What drew me and kept me in the industry was the mission of providing housing to low-income households, and the people drawn to that mission. And it was exciting trying to figure out what new products and services would help them accomplish their mission.
When it was time for a career change, though, I wanted to stay and work in my home state, Connecticut. Through friends and associates, and without intent, I found myself advising a couple of startups focused on solving social issues. I wasn’t familiar with the startup scene in the Hartford area, but I thought: Can I use what I’ve learned during my career to help local startups?
Hartford - a vibrant startup culture
Having grown up and lived my entire life in the Hartford area, I have always been amazed at the intelligence, business savvy, and spirit of many fellow Nutmeggers. So, it has been a pleasant surprise to see a vibrant startup culture and developing ecosystem in the Hartford area.
I’ve gotten to know the reSET community, particularly through the recent kickoff of their Impact Accelerator program (startups from other parts of the country are actually coming to Connecticut!). I’ve become familiar with the many services provided by CTNext, which is the advisory arm of Connecticut Innovations, and the exciting new development of the four Innovation Places in Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Thames area. These are some of Connecticut’s organizations and initiatives helping startups gain access to a developing ecosystem of working spaces, mentors, advisors, researchers, and potential investors.
Connecticut encourages and supports startups
I’ve also attended events or made connections with members of the MetroHartford Alliance, Upward Hartford, BioCT (formerly CURE), Nerac Inc., the University of Connecticut Technology Incubator Program (TIP), and others. From each of these experiences, I have gained an understanding of just how many organizations in Connecticut are encouraging and supporting startups through the early stages of their businesses—and how many former and current entrepreneurs are volunteering their time to help others succeed. (Read: Entrepreneur at Heart Creates Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Connecticut.)
I’ll never stop working within the affordable housing industry, because housing is such a critical factor in the lives of millions of low-income households. However, my current focus is on how, in my own small way, I can contribute to the growth of the Hartford economy. I believe the growth of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greater Hartford is one key to the region’s economic growth, and I look forward to engaging and collaborating with the key members of this community.
About the Author
David Sagers is Principal at Sagers & Associates, which provides strategic planning, operational improvement, and technology strategy to drive its clients’ organizational transformation. David has built several technology services and products and led multiple technology-based businesses.