Connecticut entrepreneur Victoria Parisi embraced entrepreneurship at a young age and has spent the last few years perfecting her startup pitching skills. With her new startup, Vitches, she’s using her experience to provide services to local early-stage startups that need help learning to pitch or creating and refining their pitch decks.
As Program Manager at Girls For Technology, she’s also able to leverage her skills to help inspire youth and connect them with entrepreneurial and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities.
Victoria recently shared her experience with Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price.
NAN PRICE: How did you develop the business concept for Vitches?
VICTORIA PARISI: I noticed a skills gap. I was seeing that people often needed to build pitch decks but didn’t know what they should include, what venture capitalists are looking for, and how to tailor their pitch toward different audiences.
Vitches helps build high-end pitch decks for early-stage startups. The target market is someone in the early phases looking for pre-seed funding or someone who’s going to present at an event like a reSET pitching competition.
NAN: How has your experience helped prepare you to provide these services?
VICTORIA: The entrepreneurial bug hit me when I was a teenager attending the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy in Hartford. We were required to take an entrepreneurship class through the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). So, at the age of 16, I was learning to build a pitch deck and write a business plan. That’s when I launched my first company, Skilled Sitters.
I originally wanted to be a pharmacist, which is why I was at that school. So, I was nervous about taking the entrepreneurship class—until I found out there was a competition. I’m very competitive in nature, so I was very motivated by the competition.
I placed second in New England at a pitching competition at Babson College. I went on to pitch to Care.com, Boston venture firms, and several angel investors and raised a seed round for Skilled Sitters. When I was 17, the Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft interviewed me about that startup experience.
So, at an early age I was pitching my business assumption and becoming an entrepreneur. And then I studied entrepreneurship at Suffolk University.
NAN: Did you have mentors guiding you along the way?
VICTORIA: Yes. While I was at Suffolk, I became very close with the Center For Entrepreneurship Program Director, who took me under his wing and hired me as a Program Supervisor while I was still in school—I was the first person without a degree to do that job.
I was Program Supervisor for about two years and was able to watch students create ventures and business assumptions. We learned some things in class, but often the classes wouldn’t go into enough depth or provide feedback about what a pitch deck should look like. That’s where I first noticed a skills gap.
While I was at the Center, I was also able to play a role in building out the infrastructure. By the time I had left, we had raised $1.8 million in funding. That experience helped me become immersed in the entrepreneurial culture of Boston.
NAN: Let’s talk about your immersion in the entrepreneurial culture here in Hartford.
VICTORIA: I’m very connected to the Hartford community since I went to high school here. In terms of getting to know the startup community, I’ve been trying to get to networking events and reach out to more people.
I met with Sara Bodley, Managing Director at reSET to connect with startups going through their Impact Accelerator and learn more about their social enterprise vision because, ideally, I would like to integrate that mission into my business.
Another great connection I made was with Ellen Last, Community Organizer at Tech Talent Connecticut. She’s helped connect me to a lot of different people in the area, including Sabrina Tucker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Girls For Technology. One of the reasons I’m working with them is because they’re social impact driven.
NAN: Tell us more about your involvement with Girls For Technology.
VICTORIA: I’m a huge advocate for entrepreneurship, especially through STEM education. I feel like it creates opportunities for all kinds of youth, particularly those in the inner city school system. Entrepreneurship and STEM skills can help someone get a job or create their own business.
In this role, I can teach girls ages 16 through 24 presentation skills and things like that. We’re trying to help students get jobs in the future by closing that skills gap.
I really want to bring more entrepreneurship to Hartford, and I’m hoping this role and my work with Vitches will help.
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