Hartford is solidifying its reputation as a mecca for social enterprise startups. reSET, a non-profit business support organization based in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood, has accepted 16 Connecticut-based startups into its 2021 Impact Accelerator. reSET is the only accelerator in Hartford that prioritizes identifying and measuring impact alongside profit. The 2021 cohort will have three intensive months to work together to accelerate individual business growth through peer feedback, mentorship, and one-on-one guidance from reSET.
The program will culminate in the Venture Showcase when the entrepreneurs will share their updated business plans and vision for growth in front of an audience of investors, collaborators, mentors, and more. Accepted participants are given access to reSET’s coworking space located in Parkville to be used as a place of business during the program.
It all gets underway this month, with an opening session featuring the 16 companies in the cohort on Wednesday, January 13 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the 2021 Impact Accelerator Kick-Off Party via Zoom. Each startup gives a one-minute pitch highlighting their plan for growth and impact. Mayor Luke Bronin will be welcoming the entrepreneurs as they build their companies in Connecticut’s capital.
reSET’s Accelerator has graduated 129 businesses to date and participants have generated over $11 million dollars in revenue and supported more than 300 jobs. The program focuses on customer acquisition, venture capital investment, and nationwide sales and recognition. In addition, social enterprises impact the city of Hartford in various ways including creating opportunity for employment, solving a social or environmental challenge, building community wealth, and giving back through philanthropy or volunteerism.
“The silver lining during COVID-19 is that we have also seen amazing innovations across industries. We had a resounding number of qualified applicants to this year’s Impact Accelerator and the accepted cohort really wowed us. All of the companies that come through reSET are looking to make a real impact in their communities through business,” said reSET Executive Director Sarah Bodley.
“The past year has proven how times of crisis can bring about needed innovations and, in this case, new ways of doing business,” she added. “I think there is a heightened sense of motivation to create the world we all want to leave behind for our kids and grandkids, and for entrepreneurs that’s through more sustainable business.”
This year’s companies address a wide range of issues including local economy building, sustainable transportation, sustainable agriculture, and accessible wellness services. The full list of accepted companies includes:
- Growler Power turns a standard growler into a portable kegerator dispensing your choice of beer (or even cider, cocktail, cold brew, etc.). Elevate your drinking experience while supporting local beverage producers.
- Curated CT makes buying local simple by partnering with the small business community to offer Connecticut’s locally sourced monthly box featuring new and familiar provisions. Learn more in our IDH interview.
- NorthEnd Rose is a therapeutic scent company offering natural, eco-friendly products that use scent to reduce mental fatigue and promote mental wellness by triggering “feel good” memories and emotions.
- Basic Goods is a retail platform that helps to connect all consumers to the best clean, inclusive, and sustainable goods for self and home.
- NoBrainer Foods provides nutritious and affordable ready-to-serve meal boxes through centralized kitchens and fully automated cooking processes. As a social enterprise, our mission is to improve food security, reduce carbon footprint, and empower hundreds of local communities.
- Giverrang strengthens local economies by building merchant loyalty programs for cities, regions, and downtowns to excite local spending, increase foot traffic, and generate new customers for small businesses.
- Electra Technologies is Greater Hartford’s only environmentally minded, zero-emission, ride and livery service that is green and clean—healthy for the planet and your person. Electra is operated through the ELECTRA App, which is now available on all iOs platforms.
- Simply Hadassah aims to be a leading online boutique/resale store, serving the entire family. It not only provides quality-affordable unique clothing and accessories but 40% of net sales support survivors of sex trafficking; to aid in their transition from survivor to overcomer.
- The Writery Ink offers publishing services, a bookstore that features local authors, and an art gallery and gift shop that showcase the work of local artists and artisans. The company’s goal is to provide opportunities for the other voices to be heard.
- Salute for Style provides wardrobes and workshops for career success by closing the information and confidence gap for our women heroes: active duty military, veteran, military families, women in defense, public servants, healthcare/medical personnel, and first responders.
- Agrivolution is establishing a community-owned distributed farm and energy enterprise that generates year-round fresh foods and sustainable energy through indoor farming and microgrid technologies in every city and town to create a resilient community.
- The Movement & Wellness Center is a sustainable space that provides equitable access to Spectrum in Motion’s dance company, their dance education programs, and also a variety of other positive wellness services and experiences provided by individuals and organizations invested in making wellness opportunities accessible to the Hartford community.
- Youth Business Initiative is an organization that primarily serves urban youth from the ages of 15-24 by providing the fundamental principles of business management to encourage entrepreneurship and career-building with hands-on experience.
- Nourishing Habits with Stef provides support to Women and Queer BIPOC to nourish their bodies and heal from burnout. The company offers creative practices to cultivate play, pleasure, self-love, and empowerment within the body through 1:1 support, guided journal prompts, workshops, and more.
- Samad Gardens Initiative is an urban garden education enterprise that offers virtual courses and produce to our communities in the inner-city. Our goal is to raise a new generation of urban gardeners who grow their own food using our resources and the resources available to them.
- The Key Bookstore is an interactive online bookstore curated for the pillars of Afrocentricity, spirituality environmentalism, and entrepreneurship. The Key cultivates connection with respect to the mission, “Divine liberation one page at a time” through online activities and community engagement.
Onyeka Obiocha, Managing Director at Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale University and Partner at Breakfast Lunch & Dinner, will be facilitating this year’s Accelerator. This year reSET formed an inaugural Impact Accelerator Advisory Board, who bring additional expertise and connections to the cohort. The 2021 Advisory Board members are:
- Janet Harris, Small Business Consultant
- Alan Mattamana, Fairview Capital
- Dorothy Adams, Capital for Change
- Ramon Peralta, Peralta Design
- Steven Taylor, Berkshire Bank
- Aaron Bohigian, Webster Bank
reSET social entrepreneurs are addressing challenges in their communities with market-based principles, such as Blue Earth Compost, a composting company serving Greater Hartford, or Legacy Lineage, an online educational program for youth remote learning. “It is very safe to say that without the education and connections through the mentor network at reSET, Engagement Solutions would not be at the stage it is today. We will be forever grateful for the guidance we received,” said Shay Cantner of Engagement Solutions.