Marlene Kurban, Founder of Kurban Consulting, spoke to Innovation Destination Hartford about her startup experience and her involvement in the Women’s Business Roundtable at the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: How has your background helped shape you as an entrepreneur?
MARLENE KURBAN: Working for many years in the nonprofit sector eventually led me to the path of being an entrepreneur. As a former executive director and manager of various programs, I wore many hats and needed to learn how to write grants and proposals, produce marketing materials, and advertise on a shoestring. I received a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling in 1989, but went back to school in 2004 to earn a MBA in Healthcare from the University of Hartford, mainly to sharpen my business skills.
IDH: When and why did you start the company?
MK: I started Kurban Consulting in 2015 because I started getting requests from different companies to write grants, web content, and white papers. As my client base began to expand, I developed and launched a website, joined networking groups, and signed up for the Business Women’s Roundtable at the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center.
IDH: What types of services do you offer?
MK: Currently I offer a range of services to nonprofits and for-profit companies including writing grants, articles, blogs, web content, newsletters, and white papers. I also help companies identify and evaluate new business opportunities, plan social media campaigns, create marketing collateral, and moderate webinars.
IDH: What makes your services unique?
MK: I would say my services are especially relevant to nonprofit human services organizations because I understand healthcare issues, have worked with the state agencies that issue RFPs, and have extensive grant-writing experience. I’m familiar with the challenges many nonprofits face when it comes to staffing and resources, and do my best to meet my client companies’ needs. I’ve been in their shoes; I have a clinical and management background and can work equally well with the leadership team as well as the front-line staff.
IDH: What’s the biggest challenge your company has faced as a startup?
MK: The biggest challenge I’ve faced as a startup is devoting the time to developing my own website content and portfolio. Since I ghost write so much for other organizations, I seldom have a byline for material that I can use for my own advertising purposes. This is something I will work on this year.
IDH: If you could go back and change one thing about the startup journey, what would it be?
MK: If I could go back and change one thing about the startup journey, it would have been to sign up for the Business Women’s Roundtable sooner so I could have been more accurate about pricing right from the start.
IDH: What do you most enjoy about participating in the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center Women’s Roundtable?
MK: The Business Women’s Roundtable has been an excellent venue to network with other small business owners, learn more about marketing, and share ideas with other resourceful women. I have enjoyed learning from others as well as mentoring other business owners outside of the group.
IDH: What’s the best thing about being a business owner in Hartford area?
MK: The best thing about working in the Greater Hartford region is the number of organizations that can use my services; the opportunities to connect with Chambers of Commerce, other business, and networking groups; and the educational events offered at local colleges and universities.
IDH: Any advice to other women business owners?
MK: Take advantage of networking opportunities and be a resource to others. We can all help each other.
Find out more about entrepreneurial women participating in the Women’s Business Roundtable through the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center: