Do you have a great idea for a business and think you’ll have to move to New York or L.A. to stand a chance of “making it?” Well, we’ve got some great news for Connecticut startups – one of the best places to start your small business is right here in the Constitution State. In 2016, Business Insider ranked Connecticut #12 in their list of best states to start a business, and that’s ahead of BOTH New York and California who clocked in at #27 and #28, respectively. The article also explains that CT boasts the third highest per-capita GDP, and the fourth-best business survival rate in the country—so you’re chances of making it here are astonishingly high.
But whether you live in downtown New Haven or on a farm in Cornwall, one of the challenges of starting a new business is where to find what you need to get your venture off the ground. At LLD, we understand these challenges and have put together a list of some of the best resources for startups in Connecticut.
The first stop for any startup or new business should be their local office of The Small Business Administration (SBA), a federal government agency formed in 1953 with the express purpose of providing support to small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing loans, counseling, and delivery of 23% of governmental contracts to small and emerging businesses. The Connecticut office is located in Hartford, and offers free counseling, workshops and information, as well as training sessions throughout the state. Many trainings are free or have a nominal fee. If you need direction from the pros, the SBA can’t be beat.
280 Trumbull St., Second Floor
Hartford, CT 06103
Similar to the SBA, but entirely focused on Connecticut businesses, the CSBDC provides free counseling services to help both new and existing small businesses in Connecticut get started and expand. The organization is funded through a cooperative agreement with the SBA, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, and the University of Connecticut— and has a 35 year history of assisting emerging entrepreneurs. According to their website, the CSBDC’s mission is to serve “everyone who wants to create and build their own strong small business,” including entrepreneurs, startup businesses, existing businesses, high-tech firms, expanding businesses, youth entrepreneurs, and veteran, woman, and minority entrepreneurs.
2100 Hillside Road
Storrs, CT 06269
CTNEXT is a subsidiary of VC funding company Connecticut Innovations who, according to their website, provide “a support system that steps in with customized help right when you need it.” They are membership organization of over 1,500 members that is free to join, and offers mentoring, ongoing events, and access to their service provider and resource directories. Through their Entrepreneur Innovation Awards, they also offer funding of up to $10,000 to Connecticut’s most promising startups.
865 Brook Street
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
Not all startups aspire to be profit-generating enterprises, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least one resource for small businesses with missions to do good in their communities and in the world. The Connecticut Nonprofit Alliance’s stated mission is to “advocate excellence in community-based nonprofits through advocacy and capacity building.” To that end, the organization has an extensive and diverse offering of low-cost training seminars for nonprofit leadership and staff, a vendor program that connects organizations with vendors who have expertise in working with nonprofits, a suite of resources for new nonprofits, and even a program that matches nonprofits with disabled employees. If you are a nonprofit in Connecticut, this is an organization you must check out.
75 Charter Oak Avenue, Suite 1-100
Hartford, CT 06106
Located in downtown Stamford, the SIC offers classes, events and workspace to small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and innovators. Their free advisory sessions offer professional guidance for your startup from CEOs, executives and consultants, and their extensive offering of events include a wide range of topics such as Hack Nights, Morning Mingles, business plan workshops, and seminars on cybersecurity and digital marketing.
175 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT 06901
If you’re starting a new business and haven’t yet hooked into the Meetup community, now is the time to do so. Startup Grind has partnered with Google for Entrepreneurs to bring over 200 monthly events in 85 countries worldwide to provide “networking opportunities with amazing startups and local entrepreneurs, and give entrepreneurs inspiration for the startup journey ahead.” While the New Haven event calendar is somewhat erratic, their range of topics and guest speakers are impressive. Some recent guests have included: former Virgin Mobile CEO Peter Boyd, Refinery29 Founder Christene Barberich, and VC Michael Duda of Bullish. Many of their events do have a nominal admission fee, usually about $10-15 per event. Check out Startup Grind New Haven’s current schedule of events.
Finally, it bears mentioning that in 2017, US News & World Report listed Connecticut as the third-best state in the nation for Internet access, so you can bet that having a solid online presence will be a key factor in the success of your new business. So, for our last resource, LLD would like to shamelessly invite you to check out what we can offer your startup.
Love Local Design is a full-service web design and development studio dedicated to supporting small businesses, startups and local organizations, and have a great track record of doing so. Just some of the Connecticut startups we’re proud to have had as clients are Fitscript, Evolux, 360Alumni, and RecoveryPad. Because we understand that your small business needs may call for more than just a website, we provide an array of services to support your online presence. Just some of the services we provide include: web design and development, graphic design, digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) services, product development, and technical assistance. Contact us and let us know what we can do to help get your startup or small business off and running.