Month: June 2020

Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Kona Brand

Kona Brand creates fun Winter flannels that make you smile so that active, driven people have a reminder to live a more care-filled life. Now, living a care-filled life isn’t something people hear a lot, in fact it’s the antithesis of living a care-FREE life. When we picture a care-free life, we think of The Dude (from the movie “The Big Lebowski”), and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, at Kona Brand we care about things. We care about our jobs, our hobbies, and how we spend our time the same way we care about our friends, family and pets. So, the idea of living a care-FILLED life is to basically throw everything you are into things that make you happy. For us, that’s making fun Winter flannels that make you smile, while finding a home for every dog.

Why do we care about finding a home for every dog? Well, I grew up with rescue dogs in my house and my beautiful good boy rescue dog, Kona, was the inspiration behind Kona Brand. Sadly, only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home. Each year, approximately 1.2 million dogs are euthanized because shelters are too full and there are not enough adoptive homes. That is why we are donating a percentage of each Kona Brand sale to dog charities and hope to partner with them in the future.

Summer 2020 Intern Highlight – Alok Bhatt


April 17,2020- I received the opportunity to work as a part of the core team at the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI). And thus, began my work as the Summer Fellowship Program Management Intern– handling program management and delivery of the Summer Fellowship program featuring top ten startups selected for the 2020 cohort!   

Working closely with Jennifer (Director, CCEI) and Michelle (Lead instructor, CCEI), my role incorporates planning and operational activities ranging across handling the mentors’ engagement with our startups, compiling/ citing suitable learning resources for startups, facilitating the weekly Founder’s breakfast (informal virtual chat sessions with the startup founders/ CEOs), reviewing/ analyzing program surveys, to ensuring smooth delivery of the events and daily sessions throughout the program. I am also very grateful to Chereace and Michaela who- with their experience- have been immensely helpful in my journey with CCEI.  

Working in close coordination with startup experts in Hartford (and beyond), the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation is everything for us at the CCEI! I started consulting for startups and small businesses during my semester itself as a part of the Experiential Learning Collaborative and in my role as the Vice President of the UConn Graduate Consulting (UGC) Club. But my experience this summer with CCEI ties it all together. I am thrilled to support these new ventures bring in new products, services, and technologies to revamp the future- our future! Beyond learning from the enriching experiences of mentors about the key ingredients to create a successful venture, holding office hours and consulting for the startups regarding strategy planning and their specific projects/ issues, I have the opportunity to reach out to and get in touch with experts across a variety of domains and bring them to the common platform of CCEI. On a much more operational level, one of the most challenging and interesting experiences thus far has been how to quickly adapt and convert the program (that too a startup accelerator!) to a fully online deliverable format in a few weeks’ time.  

And, we are barely mid-way into it! Looking forward to an exciting and eventful summer.

Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Micky Chhabda

Coming from an IT Consulting background, I have benefited multiple projects with technology consulting and process reengineering and helped my employer secure various contracts from Japanese clients. Business requirement analysis, developing key metrics and technology upgrade recommendations were my areas of expertise while programming, data visualization, and data integration were some of my other responsibilities. I was very excited about the analytics aspect of my job which is why I decided to be an analyst after gaining considerable professional experience. Finding the domain where my forte of analytical skills could be applied, I recently chased an opportunity to serve as a Marketing Analyst Intern with a Startup in educational domain wherein I used analytics to strategize and lead business development activities for the company resulting in new contracts and increased profit. I have learned and implemented skills such as driving promotional campaigns, analyzing key performance indicators, market research and developing business models. I now aspire to take this exploration further with Marketing and Analytics Intertwined.

While working on programming and analytics made me technically sound, working with people from different countries made me culturally agiler, hands-on interactions with stakeholders from different levels of organization honed my interpersonal skills such as handling complex issues, technology consulting and negotiation with clients among others. The entire episode made me discover the finer nuances of team management, developing insights, problem resolution, market research and driving business development activities which I would bring to the startups this summer.

Looking for multiple opportunities and working on multiple projects was going to be a time-consuming task and I had lot of ground to cover before I transition into a business analyst role and therefore I decided to find one opportunity that will allow me to get exposure to multiple projects in multiple domains within limited time frame. In my circumstance, Verge Consulting was the best option for me.

This opportunity will help me explore broader horizons of analytics, marketing, and business planning and implementation as well as have hands-on experience on real assignments with a chance to draw conclusions and give recommendations to improve performance. I believed that this opportunity will serve as a linkage for me to have a transition from an MBA student to a Skilled Professional in the Business World.

The journey so far has been very much rewarding and has given wide exposure to consulting space through work-assignments with different startups in diverse domains. It enabled me to understand the know-how of business and get better insights into how startups work. The brainstorming engagements with CCEI Mentors, CTSBDC Consultants and Skilled Peers have helped me learn a lot so far and I am expecting more to come in the upcoming weeks. This opportunity has allowed me to visualize the impact of my gained knowledge and experience by working on competitive assignments to unwrap the answers to Why, What and How of Consulting which will prove beneficial for significant fulfillment of my career aspirations.

More conspicuously, I am looking at developing and polishing skills such as analytics, market research, business strategy and development which will serve as a foundation in my future career as business analyst. I would love to be a part of business teams to complement the technology team and deliver tangible and purposeful transformations. Delivering tangible and purposeful transformations, gathering and analyzing information, formulating and testing hypotheses, and developing and communicating recommendations, are few of the activities that I want at the core of my job. The most rewarding component is – when I excel into a full-time role, all the experiences and procured skillset with Verge Consulting Program will enable me to hit the ground running from Day 1.

Summer Fellowship 2020 Highlight: Momentum









Momentum, est 2018 –  saw the problem of underprivileged youth not being connected to resources that cater to their interest, guidance counselors not being able to service youth effectively due to high ratios and not having the right tools as well as youth resources being underutilized because of redundancies in program and inefficient marketing. The members of our team included Janoye, Chizi, Alula, AJ, and Astou. 

The overview of the problem we are solving includes high school students, especially those from low-income families, usually have a difficult time finding resources to advance their education and career, including important information about community scholarships or occupation training opportunities. In addition, many community scholarship opportunities or local career programs cannot find enough eligible participants. As a result, these local resources remain underutilized, while low-income youth miss the education and career opportunities to break the poverty cycle. Our preliminary market research confirms the adverse impact of the disconnection between high school students and local resources. In Hartford, we found 50% of high school students are not going to college and only 70% of the students who enrolled in their first semester actually attend the college in the following semester.

The overview of our solution is a digital platform that is geared towards helping students that are underprivileged find connections to an ecosystem of resources that interest them in education, employment, and mentorship. Momentum is a centralized system with local resources, allowing students to compete with those in the same socio-economic status. The Momentum app is a platform that will connect local high school students to local community resources aimed to assist them in education, employment, and mentoring opportunities. Some would coin our app as the “LinkedIn for Kids”. The app will launch in Hartford and students will have opportunities to connect with resources in Hartford County free of charge. Students will earn app currency for interaction and usage of the app. They can use app currency to purchase user-relevant items donated from our partners on the app.

We have been involved in Innovation Quest, Focus Groups boys and girls, social innovation childhood prosperity lab commence ct children’s hospital, get seeded, verbal commence hartford fire dept , verbal commence hartford department

We have learned the stages of growth, pertaining to the stages of existence, & survival, and how they differ, and we’ve also learned about path to market and how there’s different key factors that impact being successful when getting to marketed and also sourcing production regarding determining key inputs that we want our app to have, and producing capacity as well as scaling intellectual property, getting trade marks, patents developing a plan of action; identifying target groups, contact list What are you looking forward to the most in the program? We’re looking forward to being able to learn as much as we can, and be able to learn from industry experts as well as be able to make sure we’re not a part of the 9/10 startups that fail! 


Summer 2020 Intern Highlight: Bharath Tata


The company I work for is UDoTest, it’s a company that provides access to In-home disease testing, we have tests for uptown 18 different diseases. But right now, the focus is on At-home/office COVID-19 testing for customers/employees. We have been helping companies Get back to work by making sure that their workplace is safe.

I’m working as a product/project Manager Intern at UDoTest and my responsibilities are Evaluating products, including conducting a deep competitive analysis, Reviewing emerging threats, Identifying opportunities and niche players, Assessing sales needs and customer demand, Formulating potential business opportunities, Providing operational support in tracking and assessing, Onboarding new vendors and customers (Employees).

When working at a startup, there is no specified path in dealing things, the most important thing is to get things done as fast as possible, keeping the Quality in mind and this leads to many innovative ideas in the company.

As an International student this Internship gave me a chance to deep dive into the American market. I have learnt a lot of things from my CEO, like being on your toes all the time to grab any opportunities that come our way. As an MBA student, I have learnt so many things about the real-world Business scenarios, How to acquire customer, stakeholder Management, Resource Management and Integration Management.

Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Ishita Kapoor

I’m excited to work with the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) at UConn and the CT Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a Business Consultant Intern this summer. Coming from a software engineering background, I have worked with product owners and stakeholders across many cross-functional teams in India, UK, and Europe. This experience along with my MBA coursework has greatly enhanced my strategic thinking, problem-solving, and planning skills. It also helped me understand business and consumer needs. During my last semester, I participated at CCEI Accelerate UConn, a program in which an entrepreneurial team is trained to determine the market viability and opportunity for a business challenge. During this program I first built interest towards Verge Consulting.

As a verge consultant, I am able to apply my analytical skills and business knowledge across various projects from different industries. The sheer diversity of the work is what attracted me the most. This experience will help me develop in a way, where I can tackle any business problem, regardless of the industry or role it belongs to.

Additionally, I receive valuable guidance from mentors and co-workers from a wide spectrum of professions, consultants and business advisors, to name a few. This is also an exciting opportunity to work alongside, learn from and make recommendations to entrepreneurs with new and unconventional products. I believe that there is no better way to get a hands on experience than working for a startup since the environment is conducive to innovation. The less emphasis on hierarchy translates to getting your hands dirty properly. Also, working with startup owners will be enlightening on how to drive innovation in myself and others.

My career goal is to work as a management consultant for a financial or consulting firm. To achieve this goal, I am eager to learn all there is to know about the field by gaining as much practical exposure as I can during my time at Verge.


Verge Consulting 2020 Highlight: Jasdeep Singh

This summer, I’m excited to begin working with the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) at UConn and the CT Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a business consultant intern. Coming from the world of education, the in-depth topics of business that the UConn Full-Time MBA program and talented cohort helped immerse in were both stimulating as well as a bit overwhelming. Every week opened me to a new area of interest in strategy, operations, analytics, finance, and marketing, making the choice of internships and possible future jobs broad but also complex.

In order to grow and apply as much as possible, I began consulting with a few start-ups and small businesses on my own during the semester. While it was a great way for me to bring my diverse areas of learning and experience together, what was more motivating was the reality that when working with small companies, every conversation can directly impact the business. I always admired those who have the knowledge, skills, and bravery to bring a business to life. Now I have a deeper understanding of just how difficult and complex starting and growing a company can be, but also how much innovation and discovery comes from the process. Getting the chance to continue to learn and work in almost every facet of business, from finance to operations, in sectors as wide ranging as healthcare and energy, while also helping leaders bring ideas to fruition is the exact opportunity I was looking for, making the VERGE Consulting program an ideal internship.